Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thursday's Children 9/27/12 Part I Where Do Your Characters Dwell?

"We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us."
WINSTON CHURCHILL, Sir Winston Churchill: A Self-Portrait

How much thought do you give to the places your characters live?
By that I don't mean geographic location (that'll be another blog post), but the actual house itself. 

Home. There's a loaded word if ever there was one. It might summon feelings of comfort, embarrassment, even terror. A house invariably affects the lives of its inhabitants.  How a home looks, sounds, and even smells, all help to convey its signficance within a story.

A house can be as much a character in the story as any of the human ones.
Houses have personalities.
And sometimes secrets.

The George Jacobs Senior House (see below) was an inspiration for my book

Do you think a home can absorb the essence of those who have lived there?
Can walls, ceilings, and floors retain memories of their own?
If so, could a psychically sensitive person experience past events or personalities if she were to touch one of the structural beams that had once belonged to it?
I used this idea as an inciting event.

The Jacobs house collapsed during the 1930s.

Geo. Jacobs Senior's House c. 1891

This farmhouse helped me flesh out a minor but still important character.
Ezekiel Hovey,local historian and elderly bachelor, who lives with his white cat Mary.
Don't you think this house might smell like boiled cabbage and litter box?

In my YA Contemporary FOOLISH, Sparrow (the MC) lives in a mobile home adorned with hippy graffiti and crammed to the ceiling with her mother's unfinished art projects - it's only a few crocheted afghans shy of being featured on "Hoarders".

But notice the flowers.

So picture this van, as a mobile home, but only half-painted (because her mother never completes anything she starts). 
Of course it's on the wrong side of town, underscoring Sparrow's "have-not" status.
No wonder she can't wait to get the hell out of there. 

But in her next residence she plants a garden, to make her new house feel like home.
Many of us have ambivalence about the places we've called home.

Here's where I envisioned Opal MacBride, (the MC in my book TENDRIL) living with her grandmother, Pearl.
A cottage tucked into a cleft between forested hills, by a quiet lake in New Hampshire where trees and steeples frame the sky.
The walls inside are painted marigold yellow, delphinium blue, and geranium red.

A very "female" sort of place if you like symbolism, which I do.

But after Pearl dies, Opal must live with her Uncle Ned, a lighthouse keeper.
The perpetual fog smells like ocean creatures. When the swells are big Opal hears the hiss and roar of a sea monster, but when the waves are calm Opal imagines she hears mermaids whispering. The walls, floors, and furniture are white, like Opal (who has albinism).
Her uncle has an unhealthy obsession with her.
Constant movement, craggy cliffs, and of course, the lighthouse itself, you can't get much more "masculine" than that. It is here that Opal must reclaim her sexuality.

Photo Courtesy of Kari Jo Spear

Where do your characters dwell, and what does that say about them?

Does knowing what a character's house looks like, smells like, sounds like help your reader understand him or her?

Does knowing where your characters live help you understand them better?

For Thursday's Children this week Kristina Perez blogged about Falling With Grace, and as a former competitive figure skater I bet she knows a thing or two about that. Her post goes up on Thursday.

Here's the Linky List so anybody else who wants to share their Thursday inspirations can be part of an ongoing Bloghop.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Follow-Swap Blog Hop

I'm going to quote my friend Katherine here because I couldn't say it better myself...

"What we need to ensure is that no one lands on our blogs without being entertained – informed – mystified – whatever, about our content. And in light of that, I’ve got an idea."

Her Blog Hop and Linky List will allow us to gain new followers and KEEP them interested by showing them the best our blogs have to offer.  Go read more about it at the link below!

This is the Widget. Grab the Code at the link above.  Do it.  Do it now.

Here's the Linky List

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday's Children 9/20/12 - Cornstalks & Coptic Bombshells

Welcome to our weekly inspiration-sharing post Thursday's Children

Writing, being published, it's all part of the journey, and most of us have far to go.  Hopefully keeping each other company and sharing our inspirations will make the trip more fun, if not any shorter. 

We hope next week you'll join Thursday's Children with your own inspirational post.

Generally I have to chain my muse to something - an image, an idea, a song - before she'll start actually working on my behalf.

My muse doesn't know quite what to make of this week's "somethings".  Can't say I really blame her...

Cornstalks - Up Close and Personal

What's with the cornstalks?  Well, cornstalk mazes are creepy - I've already written one into my book UNQUIET SOULS. 
And I'm not the only one inspired by corn - there's that other "Maine-ah" (that would be "Mainer" for those of you who don't live here) Stephen King.  He knows a few things about cornfields too.

I took these photos while we were at an orchard picking apples.  The one on the left inspires me to paint (but I have no time for that).  The one below inspires me to write a story about cornstalks that come to life after dark.  I can tell you right now they'll be up to no good.

Qoute of the Week - "The world is not really crawling with crooked papyrologists"
- Roger Bagnall, regarding the possibility of a Mrs. Jesus Christ.

A business card-sized bit of papyrus from the second century might
turn Christianity on its ear. 

I've used an heirloom diary in one of my books, but now I'm thinking
smaller, older, secret code or defunt language...

Somebody will definitely be writing a book about the scrap below, just not me -
Kristina, how about you?

And speaking of my partner in crime, here's a link to her blog. 
This week's post is titled Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who's In?

My friend, brilliant writer and Crit Partner Extraordinaire Kristina Perez has come up with the awesome idea of Inspirational Thursday Bloghops

We'll each come up with our own posts, then travel around to admire everyone else's :-)

Sorry for the short notice - if you can't make it this week, we hope you'll join us next week!

As you can see my dogs can hardly wait to see what inspires your writing...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Feeling fidgety and unproductive?  Please say yes, so I don't have to add "guilty" to my list. 

I saw this link on the Writer Unboxed Facebook Group and couldn't resist the temptation. 

For TENDRIL the result was James Joyce
For UNQUIET SOULS the result was J. K. Rowling
For FOOLISH (my YA Contemporary Romance) the result was Cory Doctorow

If only!

Paste a few paragraphs of your novel, blog, or other writing into The Analyzer and share your results in Comments.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Favorite Authors - George S. MacDonald

Two books I loved as a child were THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN and THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE by George S. MacDonald (1824-1880).

I didn't know, until the other day, that MacDonald was C. S. Lewis's mentor (thanks Denise!)

Turns out he also was a major influence on Tolkein, Auden, L'Engle, Carroll and even Twain.  Guess I'm in good company!

Socially he hobnobbed with Thackeray, Dickens, Tennyson, Wilkie Collins, Longfellow, Whitman - well, really anybody who was anybody in those days.

Looks a bit like Rasputin - eek!
 About THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN, G. K. Chesteron said it "made a difference to my whole existence."

The books we had were early editions that had been in our family for ages.  I adored the beautiful evocative illustrations as much as the words. The stories involved a race of goblins who lived underground where they plotted to abduct the child Princess Irene and marry her to the goblin prince.  The mastermind behind the scheme was Prince Harelip's mother, the Queen, whose feet sported toes, unlike the other goblins.  She took great pains to hide her "deformed" feet from the other goblins, she probably feared they'd turn on her, I don't really remember much about her motivation as a character.  I do remember that the goblins had extremely hard heads, to hurt them Curdie had to aim his miner's pick at their feet instead. Curdie and Princess Irene's goddess-like great great grandmother ultimately saved the day. 

These stories inspired certain aspects of my novel TENDRIL.

Young Princess Irene & her Great Great Grandmother

Older Princess Irene with Curdie

What author from your own childhood inspired you?

Friday, September 14, 2012

And a Blog Award Goes to...

Me!  My Little Hatchling-Blog got an Award today!

Yes, I know, I use too many !s and too many ...s, but right now they are completely warranted.

Here is where I thank the person who gifted me with this lovely thing - Robbie MacNiven
He's riding the GUTGAA wave along with me, and Listen Up Ladies - he wears a kilt! 
(Disclaimer:  he probably wears it only for special occasions.)
But all swooning aside, he's appallingly talented for someone of relatively tender years and he's writing what promises to be a stunner of a book.  And he's a history geek, totally "in" right now.

Read all about his WIP, in his own charming accent, right here
Robbie MacNiven - A Writing Blog

Here are the Rules of the Game (for those I'm about to nominate):

1. Identify and show appreciation to the blogger who nominated you.
2. You must add the reward logo to your blog.
3. Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.
4. You must nominate 5-10 of your favourite bloggers for this award.
5. Inform you nominees that you nominated them.
Easy peasy, right?

Seven Things about Me:

1.  Halloween is my favorite holiday.
2.  My first real job was cleaning stalls at a racehorse stable.  So, yes, I do really know how to shovel the sh*t, but I leave this off job resumes.
3.  I blush way too easily.  In fact I blushed when I received this award, but fortunately none of you could see that.  The internet is a beautiful thing.
4.  I have a horror of public speaking.  See #3.  I used to pray for death the nights before oral presentations in school.  Things are only marginally better now.
5.  When I was a child I often forced my extended family to re-enact scenes from "Bullwinkle" and I always played Natasha.  Bit of a stretch for a blonde five year old, but I managed.
6.  My favorite movie "scene" of all time is the ice palace in Dr. Zhivago.

7.  Writing lets me do all the things I loved about painting, but with almost no mess.

I hereby award the coveted Reader Appreciation Award to (drumroll please)...

Beyond The Hourglass Bridge Because she ate glass, and survived.  GLASS.  And she's my newest CP.

D. D. Falvo's Website/Blog Drakaenwood If you haven't been, go.  Go now.  You're in for a cinematic experience and some damn fine writing (check out the Black Bee story)

Jessie Humphrie's B-Word Blog If I could bestow an award for multi-tasking she would also get that.

Laura Crampton's Stranger Than Writing She has a book with "Souls" in the title, like me, and in her most recent post she gives us (writers) permission to ramble.  At least for the first draft.

Robin Kalinich's Ink and Alchemy Title of her most recent post - What do chickens and the male member have in common?  How can you NOT go read that?

Heather M. Bryant's Into The Cuckoo's Nest Because who doesn't want to go cuckoo sometimes?  And because her blog contains the word "Nest" just like mine.  And because she follows my blog.  Karma, people, karma.

Tamara's One Magic Bean Buyer Yet another Multi-Tasker Extraordinaire - Mom of 5??? My head spins like Linda Blair's in The Exorcist just thinking about it.

Kristina Perez Last, but by no means least.  This woman could tell you off in at least a dozen languages, including Middle Welsh, but she wouldn't because she's far too nice.  Also a wonderful CP and brilliant writer.

I would have liked to award some other blogs too, but it would look too much like sucking up when they're judging contests I've entered.  You know who you are.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Inspirational Thursday 9/13/12

Why Thursday? 

Thursday's Child has far to go - and most days nothing seems further away than the gleaming spires and golden turrets of the Kingdom of Published Authors.  It's like the Emerald City or Cinderella's Castle, only better. 

My Fairy Godmother appears to be on sabbatical because I've seen no evidence of a pumpkin coach.  I'll be trudging through the Quagmire of Querying (huge risk here of slipping into the Slushpile from which few writers return), launching my manuscript into the Sea of Submissions, and climbing the Precipice of Publication without her help.  Wish me luck.

Writing something is the first step.  That's where the inspiration comes in.  On Thursdays I'll share the things that made me say "Now, THAT might be fun to write about!"

Please feel free to add your own inspirations in Comments.

Talking Headstones - As you can imagine, this news item caught my eye!

The old fashioned, low-tech way

Techy-entrepreneurs have come up with the genius idea of QR codes for grave markers.   Visitors with smartphones can access a website with details about the dearly departed - photos, videos, testimonials. 
Password-protected of course! 

Do I have to worry about who will "like" me on my Dead-Face(book) page?

Richard III's Remains Discovered

Here's something you might not have known - when I was a teenager I belonged to the Richard III Society.  Along with the occult, the bubonic plague, and horses, I was obsessed with the Tudor and Plantagenet dynasties.  My Aunt Sybil and PBS are partially to blame.

British archaeologists believe they've unearthed Richard III's skeletal remains.  The spine shows evidence of scoliosis.  Yes, Shakespeare said he was a "hunchback", but Will's smear campaign was cleverly designed to please his patroness "Good" Queen Bess, granddaughter of Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII.  Same Henry who stole Richard's crown.  (Henry was Welsh which makes things tricky for me, divided loyalties and so on.)  Some may doubt Elizabeth's claims of virginity, but nobody disputes her considerable political acumen.  

The poor butchered skeleton also shows a lodged arrowhead and a skull-crushing fatal injury, most likely delivered by a battle axe.  At least it was probably quick.  Quicker than the plague.  Yes, I could play six degrees of separation with the Black Death.  Who'd like to join me?

Here's a picture of him (then, not now obviously).  DNA testing will prove whether or not they've got the right corpse.
I no longer belong to  The Richard III Society but might go poke around for old time's sake.

And finally this...

I don't write Sci-Fi or Horror (though some of my characters have horrible things happen to them), but IF I did, I think a mass migration of crustaceans might make an awesome inciting incident. 
Angry, ruthless crabs... Crab dip, anyone?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Know There's A Story (or two) Here

Yahoo! is chock-a-block full of inspiration this morning.  Which news tidbit (technically I think it's supposed to be "titbit" but I just can't bring myself to say that, even in print) do you think makes the best story idea?  Tell me which one inspires you in Comments.

1.  Moths and bleeding canker are destroying the stately elms of Europe (this includes the ones at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, see a photo of me there on the Tendril post).  Sick trees are toppling over on unsuspecting motorists.  I don't know about you, but the words "bleeding canker" get my creative juices flowing...

2.  Giant earthworm takes over backyard.  How's that for a picture book idea?  My backyard is currently being taken over by toadstools.  It's very 1970s retro looking at the moment.  All I need now are a couple of frogs and an owl or two.


3.  Exploding stars are carving out "gas cavities" in other galaxies.  Alright, I'm NOT a sci-fi writer and every time my family watches Star Wars I go hide in my office, but if I WERE a sci-fi buff this would hook me in a nanosecond, or at warp speed, or whatever.

4.  Seven year old girl surives the bubonic plague.  Fine, I will confess that at one point during my teen years I was unhealthily obsessed with reading about the bubonic plague.  The Black Death.  Who wouldn't want to learn more about something called that?  Anyway, I'm glad she survived, it's a horrible way to go.

5.  Kim Kardashian's body insecurities.  Good God, no.  But how about "Snooki and the Black Death"?  Isn't that a snappy title for a kids' book?  Sorry, I'm getting obsessed again.  Jeesh.

6.  Trees eating man-made things, like signs.  There was an even better photo on a site called satanslaundromat dot com, but I'm afraid to ask permission to use "his" photo.  But I might have to go see why Satan needs a laundromat.  Although now that I think of it, laundromats generally are rather Hellish, so maybe all laundromats belong to Satan.  Who knew?

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet & Greet

Questions for the GUTGAA Meet and Greet

-Where do you write?  In my home office is where the thoughts get nailed to a hard drive but I write in my head when I'm walking, driving, pretending to watch TV, falling asleep, etc.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? Sleeping Jack Russell Terriers - they take their supportive role quite seriously.

-Favorite time to write? Mornings, after walking with my dogs.

-Drink of choice while writing? Coffee, hot, iced, doesn't matter.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Silence is best though I often listen to something prior to actually writing to get into a particular mood that relates to the work.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? A combo of location (my favorite local old graveyard) and online images of 19th century women with albinism.

-What's your most valuable writing tip? Have a reasonably clear idea of your book's destination/end, but allow yourself freedom during the journey. 
Mini-bio:  Fancier of all things Gothic, vintage, and beautiful (separately or in combination).  Choco-fiend.  Dog wrangler.  Beachcomber.  Nature lover.  Housework slacker.  Easily irritated by pen clicking, gum smacking, change jingling and tuneless whistling.