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Showing posts from April, 2009

The Lady and The Poet

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I have a favourite spot in St Pauls Cathedral that pulls me in like a magnet whenever I step through the front door - which I try to do often.

It's a small statue, probably half sized, of John Donne, who was a dean of Old St Pauls during James I's time. He was sculpted standing on an urn wearing a shroud, 'So God will recognise me.' The urn has black marks on it and one of the handles is missing - damage done during the Great Fire of London in 1666.

The statue was saved, when so many of the cathedral treasures were lost, and stored for thirty five years during the rebuilding and was re-installed in the new cathedral. I stare at it in fascination as it once stood in the pre-Fire St Pauls and still bears scorch marks.

I am now reading, 'The Lady and The Poet' by Maeve Haran about John Donne, and Ann More, the daughter of Sir George More and Lieutenant of the Tower of London, the girl the libertine opportunist poet and fomer Catholic Donne fell in love with and secre…

Where's My Muse?

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One of the members of my crit group had a bad week and threw up her hands, and her laptop probably and said, 'That's it, I can't write' and resigned from the group.

Don't we all have days like that? I certainly do. When the writing muse deserts you for a while and that last crit threw you for a loop as you worked for hours to make that conflict solution clear, but someone seemed to think otherwise and they don't like your heroine. [Whiney brat was one description I received]

You keep plugging away and sending out those darned queries and all you get back is form rejections addressed to 'Dear Author' The house is untidy because you simply don't see it anymore and who has the time when there is all this dialogue to write. The family thinks you are anti-social and obsessed because you miss whole conversations and when someone says,'Did you see that?' they follow it immediately with, 'No of course you didn't, you're too busy bashing aw…

The PoV Question

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Over the past week, I have read, three new books written in first person PoV. Well, to be accurate, I have started three books. One I discarded after chapter three, one I finished and enjoyed, and the third I am really ‘Into’ and it has inspired in me an ambition to write one of my own.

However, any critique group and other writer’s forums will tell you that First Person PoV is frowned upon by editors who advise strongly against using it. So what about these three books I picked off the shelves of Waterstones last week, all published in the last five months written in First person.

I write historical fiction, so if I am going to attempt this, I need to have a strong and interesting main character. The plot and other characters have to be seen entirely through her eyes, and yes, it will be a she. Those happenings require a unique slant to make the reader empathise with the character, are 'walked through' their life and care what happens to her.

I also have to place her in a world …

When Good Enough Isn't Good Enough

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It's been quiet round here just recently, mainly because I have been focussing on edits on my latest wip so that my agent can begin submitting [Wow! lots of passive voice] to publishers. The first three magical chapters which make or break an introduction have been polished to a fine shine, or until the gilt has started to come off, I'm not sure which!

Submitting queries and receiving rejections, or even a response at all, is a stressful time for any writer. Several authors on my critique group are in the throes of submissions, and they have reported back recently that rejections from agencies and publishers are being accompanied by glowing tributes to the storyline and style, finishing with, 'Your writing is eminently publishable, but in this current climate we are unable at this time to offer you etc etc.' or words to that effect.

Is that an encouraging response, or not?

It used to be accepted that a rejection meant your work needed more work, and if you received a few…

Editing Gems

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This last weekend, Gingersgroup have been having an impromptu editing workshop. Some of what was demanded of the authors in altering their stories were examined and discussed.

Some excellent writers and acquisition editors, among them, Ginger Simpson, Maryann Miller, Sloane Taylor, Lisabet Sarai, Lea Schizaz, Cheryl Wright, Chris Redding, all contributed and came up with some real gems they had come across in edits. Such as:

..........it almost seems SOME editors are trying to make our stories into truth rather than what we intend. I always thought being a fiction writer gave you freedoms to express yourself in your writing, but with each year, more independence is snatched away and the box of conformity gets smaller and smaller. Anyone else feel that? Some of the smaller houses have rules that mimic mainstream. I know I certainly feel the competition tightening in the six years since I debuted.

..........my publisher didn’t like the blue windbreaker. She wanted windbreaker. She didn’…

A Brief Word On Critique Groups

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I am in the process of putting my latest draft novel, a Victorian Romance set in Scotland in 1900, through one of the two critique groups I belong to. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, other writers read each other's work and comment on technical issues, characterisation and plotlines etc.

I wouldn't dream of not doing this before I asked a publisher to look at something I have written, because the other members pick up all my weak spots and lazy phraseology. They don't take prisoners and I'm thankful for it - they keep me on my toes!

I received an e-mail yesterday from one of my regular critiquers who hasn't had much time to crit lately as she is bound up with her own writing and editing work. She said she had uploaded the last few chapters I posted, and doesn't know when she can get back to critiquing, so would I mind sending her the rest of the novel as she cannot wait to see what happens!

That, I decided, is why I write - to hear things like that.

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