Monday, August 8, 2011
1.Who did you believe the killer was while reading the novel, and why?
2.Who was your favorite/least favorite character?
3.Where you surprised to learn who the killer was?
Throughout most of the novel, I felt Henet was the killer. She seemed to have the perfect motive. She bragged to no end about her suffering disrespect from the family members and her constant loyalty to the family despite it. Why? I felt she wanted Imhotep to fall in love with her and marry her. Then, after years of so-called loyalty, she finds herself shocked to have Imhotep return home with a young, beautiful concubine. I felt that infuriated her and forced her to do something about the woman who threatened to take what she struggled for years to obtain. Also, her false self-sacrificing personality convinced me she had a heart of stone, which she proved true when she finally admitted to Renisenb that she hated her and the family.
My favorite characters were Renisenb and Hori. Renisenb was naive, honest and loyal while Hori was an honest and loyal man of integrity.
My least favorite character was Henet. Christie did an amazingly good job of developing her as an irritating and frustrating character. Haven't we all known a person like her at one time?
I was surprised to learn Yahmose was the killer, and yet it made sense. He was near Satipy when she fell from the cliff and he definitely had motive. He saw everything he worked for being given to his father's concubine and he left penniless. I suspected several characters throughout the story, but as stated already, I was convinced it was Henet.
I'm anxious to read your responses.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Next week I'll post questions about Death Comes As the End that everyone is welcome to answer.
Good reading, I hope you'll join us!
Monday, July 4, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
As to what to read, I believe each of you has the right to make a suggestion. So, what author and novel do you suggest we begin with? Once I have all the book suggestions, we'll vote.
What do you think? Are you ready to come join me? I'm anxious to read your responses.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Who are your all-time favorite fictional characters and why? I mean other than Agatha Christie's, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, Sherlock Holmes. They are everyone's favorite characters. If they aren't yours, than I, and I'm sure millions of other readers, would love to know why.
Other than Poirot, Marple and Holmes, my favorite fictional characters are a toss up between Elizabeth George's, Inspector Thomas Lynley, and Carol O'Connell's, Detective Kathleen Mallory.
Let's start with Lynley. Extremely rich, intelligent, handsome, and fit, Thomas' disposition reminds me of that of Sherlock Holmes. Like Sherlock, Thomas is impatient, demanding, and often dismissive of others. However, as you get to know Thomas you fall in love with his vulnerability. He is insecure about his wealth, and has a partner who couldn't be more opposite of him if she tried. Short, fat, ugly and unable to work with any other officer, one would think Barbara Havers and Lynley wouldn't last a day. Thomas gave her a chance and it worked. Still, she refuses, while remaining respectful, to accept any of his impertinence. Lynley respects her for that and for her intelligence, and finds he doesn't want to work with anyone else. Opposite as night and day, these two make an amazing team and a great reading adventure.
Next is Carol O'Connell's main character. The abandoned little girl, Kathleen Mallory who grew up on the streets. She is taken in by a loving family only to later lose them. Her adoptive father is a cop and he and his loving and gentle wife raise Kathleen who grows up to become a cop herself. Through each novel, the author reveals a bit of Mallory's tragic past helping the reader, and Mallory, understand how she became abandoned at such a young age, forced to live years of her young life on the seedy streets of town, and how she survived that life.
Because of both characters, the novels are gripping and full of edge-of-the-seat suspense. I'm anxious to learn of your favorite characters.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Anyone who has read Charles Dickens has not only learned historical facts about that era, but also felt the emotional heartache of the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution. Oliver Twist is one example of the cruelty to children during that era. Consider Mark Twain's version of the 'Old South' in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. What about Edith Wharton? Do you not feel the pinch of the restrictive corset while learning of the hypocritical Victorian Era by reading Wharton?
Of course, not all literature has something to do with history, but a great deal of it does. Do you agree with me? If so, please let me know one or two of your author examples. If not, I'd love to understand why.
Monday, June 6, 2011
As you know, all stories must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The story must also have a climax. Throughout the novel, you must enclose conflict and action. Throw in some suspense and you pretty much have it, right? Maybe.
Why not be sure? What if you make beginning your novel a bit more structured by creating an outline. If you have an outline to follow chances are you won't get side-tracked from your main point or forget to make use of all the important aspects your novel needs to be a well-rounded successful story.
As you begin to write your outline, you'll want to keep several essential tips in mind. Author Sol Stein, in How To Grow A Novel, lists them:
1 What does your protagonist want?
2 Is it a desire that readers will be able to understand or identify with?
3 Who or what is in your protagonist's way? (Who will be more dramatic.)
4 Write a character sketch of each of the main players that has much more detail than you are likely to use.
5 Get into the skin of characters who are different from you.
6 Why would you want to spend a lot of time in the company of the person you are choosing as your protagonist?
7 How do your characters view each other? Write a short paragraph about each character's view of the virtues, faults, and follies of the other important characters. Save these paragraphs for referral and guidance.
8 Which character's point of view will dominate?
9 How are you planning to hook the reader's attention on page one?
10 Consider starting with a scene that is already underway.
11 What are the dramatic conflicts you intend to let the reader see in each chapter?
When you've completed your outline and Mr. Stein's checklist, you're on your way to creating a well-rounded successful story. Having the outline and tips handy, you should be able to remain focused on the main points you want to tell and make use of the significant facets your novel needs.
How do you begin your novels? Do you follow an outline or begin writing and structure later?
Monday, May 30, 2011
My Faux Pas
Is it improper to invite someone to check out your blog or to leave your link in a response on theirs?
It seems I’ve committed this major faux pas and was confused as to why. I thought one of the reasons for links was to make things easier for the internet user. In fact, one of the reasons for the internet is to make life easier for the user. I found both links and the internet have made my life a great deal less stressful. I’ve also made a few friends by leaving a link to my blog. New friends in which I have something in common.
I asked myself, what’s the harm? If they leave a link to their blog and I want to check it out, I’ll click, if I’m not interested, I won’t. No big deal, right? Turns out I’m wrong.
So why all the fuss about leaving a link to your blog in a response? I have graciously been informed that many writers don’t appreciate us leaving our link in a response to their blogs. To all those writers I’ve linked, I am truly sorry. I meant no harm. I now understand some writers look at a link attached to a response as advertising our sites on their blogs. I now understand how that would appear as intrusive and offensive.
What do you think? Are you also guilty of advertising on another blog? Do you think it's alright to do or wrong?
Monday, May 23, 2011
Jose Cela, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, describes plot as the 'spine' of your story. “Once you get a character with a problem, a serious problem, 'plotting' is just a fancy name for how he or she tries to get out of the predicament. Plot is the solution to the problem.”
Cela continues by stating, “Plot is generally character, and character is generally plot. The tendency for the beginner is to think up a plot and then tailor a character to fit it. . . Most great stories and books stem from character, no matter how convoluted the plot may become.”
With that in mind, let's consider the plots or 'spines' of several memorable classic stories. The spine of Moby Dick is the quest for the white whale. In Romeo and Juliet it is the feud between the families. In Gone With The Wind the spine is Scarlett's love for Tara. To me, the plot or spine of the story is the foundation. The plot seems, in most cases, to become the question, 'what does the main character want more than anything?' Once you have the answer, you have the plot. The story then is how the main character goes about getting what he or she desires desperately.
What about the plot or 'spine' of your novel? In my first novel, The Devil's Pawn, the spine of the story is Robin's longing to forgive herself for her son's death. In my second novel, The Palmetto Connection, it is Anne's desire to be free of her enemies and remain in Patriot. The spine of my third novel, A Cruel Legacy is Caressa's desire to free herself from her father's oppressive control and become her own person. In each of these novels, the spine is what causes the characters to do what they do and respond they way they respond, creating more conflict in their lives.
What sort of conflict has your protagonist created for her or himself? What is keeping her or him from acquiring what she or he wants? Is the spine: man vs man; man vs nature; man vs another person; or man vs herself or himself?
In The Devil's Pawn, the conflict is man vs man and man vs herself. Robin is not only dealing with someone threatening her life, she realizes that the perpetrator is threatening her because of her inability to forgive herself. In The Palmetto Connection, Anne's conflict is man vs man as she fights to stay in Patriot and avoid her enemies. In A Cruel Legacy, the conflict is man vs man as Caressa struggles to free herself from her father's control and live her own life.
I look forward to reading your responses.
Monday, May 16, 2011
How do we do it? By creating an atmosphere. How do you set up your perfect atmosphere for writing? Just as each unique writer has their own style of writing, each author has their own way of creating their perfect atmosphere.
Me? first, I like to accomplish any task required of me for the day by making a list the night before or first thing in the morning. The action of checking off each task gives me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Once I've done all I can from my list, I save what I can't do that day for the next. Having it written down, I don't have to think about the list for the rest of the day. With that off my mind, I move on to my next step. Music.
I love to have the room to myself, the windows open (weather permitting), and to play movie soundtracks. The music wells up within me evoking an emotion which helps me get into the world and minds of my characters. I also listen to the soundtracks while I think about the story and during the editing process.
I find that movie soundtracks relax my mind. Why movie soundtracks? I can't explain it, I just know they do the trick. If you're curious, you may want to try one sometime. Let me know if it works for you. Here are a few of my favorites:
James Horner: Braveheart and A Beautiful Mind
John Williams: The Patriot
John Barry: My Life, Out Of Africa, Dances With Wolves, and Somewhere In Time
So, what do balance and atmosphere have to do with each other? Everything. I'm certain it can be done, but believe it would be difficult to have the perfect atmosphere for writing without having first established balance.
What about you? I'd love to read about your plan for balance and writing. I'd also love to know what musical genre you listen to, and what other little habits you may have that help get your writing juices flowing.
Monday, May 9, 2011
The famous editor, Sol Stein has a definition of a writer. In How To Grow A Novel, Stein writes:
A writer is someone who looks forward to the day's work. . . a person who knows that whatever one first sets down is a draft, that drafts are palimpsests ready for change the next day and the next day until they can no longer be improved. . .It all starts each day with the necessity of putting words on paper.
Stein's definition is clear and concise. If you want to become a writer you must realize that writing is work; enjoyable, committed, daily work.
In The Complete Guide To Writing Fiction, celebrated sci-fi author, Ray Bradbury states that anyone who wants to become a writer should start by reading. Bradbury compares reading to Cracker Jack: “The more you eat, the more you want.” He writes:
And the more you read, the more the ideas begin to explode around inside your head, run riot, meet head-on in beautiful collisions so that when you go to bed at night the damned visions color the ceiling and light the walls with huge exploits and wonderful discoveries.
What does Bradbury say about the people who found his behavior peculiar during his endeavor to write? “If I had listened to all the tastemongers and fools and critics I would have played a safe game, never jumped the fence, and become a nonentity whose name would not be known to you now.”
In other words, if it is your desire to write, don't let others influence your decision. We all have a unique gift to contribute to the world. We have millions of authors writing every genre imaginable, each one writing from his or her own experiences and desires. Isn't it wonderful to go to the library or the internet and find the variety of books and genres from which to choose.
I'm always open to reading new authors and genres. Why? Because I can learn something new from each of them. Something that will help me to become a better writer.
How did you become a writer? What or who influenced you? I look forward to reading your responses.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Have you ever felt overwhelmed when starting a writing project? Have you stared at the blank computer screen and said, “What am I going to write about?” If you have, you're not alone.
Let me tell you a story. One day, my husband and I walked outside to survey our home for repairs. He saw so much more that needed to be done than I did. He understood and knew how to accomplish each task. I didn't. One by one he began rattling off a list of things we had to do. By the time he finished explaining all the necessary work, I began to cry.
Why? Because I was overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge. The saying, “knowledge is power,” is true. How many of us are stifled when it comes to accomplishing a task because we don't know how to do it? Or rather, how to start. How many times have we given up and moved on to something else without ever trying to take on the task?
In addition to not understanding all we needed to do, I didn't have a clue as to how we would get it done. Do you know how my husband solved the problem? He took my hand and said, “We are going to eat this elephant one bite at a time.” Immediately, I began to calm down. I've learned that by doing things one step at a time, any task can be accomplished.
The same goes with writing. Let's apply the elephant theory to our next project. We have a book to write. We need approximately 100,000 words, we haven't started yet, and we haven't a clue as to what to write about. The task can be overwhelming. That is the moment that causes many to quit.
However, if we tackle the project one step at a time, we can eat the entire elephant and not suffer heartburn. So, where do we start?
So as not to 'overwhelm' anyone, I've listed only the first three steps I take to start.
1) Know What You Want To Write About. Choose your genre and know your subject matter. You can't write a successful novel about vampires just because the genre is popular. Especially if you're not interested in them and have no background information about the genre. Genre popularity does not guarantee publication. On the other hand, if you always read mysteries and know the rules of writing a mystery, then you have chosen your genre and subject matter. You will be writing about something you know and in which you are confident.
2) Brain Storm Ideas. Let your mind flow with thoughts and ideas and jot them down. Don't try to edit or make sense of them, just let them come. Out of that, you'll discover ideas and plots. Soon you'll be writing your outline. I like to start my brain storming with a 'who killed who and why' question. That is a great kick off for me. That, or something else, might work for you. You decide.
3) Be Flexible With Yourself. Once you have your outline, you are free to change that outline while writing. Tell yourself that changes are alright. In fact, they're good. Changes mean you've expanded your mind as a writer. You saw the plot going one way but thought another way would make the story more interesting. Way to go! Remember, nothing is set in stone until it's published.
How do you begin your writing projects? Do you follow a number of steps or just roll with it? I look forward to reading your responses.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I use the lowcountry of South Carolina as the setting for my novels. Why? First, because this is where I've lived since 1982. Second, the lowcountry of SC has an amazing history. Such a setting brings a story to life. One of the most famous locations in SC is historical downtown Charleston. I've chosen this area for the setting of my third novel, A Cruel Legacy. If you've never visited the lowcountry, throughout the novel you can see in your mind's eye the beauty of the area. The reader who has never been here catches a glimpse of the actual sites in Charleston. The reader who has, re-appreciates the beauty of the area.
Bits and pieces of Charleston's history are experienced by the main character of the novel, Caressa Cruel. The streets of historical Charleston lined with centuries-old mansions, the famous Market Street where slaves were once bought and sold, Fort Sumter where Yankee cannon shots fired upon the city sparking the Civil War, and ghost stories, all play an intricate roll in the novel.
Caressa Cruel is a television newscaster who grew up in Charleston but moved away to escape her father's oppressive hold upon her. She returns when she learns of his imminent death, hoping to heal their fractured relationship and to comfort him. Unfortunately for Caressa, her father reveals a shocking secret. A confession that not only verifies her life is in danger, but also rouses agonizing memories of her troubled past.
When Caressa's father dies before revealing a vital piece of information, he leaves her to search for the answers that would reveal the identity of a killer. Caressa's dilemma intensifies when she discovers the body of a loved one, murdered. She is left heartbroken, without answers, and in danger. Caressa must decipher the details of her father's confession and uncover the truth to expose a killer before he catches her.
Caressa's search for answers sends her on a variety of dire experiences that include the roof of her centuries-old mansion, the streets of historical Charleston, the Charleston Battery, and Fort Sumter.
I believe the Charleston, SC setting helps to make this story alive and believable. What is the setting of your novel? How have you made it come alive and enhance the novel you're working on?
Monday, April 18, 2011
One of the most important facets in a novel is conflict. If your novel has no conflict, you have no novel.
William Noble, author of Conflict, Action And Suspense writes:
But even before we have drama, we must have conflict. It is the essence of story development, and whether we call it tension, discord, or a host of other synonyms, it means, simply, that the story contains someone or something struggling with someone or something and the outcome is in doubt. Conflict creates drama, and it establishes the focus of the action or the suspense to follow.
In my second novel, The Palmetto Connection, my main character, Anne Corey is dealing with conflict. Anne is living under the Witness Security Program. Her decision to do so puts her in conflict with her society. She must pretend her life is normal and never share her secret with anyone. That choice alters her life and gives her character depth.
Six years into the program, Anne realizes her new identity is no longer safe and her enemies are close to finding her. Her conflict increases when one someone begins killing the people she cares about. Her troubles escalate when she seeks assistance from the one person who can help her, her only link between her former life and her new, and learns he is dead. Anne wants to help the authorities catch the killer but finds the task impossible. She cannot reveal the information she knows without jeopardizing more lives or her identity. Yet, she feels compelled to do something.
Anne Corey's dilemma is an example of threatening, or edge-of-your-seat, conflict. However, subtle conflict can be just as suspenseful.
Noble writes, “When we write a suspense scene, we must see it as a buildup of uncertainty, keeping the reader guessing and leaving question marks. . . For a good story to emerge, the conflict must be clear and unambiguous. We must know who or what is pitted against whom or what, and we must understand the consequences.”
Does your story have conflict? Is it threatening or subtle conflict? I look forward to reading your comments.
Monday, April 11, 2011
In The Devil's Pawn, the main character, Robin Wilder, is struggling with depression due to the tragic death of her toddler son, Jacob. Her child died six years before the story begins, and yet the plot reveals how her damaged state of mind has crippled her behavior. Robin's guilt has taken control of her emotions.
It is a fact that when a person suffers from depression they may exhibit obvious signs such as sadness. Anyone who looks at them can see they are unhappy. However, Robin suffers the from the undetectable signs. She endures feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Unseen by those around her, these symptoms cause her to have a hard time making decisions and concentrating.
Robin, unable to live in the home where she wanted to raise Jacob, packs up and leaves the state. She finally settles in Heritage, SC. In this small town, she lives the pretense of a normal life as a novelist and creative writing teacher at the local college. After a time, Robin allows herself to fall in love again. Hardy Shaw proposes, but Robin hesitates to accept because she doesn't believe she deserves to be happy again. She is still unable to forgive herself and holds onto the blame for her son's death.
Robin's facade unravels when a stranger uses her son's death to threaten her then murders Hardy. When a student's warning leads to the young woman's murder, Robin realizes she must confront her past guilt and find the killer before she, or someone else she cares about, becomes the next victim.
Can you relate to Robin's situation? Has something traumatic happened in your life that caused you to find yourself making all the wrong choices? I look forward to your responses.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
For this blog, I've chosen four authors for examples: Sylvia Plath, Earnest Hemingway, and two contemporary writers: Kelsey and Tim.
I'd like to begin with Sylvia Plath. I remember studying her poems in college. I sensed both anger and sadness in her words. Plath was an author and poet who has been described as a 'great talent in great darkness.' She described her time of hospitalization for depression as:
"[a] time of darkness, despair, and disillusion--so black only as the inferno of the human mind can be--symbolic death, and numb shock--then the painful agony of slow rebirth and psychic regeneration."
On February 11, 1963, after carefully sealing the kitchen so her children would not be harmed, Sylvia Plath took a bottle of sleeping pills and stuck her head in a gas oven.
About.com Sylvia Plath – Poet, Author/ Great talent in great darkness/ From Marie Griffin, Guest Contributor
Earnest Hemingway was one of America's greatest writers who also suffered from depression. He was another author whose stories I studied and enjoyed in college. Hemingway battled with his demon for years.
"What is known is that he was a very heavy drinker and a very depressed man... Some believe that certain members of Hemingway's paternal line had a genetic condition or hereditary disease known as haemochromatosis, in which an excess of iron concentration in the blood causes damage to the pancreas and also causes depression or instability in the cerebrum. Some three weeks short of his 62nd birthday, he took his life on the morning of July 2, 1961 at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, with a shotgun blast to the head."
Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_did_Ernest_Hemingway_commit_suicide#ixzz1HM7LBF5e
In a Mail Online article, “Can Depression Ever be Good for You?” by Professor Jerome Wakefield, two contemporary writers who battle with depression gave opposite opinions.
Kelsey is an author and former editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. She said, no, depression is not good for you. Kelsey writes that:
The problem with that statement [can depression be good for you?] is that when you are in the grip of depression, you can't focus on anything other than your own misery... Am I grateful for being bitten by the black dog? Was losing my will to live good for me? No, Professor Wakefield, it was not.
However, author and journalist, Tim Lott says, yes, depression can be good for you. Lott writes:
Depression can lead you to reevaluate your life, examine your priorities, and get to know yourself better. Hence the saying that 'breakdown can be breakthrough'. After the breakdown of a relationship, in my early 30s I suffered a breakdown which led me close to suicide. It also led in my case to a successful book about depression, The Scent Of Dried Roses. In that sense, mine is an atypical experience.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1123083/Can-depression-EVER-good-Six-writers-share-views.html#ixzz1HM2QtY1U
What are your thoughts on depression and writing? Do you think depression can be good or bad for you? If good, in what way? If bad, in what way?
Monday, March 28, 2011
If you've never seen the movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” I'd like to suggest you watch it. If you do, you'll better understand where I'm coming from. You see, like Rannulph Junuh, the main character in the movie, I'd lost my 'authentic swing.'
Rannulph was a championship golfer. He was the best! He was in love with Adele and they were going to be married. Then he was sent to war where he became the leader of a squad. He gave the order for his men to advance and attack, and he was the only survivor of that bloody battle. That would leave anyone traumatized.
After the war, Rannulph didn't return home for twelve years. When he did, not only could he no longer respond to the love of his life, Adele, he also was unable to play golf. So, God sent an angel in the form of a vagrant named Bagger Vance, and the long road to recovery began.
How did I lose my 'authentic swing'? My life fell into a whirlwind when a painful shock and a succession of overpowering troubles threw me into depression. The thing about depression is, you don't really know you're in it until you start coming out of it. You just know something isn't right. I had what I'd heard called, 'a numbness of heart' – when the senses and feelings have become so overwhelmed with heartache, the person no longer feels.
So, I quit writing. I didn't want to write, or think about writing, or do much of anything else. I had no desire for anything. Of course, with that, I packed on more pounds than I care to admit. Why? Because I was busy pretending everything was okay. I didn't want anyone to know how empty I felt inside, and how I was struggling.
As Maya Angelo says in her poem, “I Wear the Mask,” I wore a mask. A plastic smiley face telling the world everything is perfect, yet I felt hollow and sad. I behaved as society expected me to behave, when inside I was in agony.
How did I overcome the depression? I prayed. A lot! I know the best place to go for comfort and healing of a broken heart is to Jesus. Every day I asked the Lord to heal my heart and He did one better. Are you surprised? I'm not. Whenever I least expect it, He does what I ask and more. He also healed my life. He gave me back my passions. My passions for writing and for living!
I began writing again. A little at a time. This healing did not happen overnight. It was a long process, but I've learned some valuable lessons.
1.I must let go and let God handle things.
2.I am not the one in control. When we try to control everything in our lives, we are in for a rude awakening.
3.When we hand our troubles over to God, He gives us a peace that no person can give us.
4.God also gives us the strength to go on while He is healing our heart.
I'm so glad to be writing and blogging again. I welcome any feedback and opinions.
Have any of you suffered the same agony? If you'd like to share, I'd like to listen.