This blog follows how a romance novel set in the Borders of medieval Scotland is researched, written and hopefully *hopefully* published.

Join me on the writing journey and get inspired to try writing a little romance into your own life!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/29/07


Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

...raiment.



Raiment [ray-mehnt] is a noun meaning, "clothing; outfits; garments."

Here's a sentence:
The simple lines and dull colors of her raiment diametrically opposed her brilliant and complex personality.

Have a great day!
~Saoirse

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

3 Word Wednesday Prompt: Afford, Cigarette, Dim

Hmm. So this one's tougher for me since I seldom write in a time period where cigarettes are common. This week's 3WW words are: Afford, Cigarette, and Dim. So let's see what brainstorming will get me...

woman
cigarette
flapper
dancing
prohibition
bar
dim lights

Ok, here we go...

The alleyway was dim and she paused to tug at her artificial silk stockings, pulling in a ultimately garconne manner at the garter belt just below her outfit's dropped waistline. Her bobbed hair flipped loosely around her ears and she scanned the alley through heavily painted eyes, gathering her coat around her shoulders. She was certain this was the place...

A large man stood guard outside the single doorway, about halfway down the muddy alley. She itched to hear the sounds of jazz and dance the night away with members of the flaming youth. She had saved up for three weeks to blow it all here and now. Finally she could afford to have some fun.

"Hey, babe," the heavy man grunted from his spot, partly cloaked in shadow and evidently holding up the building.

"You the Bruno of this scatter?"

He grinned. A few spaces interrupted a nearly perfect smile. "I'm the Bruno if you can prove you're a hoofer."

"Yeah, I can dance. What do I look like, some bindle punk?"

"No way, doll. And you don't look like no bluenose to me neither."

She snorted, though considering the way he was eying her, she did feel a bit prudish. The fringe of her skirt's hem tickled across her knees.

"So, you got some cabbage for me?" He chuckled.

She was already swaying to the faint strains of jazz music pushing through the door. She shifted anxiously from foot to foot. "I've got cabbage if they've got corn inside." She pulled out a few bills and handed them over.

"Corn aplenty inside," he assured, tucking the money into his coat and knocking five brief raps on the door. The door opened and he gestured for her to move along.

Ginger stepped inside, the music racing over her like the chills. She pulled off her coat and headed straight for the bar. "Bourbon neat," she ordered.

A young man at the bar turned and looked her up and down. "Nice gams," he complemented.

She twisted one ankle around the other and forced a smile. The bourbon would surely help her loosen up, she thought.

"Corn for the dame," the bartender exclaimed, exchanging the glass for more of Ginger's hard-won money.

The man beside her was trying for her attention again. "Like a gasper?" he asked, pulling out his cigarettes.

Ginger pounded back the bourbon and looked at him with wary eyes. She shrugged, letting the alcohol warm her all the way down. "Sure, mac." She tapped it against the back of her hand and rested it between her made-up lips.

He pulled out a lighter and lit the cigarette for her and one for himself.

Ginger thought her night would go just swell now that she was here and making friends, but there was still something odd about the young man paying her so much attention. She had never been to a place like this before. She knew no one at the bar or on the dance floor. She couldn't help but think maybe she was in over her head.

Ok, I didn't know many of the terms (slang) from this era, so I found this cool site and probably got a little heavy-handed with them, but hey! It got me writing... :-)

Hope you enjoyed it!
~Saoirse
PS--Please fill out the poll on interesting cities (pretty far down the page).

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/28/07

Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

...indomitable.

Indomitable [in-dohm-i-tah-buhl] is an adjective meaning "unconquerable; unable to be subdued or broken."

Here's a sentence:
Small and slight of feature, she was a mouse before him, but he knew too well the indomitable nature of her will.

Who or what is indomitable in your story?
~Saoirse

PS--Don't forget to try the poll near the page's bottom! Thanks a bunch!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Poll

Have you taken the poll partway down this page that wonders about which cities intrigue you? Do it! :-)

~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/27/07

Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

...provocative.

Provocative [proh-vahk-uh-tiv] is either an adjective meaning, "provoking, stimulating, encouraging" or a noun meaning, "a person, place or thing having a provocative nature."

Here's a sentence:
The subtle toss of her head sending her hair around her slender neck like waves tumbling ashore, the pout of her rosy lips--all added to her devastatingly provocative charm.

What does your character do to provoke interest or action?
~Saoirse


PS--One of the neatest people-watching things I ever did was when a group of friends (male and female) went to a Hooters restaurant. I munched on wings, listened to the conversation adding the occasional "Yep," "Uh-huh," and "You're kidding," but the whole time I was watching the provocative interplay of the waitresses and male patrons. They flipped their hair, they winked, they touched, their lips pouted and pursed... All those things you know from Psychology 101 that are meant to attract a mate, all beautifully portrayed like I was a game photographer for Wild Kingdom watching an exotic bird's mating ritual. How much fun!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Manic Monday Prompt 11/26/07


It's Manic Monday and I nearly forgot (the last few days have blurred together)!

This week's mania is...

Metrophobia
-- the fear of poetry.

Here's my thought on it...


She paused in the hallway, her back tight to the wainscotted wall, chest rising and falling rapidly, face flushed. She heard boots thumping heavily on the hallway's sculpted carpet as he approached and she tried desperately to become one with her surroundings. Oh god, she thought, why could I not be less noticeable? Why could he not have passed me by? Why couldn't I have been born as plain as the other girls?

He was humming in that signature sing-song way of his. The same rhythm, the same tone, the same... Dammit. The most she knew about song and poetry was what she didn't like. And after hearing twenty-three of his inspired (insipid) poems written expressly for her, she knew she didn't like a bit of them.

And if the rumors were true, tonight he would regale a room full of society's finest with a twelve-page ballad illuminating her many virtues. In couplet after miserably rhyming couplet. The footsteps drew nearer and she held her breath and closed her eyes--wishing she was anywhere but here.

There was a rustle and she knew he was shuffling papers. A pause--he was wiping the perspiration from his wide and furrowed brow and running a now-damp hand through his thinning hair. She shivered and dug her fingernails into the wood boards behind her, summoning silence.

"The beauty of your countenance glimmers in your eyes
The color of your irises as blue as cloudless skies.
The sun shines brightly on your hair's soft curls so golden,
To you my heart and soul shall ever feel beholden..."

The sound grew mercifully softer as the noise of his footfalls faded and he traveled away down the hall, still hunting for his muse.

She gasped and fanned herself. Her heart raced and she felt as if she might swoon, dropping straight to the polished oak floor. How much longer could she avoid him and his horrible poems on their sweat-stained, crinkling papers? She grabbed her broad skirts and, lifting them to expose her dainty shoes and trim ankles, dashed down the hall, feeling as if rhyming words chased her, singing out the most trivial aspects of her life in a most annoying way. As much as she adored high society, literature and the arts, she felt she was quickly becoming metrophobic.

Have a great week!
~Saoirse




Sunday Scribblings: Misspent Youth

Here's my answer to the Sunday Scribblings prompt "Misspent Youth." It comes from the prologue I'm working on (off and on) for "Dreams in Red: Seadog."

The train of horses and wagons has only just completed its first day’s pace of painfully inching forward. Already I chafe under the slow pace, the plodding mentality and the questionable intent of those we will come to consider neighbors on the wild and western frontier of these New World colonies. I have become accustomed to quick ships and sea foam, the roar of tall waves and the creak of salt stained wood beneath my feet.

I am accustomed to drama and flight, not the slow swaying pace of grunting oxen and mumbling men brandishing switches like swords. How I miss the ships, which for too few years carried me on bright and dangerous adventures in the sparkling waters far to the south of this mosquito infested trail. The charms of the Caribbean Sea are never more beautiful than they are in the memory of the so-called landed gentry. The thick and loamy scent of flanking forests and the stink of fresh manure make me long for the surf and salty spray of the sea and the warm floral scents of island breezes.

And yet, even as I suffer my way forward in this new and secretive life, I know that if this is hard on me, it must be nearly unfathomable for my husband, a sailor long before I joined him.

I had often considered keeping a diary of sorts while at sea. But the thought my descendants might someday stumble upon my writings and believe me to be arrogant because I felt my story important enough to tell... It is said “Pride goeth before the fall.” I have never wished to fall, only to soar. So I stayed my hand and kept my quill quiet. Even when most tempted to reflect upon a day’s adventures, I kept still, knowing the danger if the true reasons for my actions were ever found out. I have long danced along a double edged blade, barely keeping from slicing myself apart at the hands of my enemies as I am one thing and act the part of another.

Ironically it is only now that I might be my true self, and yet, society has again bound my hands. Only one other soul knows the truth of my adventuring, and I keep him closer than my shadow. Even now, as I write, he dozes with his head in my lap.

Through these simple words I write, I will endeavor to shine the light of truth upon the misguided assumptions and multitude of speculations people have already made about my previous lifestyle and my own self. I will most readily admit that I did make some unfortunate choices. My youth may be best described as misspent. Nearly wasted if you ask those in authority. But every moment shaped into what I am today. An indomitable woman.

There were tragic mistakes and unforeseen consequences because of my impulsive nature. The plantation fire, my marriage to James... My self-centeredness and youthful naivete caused me to burn more bridges than I suffered to build. I was, if not misguided and somewhat troubled, certainly guilty of being young.

History will not remember me fondly, and that is the right granted those who debate the usefulness of their fellow human beings and attempt to find meaning and order amidst past circumstance. Historians and those who write policy, remembering with their own taint and color and speculating on the rest the past we few lived may well vilify me. But there are issues and circumstances few know of that shaped me, making me into an arsonist, rebel, pirate and simple thief—and something far greater than the parts of the whole simply combined. Even with all of those labels, I find the one that fits the best is that of “American.”

I was very nearly born here. Just a child when I made the ocean crossing, my most formative years were lived in the strange realm somehow between the ruling crown, the society I was expected to be a contributing member of, the American natives, the Africans and the pirates. So, I have always walked the edge. I have been a woman—lover, wife and mother-- and yet dressed and lived as a man to be more independent until my daring set me free from the last of my societal conventions.

In a world dominated by men, it is we women who must work behind the scenes whenever necessary to improve our own lot and the lives of those who depend on us. Working in the shadows must only make us hungrier for the light. We must strive to demonstrate our competence and capabilities. Can we be weapon-wielding women capable of defending ourselves and all we have worked for? Yes! Can we set down the sword and still pick up our stitching, being the gentle and wise matron of a household? Yes! As women we may be whatever we aspire to be. We are only constrained by the limits of our own imagination and the company we keep. For myself and my family, I seek the western frontier where there is greater freedom for bright and daring women with the courage to be all that they can imagine being.

For I am, irregardless of name and association, at my heart, and always shall be, Anne Bonny, adventurer. If you must question anything about me, question not my intent, but rather my basest and beggaring beginnings. Let all who read this know that no matter your start in life, the rest is up to you. You are the only one capable of placing limits on yourself and your future.

Sincerely,

Ann C. Bonny, 1722

Hope it was enjoyable--Yes, I'll be twisting history to meet my odd vision of what it could have been...
~Saoirse
PS- poll on interesting cities near the page's bottom...Please mark your opinion. :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tangent Alert: Site for Dreamers

I stumbled upon this blog today (everyone's eaten their fill and we're all just winding down in our own generally anti-social ways ;-).

It's Dream Keyper (run by Suzy and Polly) and, considering the success of such things as The Secret and exercises like "focus boards" (thank you Oprah and Deb ;-), I think it's got a great thought and feeling behind it. These two gals are asking for you to send your dream to them and they'll paint a key for you and send it to you as a reminder or focus token so you face your dream every day, eventually allowing you to unlock the door to your dream.

I think it's cool. If you've studied visualization at the Olympic level you'll understand the power of such seemingly small things. And the fact they want to be involved in helping dreamers focus--Well that's cool, too. That's giving back in a potentially tremendous way. Anyhow, I feel like I've pretty much used up my allotment of intelligible words, so I know I'm not really doing their site justice. Guess you'll have to see it for yourself... :-)

Me, I have to send an email about my dream...

Take care, all!
~Saoirse

Home and the Holidays

My Dad's snoring away in the easy chair, my brother's showing my son how to make silly photos using his Mac, my hubby's lying down in our room, and me? I'm nuking potatoes to get them ready for mashing and baking (while evaporating goat milk). Turkey's in, casserole-type stuff's made and waiting for baking space...

I still have animals to feed and lots of farm-type stuff to do. That was my mistake. I didn't outline my expectations for a farmer's Thanksgiving. Hubby did milk the goat, but (in retrospect) that was the least of the things to do. Ugh. Must remember men can't read my mind....

Anyhow--Take care! Happy Thanksgiving!
~Saoirse

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/22/07

Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

Holy heck--it's Thanksgiving! Shouldn't you be sleeping off your annual turkey binge? Or, depending on how early you got up and read this (I know, I know, this is the first thing you do each day after starting the coffee ;-) perhaps you're putting the turkey in or perhaps trying to tear yourself from the screen and get in your car to drive TO Thanksgiving (thank goodness gas is so cheap). Anyhow...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our word of the day is...

beholden.

Beholden [bee-hohl-duhn] is an adjective meaning "thankful; indebted; appreciative; obligated; under a moral obligation to another."

Here's a quick sentence:
Though he had been freed of his debt to the Lord and Lady, he felt beholden to the beautiful lady who roamed the halls of the manor, a prisoner in her own home.

Have a great time with family and turkeys (even when they are sometimes interchangeable)!
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/21/07

Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

furlough.

Furlough [fuhr-low] is a noun meaning "a military leave of absence; temporary layoff from work."

Here's a sentence:
Although he wanted nothing more than to linger in her loving arms, his furlough was over and duty called.

I hope many of our soldiers have a peaceful and fulfilling furlough during the holiday season!
~Saoirse

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Location, Location, Location...

Real estate agents know it's true...

The location of a property can change its value dramatically. Good neighborhood, higher value, more power in the marketplace. Bad neighborhood, lower value, passed by, passed over. So what do the rules of location have to do with your writing property?

Location as Setting

There are some places and time periods that just capture the imagination. That imagination and perception is a powerful thing to use in your writing.

As a little girl, I remember hearing that Paris was the most romantic city in the world. To be kissed on the Eiffel Tower? Heavenly! In my imagination I still think of Paris as romantic and artistically inspired (even though my reality included dragging students through city streets littered with dog poo on shoddy tours led by an inept tour guide). Paris is a powerful setting for a story. Its rich history (Abelard and Heloise, Notre Dame, French Revolution, Napoleon) has helped endear it in our cultural treasure trove of fantastic places. Write a story in a Parisian setting and (if you know it inside and out) you'll have at least a guaranteed handful of readers who have an insatiable love for that location and will pick up your book out of loyalty to location alone.

The Medieval period and Renaissance are locations in time that attract a following all their own. Our country is dotted with Renaissance Fairs and Medieval Festivals and there are even educational and social societies that have cropped up to help people relive the history. There are other time periods that also attract people's imaginations, consider the strength Regency romances had (and still have) in the marketplace. If you can write to one of those time periods, you are also likely to attract people who regularly read similar things. Just be wary--they will know details about the period and place--you will need to do your research!

Am I telling you to write a story set in a place or time that is already popular in people's minds? Not necessarily (although you probably will because one's already snared your attention, curiosity, or loyalty). Just know your landscape intimately and use whatever things you can to create a strong foundation on which your intellectual property is built.

Location as Publishing House

Obviously, the publisher that picks you up says quite a bit about your writing and target audience. Choose to send out your manuscript packages or queries to the publishers on your "A list" first. Consider their power in the market and their catalog of books as your "neighborhood." If they have a good market share, your "property value" is stronger (and your royalties might be, too).

Think carefully about what authors and works you want as your neighbors, because they speak volumes about you as well (if only because people will compare you to them first).

This, of course, raises the question of self-publishing. Do you want to be compared to other self-published authors, or could it be detrimental to your sales? It will depend on the mindset of your audience. If a potential reader has a bad taste in their mouth from the last self-published book they got roped into reading, you'll have to really work to sell your far superior book to them. Either way, you'll want to investigate your marketing approaches. Consider "guerilla marketing" strategies as ways to reach your target audience.

Think about the location you're seeking for your book... Is it the neighborhood you want to grow old in or is it just a slightly nicer place on your way to a prime location?

Good luck!
~Saoirse

Pirate Poll Results

I had a poll at the page's bottom dealing with people's favorite pirates or privateers. Making the list were:

Blackbeard/Edward Teach.............................0
Black Bart/Bartholomew Roberts.................0
"Grace" O'Malley.............................................1
Alwida................................................................1
"Calico Jack" John Rackham..........................3
Stede Bonnet....................................................0
Captain Kidd.....................................................0
Anne Bonny......................................................2
William Moody.................................................0
Mary Read........................................................2
Sir Francis Drake.............................................0
Sir Walter Raleigh............................................0
Alexander Selkirk............................................0


A new poll will be posted shortly--please participate and let your opinions be known! :-)
~Saoirse

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/20/07

Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

ascetic.

Ascetic
[uh-set-ik] is a noun meaning, "a person who follows a lifestyle of contemplation and extreme self-denial " and it's an adjective (asceticism) meaning, "extremely strict regarding religious practices; austere; following extreme beliefs on abstinence."

Here's a sentence:
He could smell her sweet breath mingling with her heady lavender perfume as she spoke to him of joyous moments in her garden, and the hunger coursing through his body made him curse the moment he'd turned to a life of asceticism and denied himself such pleasures as her.

Do you have a character with ascetic leanings?

Tell us about them! :-)
~Saoirse

Monday, November 19, 2007

Manic Monday Writing Prompt 11/19/07


Have you ever heard of this mania, romance writers?

Gamomania. It's the nearly uncontrollable desire to make outrageous, over-the-top or simply odd marriage proposals. I also found it listed as gamonomania and an interpretation of this can also be the overwhelming desire to get married, sometimes resulting in polygamy.

Consider the difficulties for a person suffering from this mania (I'm thinking especially of the variety leading to polygamy--I remember hearing tales of men who occasionally kept several wives and families, totally separate from each other and were essentially living multiple lives at the same time--sounds exhausting to me!). Try writing a snippet that shows a case of gamomania in action. I'll post mine here...

Stefan fingered the flocked box nestled in his coat pocket. 3 carats, pink, emerald cut. Size 7. It was surely no Darya-i-Nur, but it was the most he could afford for his Indian princess. He smiled as she entered the room and allowed herself to be led to his table in the bustling restaurant's center. Thick black hair shimmered and flowed down around her face and shoulders like a waterfall on a moonless midnight. She smiled at him, all elegance and lithe grace.

The host pulled out her chair and with a soft rustle of silk, she sat. Her eyes glittered with golden flecks as her gaze skimmed the room. Stefan's breath caught in his throat as he waited for her approval.

She looked at him again, lips twisting in a grin, gently slanted eyes crinkling at their edges. She reached across the table and took his hand. "It is beautiful, Stefan--extravagant," Alanni whispered.

Stefan exhaled. He was certain he was grinning foolishly now. There was nothing and no one else in the restaurant but his Alanni. The mood lighting, the waitstaff, the exotic dishes and other restaurant guests all evanesced. The room seemed to shimmer and he was suddenly seeing her before the altar with him, dressed like a goddess, surrounded by flowers and candles, a final ring winking on her finger.

His heart raced. He slipped out of his seat and onto one knee, never letting go of her hand. Around him was a flutter of activity he barely noticed, so fixed was he on her and their inevitable future.

A waiter stepped in, ready with champagne and glasses. A violinist struck up a sweet tune and approached on nimble feet. And in the restaurant, all eyes turned to Stefan on his knee.

He cleared his throat. "Alanni, every moment we are together fills me with such joy that I know I cannot live any longer without you forever at my side. Your eyes, your laugh and your generous nature--all these strengths of yours have brought us to this one moment."

She was tearing up. He pulled the box from his pocket and snapped open the lid, one-handed. She gasped.

"Will you, Alanni Arasaratnam, marry this most unworthy man?"

"The Hell she will."

Stefan blinked and the splendor of the setting was shattered by a dour-looking middle-aged woman standing before him, fists balled on her ample hips.

"Stefan? Stand up, Steven, you dumbass. You aren't getting married to her."

"Or anyone else. My god, Stevie. Don't you have enough wives?" Another one of them had stepped forward. "Thank god we found each other on the internet."

Now clearly out of his happy haze, Steven was confronted by Nancy, Susan, Debbie and Marie. Not a one of them looked pleased.

"So this is your business conference?" Marie snapped, crossing her arms. Sweet little Marie's eyes glowed like the bowels of hell when she got angry. Steven fell into his chair, Alanni quickly forgotten as the desire for self-preservation took prominence.

"Business conference?" Susan chortled. "I was told he was scouting out a new investment property." Susan's normally joking demeanor was cold as ice. "So is she what you're trying to stake out? Crap, you could have at least used a different proposal!"

Debbie just snorted through her perfectly dainty nose.

Nancy opened and closed her fists. "What shall I tell the children, Steven?"

"How many do you have?" Marie asked, widening her stance. "I have two."

"Three," Nancy growled, pulling her hair back in a knot.

"One," Susan quipped, stepping out of her heels.

"Guess I was the favorite of this clumsy-handed sloppy kisser," Debbie added between snorts and angry puffs. She picked up one of Susan's shoes. "I have 4 kids at home. What do you say to a hit per kid?"

Nancy rolled up her sleeves in response.

And Steven just sat there, thinking they had all been so much prettier wearing white...


So there's my take on gamomania. If you write to this prompt of gamomania (a scene, a character description, a simple plot, or a commentary) add a permalink to your post on your blog in my comments. I'll try and list participants' links here so we get some more visitors...

~Saoirse


Manic Monday Writing Prompt




Do you remember that song? "Just another manic Monday, wish it was Sunday..." I know, I know, I'm totally dating myself when I quote the Bangles.

Anyhow, I was thinking about writing prompts and my desire to know more about human nature and psychology. So I thought a regular prompt Monday mornings about manias, phobias, et cetera might help us all add even more depth to our characters and different dimensions to our plots.

Please note that although I'll try to be sensitive (yet lighthearted) about my treatment of these things, I'll be learning along with you and I might flub up occasionally. So, don't be too sensitive about these topics, my handling of them may sometimes be clumsy. Please also leave a permalink to your post if you use the mania/phobia or whatnot of the day to write to.

So here we go... Look for the sign and start thinking (ok, I'm sure you've started thinking before now, but you know what I mean...;-)

~S.

Romance Writer's Word of the Day 11/19/07

Today's Romance Writer's Word of the Day is...

...evanesce.

Evanesce [ehv-uh-ness] is an verb meaning: "to dissipate, to become almost imperceivable, to be ephemeral, to vanish/disappear like vapor dispersing."

Here's a quick sentence using it:
She could not fathom how it had happened, how things had changed between the two of them, but secretly watching him with her sister she realized his feelings for her had evanesced.

*As a note, this term shows up after 1810, so you'll want to make sure it doesn't pop up in dialogue if your story's setting is before that.

What sentence might you construct using evanesce or one of it's forms? (evanescence, evanescible... ;-)
~Saoirse
PS--If you're not writing romance, it's still okay to participate and leave a sentence here--we only grow stronger through sharing and learning from each other, right? :-)

Thankful for Being a Writer

I'm sitting here sipping some pretty rough coffee (my fault) and trying to get up my courage to go into the cold and feed the animals and milk the goat. And I'm thinking that I'm thankful I'm a writer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for lots of things-- my husband (a man quite tolerant of artistic personalities), my son (quite a character), my father (even when life becomes far more complex because of his involvement), my mother's love and influence although she can't be with us physically anymore, my brother (although I don't get to see him nearly enough now), my in-laws (urgh--generally ;-), the smattering of friends and acquaintances I have even here in the bowels of New York ;-), anyone reading my blog (Sara, especially :-)... I'm also thankful that we're closer than ever to being pretty much off the standard Walmart, etc. foodchain. We're cutting chemicals and striving for healthier living in doable ways.

And there's more, but back to being a writer...

I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to express myself and live out my strangest dreams, fantasies and fears through characters that I create (and seem to grow on their own). I'm thankful that even on my worst days, writing is there like a mental cushion to fall back on. I'm thankful I was able to get enough of an education that I have a keen appreciation of language (and languages) and the crafting of characters and building of worlds. I'm thankful that writing is a craft that is usually done in a warm, sheltered setting with coffee nearby. I'm thankful I am blessed with enough creativity that it never seems there's enough time to write all the stories in my head.

There's more that I'm thankful for, and I try to be mindful of the small things daily, but it's good to "count your blessings" sometimes and realize there are lots of things still right in the world, despite what's obviously wrong (like the number of parents gypping in line to exit the parking garage at Playhouse Disney Live on Stage last night--nice modeling of behavior for your kids! I'm sure those behaviors won't bite you in the butt later! ;-). Ahem... Anyhow... I'm thankful for LOTS of things. I hope you're feeling thankful, too.

Thanks for stopping by!
~Saoirse

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Strengthen Your Queries by Using Persuasive Essay Techniques

I had a tutoring session the other night that was noteworthy. Being a believer in the idea that teachers must be constant and active learners, I jotted down a few things I learned while quizzing the kid. As they were working on writing a persuasive letter, I got them to tell me what sorts of things their teacher wanted them to include in their persuasive format.

Their list included:
parallelism
metaphor/analogy
imagery
allusion
logic
rhetorical questions

Working through the session with them, I realized the same things they were trying to utilize are things I should consider more often when drafting query letters to would-be publishers.

Parallelism: consider comparing what you're selling them now to something successful already in their catalog. Remember that publishing houses often ask you to be familiar with their current catalog before submitting so you're aiming at the right publisher.
Metaphor/analogy: consider using active language and powerful words to show how your work connects to their company and target audience.
Imagery: try being visual--show your storytelling ability when constructing the query.
Allusion: think about referring to one of their popular authors/illustrators or books that have influenced you.
Logic: be orderly, logical and sensible in your delivery.
Rhetorical questions: Eh, this one could be utilized, but you want to be careful to not get "cheesy" by saying something like: "Who wouldn't want to buy my book?"

So, how might you use that list to strengthen your own query letters?

Ever curious,
~Saoirse

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sunday Scribblings Prompt: I Carry

This week's Sunday Scribblings' prompt was: "I Carry." There are many things I carry, burdens both real, imagined and emotional. But this isn't about me. And sometimes, that's how I prefer things to be. ;-) Here's my answer to the prompt, it comes from what I was calling "Barrister's Bastard" but have renamed "Dreams in Red: Seadog."

She felt it every day. It was the weight she carried. It spread along her shoulders, digging into her neck, pressing her spine against itself and bending her back if she wasn't mindful. She never had been so aware of her posture as she was now at nearly twenty. Now that she knew the true weight of her obligation to the Crown.

She took another sip of the thin ale, her eyes sliding the length of the tilted bar. Damn the man, he was smiling at her again. She blinked at him, trying to convince him that she couldn't care less about his attentions or intentions. She turned her back to him, but her spine seemed to wobble beneath the heat of his continued stare. She tried to find something more interesting in the tavern. Pirates to her left and pirates to her right... Suddenly they all blended and became drab parts of the everyday when compared even to the memory of him.

Ann glared into her mug suspiciously. Her stomach fluttered. She sniffed the ale. Ale was ale. Safer than the water, less interesting than rum. She was fairly certain she wasn't getting ill, but she didn't feel herself, either. She closed her eyes. Thought. She only felt this way once, and then so briefly. She straightened on the stool in recognition. She felt this way the day she met James. She had even convinced herself that she felt the same all the way through their rushed wedding. But now she knew better. She felt infatuation only once before. Love? Never.

She tossed back the last swish of ale. If she could continue to ignore him, she might yet keep him safe. It was the tragedy of involvement with her that sentenced a man to swing. The Crown watched her too closely for anything but obedience. Those who were friends before were nothing but tally marks now. It was only luck that kept her from being found out. She tapped the bar and got a refill.

"Here."

She spun to face him, the heat of his body nearly searing her own he was so close.

"I'll get this one," he offered with a wink, sliding his payment to Tina.

Tina glared at him. "Just like Jack," she muttered. "Buy a lass a drink."

Ann tilted her head. "So?" She watched them both. Sparks seemed to fly between them.

"Expects more than conversation," Tina growled.

Ann chortled. "Don't all men?" She turned to face him and leaned against the bar. Letting herself go lithe and inviting. But she knew he read danger in her eyes. "But what one expects and what one gets are often quite different, aren't they Calico?"

He leaned closer and her heart raced realizing the danger thrilled him as much as it did her. "So surprise me."

She knew then she must betray him. Must bring him down and hand him over to the Crown. The weight of that knowledge was enough to crush her remaining spirit. And yet, she felt light enough beneath the intensity of his gaze to take wing and fly...

Yep. Anyhow, my eyes are tired, so that means bedtime. Hope you enjoyed this snippet. It was fun to try and pound out here. :-)

'Night!
~Saoirse

Self-Publishing and the Aspiring Artist

So I'm on the phone this morning with a pal and we're chatting about publishing and she asks about ebooks.

I give the definition of them I understand, something to the effect that ebooks are still not as popular as print media due to readability issues and the tactile and possessive nature of humanity. I also mentioned that royalties tend to be greater for ebooks because sales numbers tend to be lower. I try to avoid generalizations, but that's what I've personally found. I also noted that ebooks tend to be an easier market to break into because there are so many ebook publishers.

My pal chuckled and said, "Yes, I always thought they were just one small step above self-publishing."

We talked a while longer, but her comment made me think about self-publishing or "vanity" presses. My background in social studies reared its head and I thought, "What's more American than self-publishing?"

I mean, think about it for a moment. Ben Franklin was self-published and he was certainly no slouch. Thomas Paine (I believe) and Paul Revere's prints...also self-published. Wait--I know what you'll argue: "Back in the day you had to publish that way. There weren't many other real options. But today..."

Actually, there were publishing houses "back in the day" (man, I hate that phrase). But, if you were a free-thinker, bucking the trends and with a real vision in mind, you still needed (or quite possibly wanted) to self-publish (or be a landowner powerful enough to get a house to publish for you because of your name--ah, celebrity). We stress "freedom of expression" in this country as well as freedom of choice. Therefore I think America should be proud of its self-publishing tradition. Sure, there's plenty of things that are awful and still get published (thanks to self-publishing) but there are also things that are awful and get published by "traditional publishing houses" (ah, celebrity).

So here's what I'm thinking: Publish with the traditional houses IF they meet your needs. Will they treat you fairly and respect you and your work or will they ask for so many changes you won't even recognize it as your own? Will they do more than the "traditional" $200 worth of "marketing" for your book (thank you Robert Gould for some numbers that publishers use as standard :-)?

If they can't meet your needs or understand your vision, do some soul searching. Publish when and how you want. Let the public choose who to read and support. Let's face it--freedom of choice still probably ensures OJ's book "If I Did It" will outsell most of us lumped together--but ah, celebrity! ;-)

Do what's right for YOU and your vision. You are your greatest advocate, traditional publishing house or not.

Take care and step out boldly!
~Saoirse

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tangent Alert: Finding Moments of Joy

I'm starting to believe you have to actively search for joyous moments in life--few are the times that joy gets you unless you're open to receive it.

Tonight we took a few hours off to have a decent dinner (salmon alfredo pasta--good for the brain), milk the goat (yes, there's a goat now--2 actually) and play hide and go seek with our son (who will be 4 next March). I had forgotten how much fun playing hide and go seek is.

My hubby was supposed to hide first. He did great, confounding our son to the point that hubby gave up and came out. I mentioned that he's a good hider, so my son stated wryly, "Ok, DaDa, you hide in my room." Ah yes, place restrictions on your opponent's movements--didn't Machiavelli suggest that, too? ;-) My hubby hid (not in our son's room--treachery! ;-) and not too well once he started cracking up as I narrated our search for him. Finding him, our son decided he would hide.

The foldout bed is still open from my father's recent visit, and my son crawled under the sleeping bag while my hubby counted. "Ready or not, here I come !" was answered with giggles. My hubby raised an eyebrow. "Where's Jaiden?" he asked. "I'm here!" came the chuckled reply.

I cracked up. But it's very similar to Jai's take on traditional knock-knock jokes.... "Knock-knock," our son says. "Who's there?" one of us asks. "You!" replies our existentialist boy. Yes, amidst the heartache, the loss and depression, there's still joy. We just have to hunt for it a bit more actively some times.

Take care!
~Saoirse

Random Thought...

The arrogance of the moon is only surpassed by that of the inky blackness surrounding it--for what good is a diamond without the appropriate setting, the darkness begs to ask.

Eh, I'm sure my punctuation is lacking in that thought--that's what you get scribbling thoughts on bank envelopes.

~Saoirse

An Update/Apology

I feel the need to apologize. Perhaps it's the fact I attended Catholic school as a child. Perhaps it's the fact the Southern Baptists, of whom my mother was a member, had a corner on the guilt "market" that rivals that of the Catholics (and, Deb's informed me, so do the Jews). Perhaps being surrounded by so much guilt, I feel the need to apologize more often than some people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not just apologizing to you (any readers that stumble by) but, in a way, I'm apologizing to myself, too.

I'm sorry I haven't been blogging recently. Blogging does make me feel better--more connected, more open. I know I've had a few of you that have stopped by relatively often. I appreciate that.

I'm sorry I haven't been writing my stories recently. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and was earnestly excited about it, but then I think (in retrospect) that it freaked me out a bit. I mean, I've written (completing) many short stories and children's stories, and poems a-plenty in my youth, but knowing I have to FINISH a novel-length piece--It's like beginning and ending something you love. I guess I'm not so good at ending something that I love so much. But, I feel like I've abandoned my characters. They're always there, standing along the borders of my brain, tapping their toes and huffing and puffing like actors waiting for the director to give new blocking directions.

But still, my fingers won't cooperate on the keyboard when their files are open. I'm not suffering from "writer's block." I don't give the notion of "block" any weight or power. But fear--honest to goodness, bloodchilling fear of weaker words and piss-poor prose--that stops me in my tracks. The ideas are still circling in my head. The plot is strong, the characters are ready for adventure and growth. But I'm holding them back because I don't want to end things.

I think it comes back to my mother's death in June and the fact the holiday's have just pounced on me. I just realized this morning that I'm hosting my father and my brother for Thanksgiving, but my mother will never join us again. My eldest bil asked if we were all coming to "second Christmas" (their family's rather hobbit-minded when it comes to celebrations). My heart stopped and I stuttered about responsibilities here---I just dread the idea that "second Christmas" might make me cry openly--and what a bummer for the other attendees! It would be very selfish of me to attend and then "rain on their parade."

So I'm feeling sorry about not attending because I'm still feeling sorry for myself. I haven't been meeting my obligations in other ways recently, too. I am supposed to be writing regularly as part of my writing group trio. Instead of getting me to write (as I also supposed it would), I've stubbornly thrown on the brakes. I'm even supposed to schedule the next meeting. But I can't bring myself to open my e-mail and respond or write anything. Ugh.

So, I apologize. To myself, to my readers, to my characters and my kick-ass writers' trio. I'm still getting my head together. I thought I was "over the hump." I didn't expect the holidays to wallop me like they have.

I'm fighting to return...
~Saoirse

What is the most interesting city or setting to you?

Woo-hoo! Didn't You Know It!


Which ancient leader are you most akin to?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Ghengis Khan

you scored ghengis khan! He was a Mongol political and military leader or Khan (posthumously Khagan) who united the Mongol tribes and founded the Mongol Empire (�� �онгол Ул�), (1206�1368), the largest contiguous empire in world history.

Ghengis Khan

86%

Julius Caesar

80%

Henry V (England)

72%

Cleopatra

70%

Darius

70%

Napoleon Bonaparte

67%

Alexander the Great

64%

Pride and Prejudice

Which Pride and Prejudice Girl Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com You scored as Elizabeth

I am Elizabeth. I am headstrong and intelligent. I love to be myself, and am very loyal to my family. I can sometimes be prideful and "prejudiced," but I try to remain open minded and I usually regret past mistakes.

Elizabeth

95%

Charlotte

75%

Jane

65%

Mrs. Bennet

55%

Mary

50%

Kitty

35%

Lydia

15%

Super Me!


Which Superheroine are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Huntress

You are the Huntress... No matter how many times you try and prove yourself to be good, you always seem to be stuck in the same rut, with the reputation as a "bad girl". Guys love to hang around you because you're easy to talk too.

Huntress

80%

Black Canary

75%

Supergirl

65%

Spiderwoman

60%

Batgirl

55%

Catwoman

40%

Spoiler

40%

Spidergirl

35%