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S.G. Cardin
Monday, 15 December 2008
More thoughts on Gothic Lit & Holiday Life
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing
Just a few more thoughts on Gothic Lit...

Another influential author in the Gothic tradition was Edgar Allen Poe. In "The Fall of the House of Usher," he explored such classic gothic themes of decay, death, and madness, but he added his own twist - and looked into the terrors of the soul.

Also writing along with Poe, was Emily Bronte. "Wuthering Heights," explored gothic elements on the Yorkshire Moors through the brooding Heathcliff character.

With Bram Stroker's "Dracula," the most famous gothic villian ever was created - Dracula. Stoker also established Easter Europe as a favorite locale for the genre. More recently, in the 1930's HP Lovecrft has been connected with the genre, blending gothic elements with horror, setting a new bar for writers.

Romance has also been blended with the gothic genre. During the 1950's, 60's, 70's, such authors as Victoria Holt, and Dorothy Fletcher focused on the female and her connection to a "gloomy" castle.

Another sub-genre is known as "southern" gothic. This sub-genre takes traditional gothic elements and plants them in the Southern United States.

Next final thoughts on Gothic - what are the elements?

Also - you can find this article on Gothic Lit in my official monthly newsletter. You can sign up by visiting my website at sgcardin.tripod.com and going to the bottom of the page.


*******
Life

As usual, life is keeping me busy.  I had the usual slew of appointments for Joe.  He did better at his group last week.  He sat down in the chair longer and attended to tasks longer which was nice.  The ladies at group say it will take him 3 weeks to settle in so we've got another week.  

I've been working on my novel, "The Wolf's Kiss." I'm officially half-way down now. I'll be starting the "Hungary" section of it now.  I've also developed it's official title - The Hungarian. It's a very different story from the Short Story I wrote in 2006, but I believe it's a lot more developed.

Later on today, I'll be working on my official newsletter and I hope to have that out within a day or two.

I'm currently reading: Alison Weir, "The Wars of the Roses." If you love history, esp. British history, you'll find her look at this complex time fascinating. She writes in a very engaging way that, for me at least, brings history to life.

It rained last night, but it looks to be clearing a bit now. I need to mail my sister's Christmas gift off today so I'll probably tackle that once I pick Andrew up from school if it doesn't start to rain again.

Anyone else have any thoughts on Gothic Lit? Love to hear them.  Does anyone have any good gothic short stories or novels they can recommend?

Smiles,
Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 8:43 AM
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Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Life & Writing Thoughts on Gothic Lit
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Writing
Life

I know it's been a while since I've written - the Christmas rush is on! Not only that, Joseph started his "group" on Thurs and Fri and it's from 1030 to 1230 which makes those days very hectic for me. As for Christmas, I did a bulk of my shopping yesterday.  I took Joseph to the mall with me and he was great for being 2! He waved "hi" to everyone and every so often even said "hewlo" in the soft little voice of his.  He was smiling and happy.  I kept him occupied with popcorn and milk which seemed to work. Mind you, I had to know where I was going and what I wanted.  Joseph is not for "browsing," but considering he's two, I thought he did great.  I was able to get the ornaments for our ornament exchange and some and ends stuff.  I went to the "Candleman" with Andrew (he loves to go there) and we sorted through Yankee Candle scents until we settled on "Red Berry and Cider" for our home Christmas scent. I thought at one point they had bayberry but the lady they hadn't carried bayberry in at least 3 years.   After that, we went to Costco to grind the coffee beans I forgot to do last week and when we got home, Andrew and I decorated our Christmas tree.  He had a blast. Joseph was a little impatient with us...
Writing

Now onto the writing thought of the day. I thought I'd tackle the different genres in couple of my upcoming posts and today I thought I'd look at Gothic Lit.  A GREAT book that really captures the flavor of Gothic writing that's very recent is "THE 13TH TALE."



Gothic Lit got it's start in 1764 when Horace Walpole wrote "The Castle of Otranto." Walpole's story contained all the elements to define the gothic genre. Throughout the years, many authors have taken their stab at writing gothic lit, putting their own unique spin on it.

Ann Radcliffe, writing in 1794 gave the genre a sense of legitamcy when she questioned the supernatural elements, explaining them away as natural causes. She also introduced the brooding villain, who by the end of the story, is revealed to be the hero.

Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, was definitely influenced by Gothic elements, but her novel is considered one of the first science fiction novels to be written.

I'll have more thoughts on Gothic Lit tomorrow.

Smiles,
Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 11:21 AM
Updated: Tuesday, 9 December 2008 11:21 AM
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Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Internet Book Signing Today - 2 DEC
Mood:  bright
Topic: Writing
Just wanted to remind you all that my Internet Book Signing is going on today for my novel, "All That Remains." Pop on over to my messageboard to check it out.

http://therogerhowarthphotogallerycommunity.yuku.com/topic/1149

Yuku isn't taking my html code and I don't have all day to figure it out, so if you want a copy of the book send $15.95 to my PayPal account at Botrinarocks@hotmail.com

You'll get an autograph, bookmark, magnets and pens.  It's a steal. hehe. 

All That Remains was written in 2002 and is a contemporary romance. Darrin Banning is a widower who is being sued by his in-laws for custody of his daughter.  Darrin hires a lawyer, Kristina Rivers, to represent him.  The sparks fly between Darrin & Kristina. Will a romance between the two ruin his chances of retaining his daughter's custody?  You'll have to check out the book.

Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 12:10 PM
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Sunday, 30 November 2008
Writing Stuff & A Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing
Just wanted to drop a quick line.  Every genre has it's "rules" and in order to be successful in that genre it's best to follow the rules.  Now, sometimes you can break the rules and it works out great, but the best way to break the rules is to know them well.  Here are a couple rules for the romance genre:

Thinking of writing a romance novel? There are a couple of rules and guidelines that writers should keep in mind when they start out.

The traditional structure of a romance novel starts with the introduction of the characters and the problem. The writer can then begin to expand the characterization and intimacy of the story. At the mid-point of the novel there's a culmination of physical intimacy. The characters are then introduced to a new problem and the story should end with the resolution of the relationship.

Once the structure of the story has been plotted out, there are several plot points to consider, one being "happy ever after." A romance isn't a romance unless there's a happy ever after. This is a pretty set rule. If you keep to the traditional structure of a romance, but don't allow for a happy ever after, you have a relationship novel, not a romance.

Another pretty firm rule is known as "I've only got eyes for you." When the heroine and the hero meet, the story is about how they come together as a couple. There's no room for a third party love interest because then someone doesn't get happy ever after.

A third rule of romance writing involves point of view. The main point of view should be written using the heroine's perspective. Readers enjoy the hero, but he's not the one who is going to give the emotional content the story needs to reach the reader.

The romance genre, however, is very forgiving when it comes to multiple character points of view in a scene. This is commonly known as the "Lonesome Dove" point of view. This perspective switches between characters within a scene. Most professional editors/readers tend to shy away from it because it's also "head hopping" and that can be confusing.

Once the writer has established a plot that follows the above rules, then they incorporate the other rules which allow for a little leeway in the story. These rules encompass readers coming to care about the characters, identifying with the heroine and falling in love with the hero.


And now... another review.
Enjoy {e:bigsmile}
Steph

*********************

Book Review for: “A Woman in Berlin”
Written by: Anonymous
259 pages
Picador
ISBN: 0-312-42611-9-51400
$14.00
5 Stars


“A Woman in Berlin” tells the amazing story of the fall of Berlin in 1944 and the subsequent Russian invasion before the allies arrived.  The Anonymous author paints a riveting picture of the war’s aftermath and chronicles in brutal detail what she had to do to stay alive.

The novel is told in a journal format and starts on Friday, April 20, 1945. The story is by an anonymous woman who describes herself only as a thin, pale blond who wears the same overcoat. Her first entry presents a graphic scene. Berlin is under siege by the Russians. The author knows the Russians are about to liberate the city and she’s dreading it. They don’t have a good reputation as liberators. She lives in an apartment building with several other residents. The rations are poor, there’s no radio, and there’s no electricity. Gas stoves, central heating, and hot plates are all “gifts of the modern age,” but ineffectual if there’s no power.

The bombs intensify around Berlin. The fighting heats up and then nothing. An eerie lull settles over he city. The author writes with unflinching honesty noting how the German society was built around the strength of their men, but now shattered, their men are miserable and powerless, leaving the German women at the mercy of their conquerors.

On April 27, the author notes that the Russians have entered Berlin. They’ve quickly earned the nickname of “Ivan.” She realizes that in order to be safe, she had better find a Russian officer to watch over her. She knows that in order to earn his favor she’ll have to be intimate with him, but it’s a risk she’s willing to take.

The author is candid. Having worked as a reporter previously, she can speak Russian. The initial Russians she meets are surprised by her. She seeks out a Russian lieutenant, Anatol, and becomes involved with him. He’s good to her and she gets used to him. Their relationship is short-lived. He’s soon transferred and a man known at the Major comes into the author’s life as her new lover and protector. The Major is tender and respectful of her, something that is stunning to her.

Slowly, but surely, Berlin starts to come alive. Basic services are beginning to be restored. By the end of the novel, which ends on June 16, with her own announcement that she intends to stop writing, the author meets with her fiancé, Gerd, who after discovering how she’s slept with several Russian men after the city’s fall, leaves her a final time. The novel concludes with the announcement of American and British forces taking over the southern part of Berlin, giving the author a sense of hope after the Russian misery she’s endured.

One of the main themes throughout the novel is the rape of Berlin after the city falls – not only of it’s possessions, but of it’s women. The author chooses to give her body to Russian officers, (the officers have a reputation of keeping a woman relatively safe, whereas an enlisted man was known to rape a woman) but she still feels no better than a whore. After a pregnancy scare, she wonders how many other women have done what she has only to end up pregnant by a Russian soldier.

The author humanizes a slice of history that is slowly fading from our view. The book is raw and honest, discussing uncomfortable truths that today are still uncomfortable. Rich in history, “A Woman in Berlin,” is a stirring and poignant read.

Posted by sgcardin at 9:24 AM
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Saturday, 29 November 2008
Thanksgiving Thoughts & A Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: The Bangles, Doll Revolution
Topic: Life
It's been a couple of days and I just wanted to touch bases with you all.  We celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday.  My son, who is in first grade, came home about two weeks ago and told me Thanksgiving was "lame." Well, I couldn't have that. I got him involved.  First we planned a menu and compromised a little.  We had "White Castles" on it and Turkey of course.  I also whipped some banana smoothies for him which he enjoyed.  We baked cookies, cake, and a blueberry pie.  And I got us some matching Turkey Day aprons. Soon, Thanksgiving wasn't lame anymore, but cool.  I had him help decorate the dining room and we went to the candle store and sniffed candles, picking "spiced pumpkins" from Yankee Candle. It was a little extra effort on my part to get him involved but it was well worth it. He had a great time on Thanksgiving but it was because of the prep work.  

The moral of my story:  A little effort and quality time w/your kids go along way.


Yesterday, we took advantage of Knott's Berry Farm's Police/Fire salute and took the family.  All Fire/Police got in free and brought in a guest for free. Andrew, my 6 year old, rode the log flume and liked it. He's a bit conservative in what kind of rides he picks so I was glad he was a little daring with the Log Flume. Joseph traveled, rarely any fuss until he passed out toward the end of the day.  We saw the Knott's Berry Farm parade. It was kind of busy yesterday - heck, I thought more people would be at the stores shopping for sales.

That said, my husband Brent was actually at Target when it opened at 6 am! I couldn't believe he was game to go, but he was.  He didn't get anything we talked about though.  He didn't want to wait in line for the Wii accessories, he couldn't find the Wii pajamas we wanted to get Andrew and play tent we wanted to get Joseph was sold out. He sent me a text message from Target "It's a zoo."  No kidding, Sweetie. You had to expect that.  We'll look for that stuff a little later on in the week. It just might be work paying the few extra bucks for our shopping sanity.

Anyone have any good Black Friday tales they want to share?
And now...a review. Enjoy.
Steph

*******

Book Review for: “Fangs for the Memories”
Written by: Kathy Love
285 pages
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1131-7
$14.00
4.5 Stars


Kathy Love enters the realm of paranormal romance with her first book in the Young series, “Fangs for the Memories.” Love paints wonderfully romantic yet surreal scenes in this juicy offering which fans of the genre are sure to enjoy.

    Rhys Young is a brooding, moody vampire trapped in a human world. Filled with compassion, he rarely feeds from humans, preferring to get his blood in other ways. It’s not as satisfying, but it serves his conscious. He owns part of a nightclub with his brothers, Christian and Sebastian, and has chosen to seclude himself from the world due to his nocturnal nature. Part of his decision is due to his personality, and part of it is due to his background, having been an English viscount over 200 years ago.

    The story opens with Rhys coming to the aid of a young woman, Jane, who is being assaulted in an alley. Jane’s attacker gets away, but not after pistol whipping Rhys. Jane stays by his side and helps Rhys to his apartment with the assistance of his brothers. When Rhys comes to, he’s suffering from a bout of amnesia. Rhys mistakes Jane for his “intended,” and wraps her in an intimate embrace. Jane guilty enjoys Rhys’s advances, but assures him they aren’t engaged. It’s Sebastian who realizes that for the first time in his brother’s life, Rhys has unlocked the gate around his cool heart. Sebastian encourages Rhys to win Jane’s affections. Jane, who has lived a lonely life and was looking for a little direction is vulnerable to Rhys’s charms.

    Jane finds Rhys’s accent and old style mannerisms enchanting, but she has concerns over his habits. She notes how he only goes out at night and doesn’t care for mirrors. The chemistry between them is undeniable and Rhys’s hot kisses soon lead to nights of sinful passion.

    Jane and Christian soon notice the puncture wounds Rhys has left on her body. Christian, who has always harbored a deep seated resentment against his brother, conspires to keep Rhys and Jane apart. It soon comes down to the fact that Jane is dying from Rhys’s bites, bites he’s been unaware of because of his amnesia. The only way to save Jane is to make her a vampire. After Christian’s deception is revealed, and Rhys regains his memory, both he and Jane have tough choices to make. To save her life, will Jane allow Rhys to take the ultimate bite? The ending will satisfy those enjoy the paranormal romance genre.

    Love’s storytelling easily engages her readers. Her characters are interesting and dynamic. Love does write in a “Lonesome Dove” perspective, which switches point of view with no clear divisions or line breaks. This might be disconcerting to the reader. There’s a good blend of dialogue and narration.  Her love scenes are erotic and tender. “Fangs for the Memories,” is a story that allows the reader to deliciously escape in its romantic fantasy.

Posted by sgcardin at 8:11 AM
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Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Housekeeping Stuff
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Nickelback
Topic: Writing
I just wanted to spiff up my house before Thanksgiving hit and I'd be off line for a bit. I have a couple of announcements:

My Official Online Newsletter is back up! After a time demanding summer, I finally budgeted it my time to put together my first newsletter in six months. Now that it's back, it's back for good.  My newsletter covers a variety of topics.  I usually touch upon:

A main writing topic
Any holiday that the newsletter fall into
A character study and how to put together character bios
Weight Watcher recipes
Thoughts on the Writing World,
& Upcoming Events

I also list the organizations I belong to, my writing credits and how to get copies of my books.

DECEMBER'S UPCOMING EVENTS:

NTERNET BOOK SIGNING


I'm hosting an Internet book signing for my book, "All That Remains." The book was released in 2002 and is a contemporary romance that takes place in Manchester, NH. Visit my official site's messageboard on MONDAY, DEC 1 and order my book. I'll be giving out a discount. The book will cost $15.75 including shipping and handling and will include my autograph, a bookmark, magnets, and a set of pens.

NOV/DEC WRITING CONTEST

Visit my official messageboard on my site and enter your poetry in this month's contest.  Prizes include Amazon gift cards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Here's a link to my Official Messageboard:  http://therogerhowarthphotogallerycommunity.yuku.com/forum/view/id/3

You have to have a user account for Yuku, and the accounts are free. If you need any help signing up for one, send me an email and let me know.

If you'd like to subscribe to my official online newsletter visit my website at:

 http://sgcardin.tripod.com

and scroll down to the bottom of the page. It's got the sign up for the newsletter there. Come on over and check it out. I'd love to add you to the list.

{b}A little more about THEME{/b}

I just wanted to touch a little more on theme, something I mentioned yesterday. Theme was the concept that held the story together. It was the journey the main character took to change and grow. Some common themes are:

finding ourselves,
fulfilling our calling,
betrayal
justice vs injustice
loyalty
sexism
racism

I'd love hear your thoughts on theme. Also, if you've just read a great book or heard some great music - share. I'm always looking for new stuff.

Smiles,
Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 10:47 AM
Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2008 10:48 AM
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Monday, 24 November 2008
Steph's Writing Thought of the day and A Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing
It's been a busy morning. I was putting together my Official Online Newsletter and my two year old wants me to play with him.  Sigh... I've been meaning to get here sooner, so forgive. My writing thought of the day is: THEME.

What is theme?  Well, it's like the glue that holds your story together. It's the story arc that your main character takes.  Some examples of theme are:

Greed is not good
Coming of Age
Love wins out in the end.

Can you think of any stories which highlight those themes?

In my novel, "The Wolf's Torment," the main theme is a coming of age story. Prince Mihai is 18 years old and must soon learn how to govern a kingdom, but as the prologue, and his father, King Stelian, implies, Mihai is still a boy chasing a girl's skirts.  As the book continues, Mihai realizes he has to "grow up," because so many people depend on him.  Since he's the main character of the novel, he takes on that journey with him. Without a strong or steady theme to keep your plot steady, all you have are scenes, really.  Unless you know where you want to take your main character (that's what the theme gives you) he'll just go from scene to scene and the growth or development of him will be lacking.

Anyone want to share some themes they're tackling in their writing?

And now... another book review. Enjoy
Smiles,
Steph

Book Review for “John”

Written by: Cynthia Lennon
Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 0-340-89511-X
404 Pages
20 pounds
5 Stars

Cynthia Lennon starts her autobiographical tale reflecting on the death of her famous ex-husband, John Lennon and within the first chapter reveals two insights into John’s personality that haven’t really been discussed before in books about the Beatles. It’s a catchy start to a heartwarming, sweet, yet tragedic tale.

As the book starts, Cynthia is a teenager beginning art college. Shortly thereafter she encounters John Lennon. The two make an unlikely couple. She was raised in a nice neighborhood to be a “good” girl and John Lennon is a teenager rebel with only one cause – rock and roll.

Cynthia points out they had several things in common in the book – they were both short sighted and bonded over losing their parents when they were seventeen. (Cynthia lost her father when she was seventeen and John lost his mother.) Soon, Cynthia and John embark on a relationship. Her love is what John needs. She’s a steady constant in his life which is filled with uncertainty.

Cynthia is there before John and the Beatles make it famous. She talks of their humble beginnings and John’s family. We learn John’s Aunt Mimi, the woman who raised him, is a very totalitarian matriarch who very rarely showed John small, simple, loving gestures. John also has two younger sisters who adore him, Jacqui and Julia. There are so many sides to John. He’s in love, yet has a ferocious jealous side to him. He can be kind and tender, yet John dislikes confrontation. An example of this is how Pete Best is told to leave the band. Brian Epstein breaks the news to Pete and John never sees him again.

Cynthia and John had been with each other four years before their son Julian is conceived. John marries her right before the Beatles begin to take off. As the Beatles ride the wave of fame, Cynthia is by John’s side. It isn’t easy for the couple, but their love gets them through.

The book shifts when Cynthia begins to talk of John’s drug use. It’s his use of drugs that drives a wedge between them. John’s decline and destruction is sad to read about in such a personal way. The way he cuts Cynthia and Julian out of his life is quick, deliberate, precise, and very hurtful. Cynthia must find her own way with little financial support from John.

It’s hard to put this book down. The beginning draws you in and the reader barely has a chance to catch their breath. Happiness quickly turns to misery, pain, and despair much in the same manner as the Beatles overwhelming success turns sour at the end of the sixties.

Cynthia offers fresh insights on a musical history that has been practically hashed to death by the number of books written by the Beatles. Her thoughts and impression on Yoko are not put out there in a mean-spirited way – instead Cynthia presents the facts as is and lets the reader come to their conclusions. This is a wonderful read for those who are true fans of the Beatles and John Lennon.

Posted by sgcardin at 11:39 AM
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Saturday, 22 November 2008
Steph's Writing Thought of the day and A Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Mereditch Brooks, "Blurring The Edges"
Topic: Writing
I don't have much time, but I thought I'd pop on in and leave you with this food for thought:

Research.

What about you ask? It's a valuable tool for you, the writer.  Research gives your writing {b}authenticity.{/b}  But I don't have the ability to research, you argue.  YOU DO. Trust me.  If you're on the Internet right now, you can Google anything. Research has helped bring authenticity to may writing. I've written several stories that have been researched.  THE MUSIC BOX, THE WATCH TOWER, and RED PAINT, CRIMSON BLOOD are all stories that I researched.  They all received Honorable Mentions in Writer's Digest Competition and I believe they did goo because I researched them.

Of course you can always go to a library. You can read several books on the topic you want to write about.  You can watch a movie, you can go VISIT the place you want to write about.  Say you're writing a Gothic tale that takes place in colonial New England.  You can go visit Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.  You can't there? Google it.  Use Google maps to give you a reference where it is.  

That said, anyone else want to share their research tips?
Smile,
Steph

That said, it's time for my daily book review...

Book Review for: “Wanting What You Get”
Written By: Kathy Love
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-8217-7613-4
320 pages
$5.99
5 Stars

Kathy Love weaves a masterful tale of contemporary romance in “Wanting What You Get.” Set in Millbrook, Maine, this is the second installment of the “Stepp Sisters” series. Ellie Stepp works as the town’s librarian. Just when she thinks she’ll never find love, she’s in for a surprise. Love’s writing is crisp. “Wanting What You Get” is a satisfying romantic escape to New England.

Ellie’s sisters, Abby and Marty, left Millbrook to find adventure outside of Maine, but Ellie stayed behind finding a job as the town’s librarian. At Abby’s wedding, Ellie, as the maid of honor, is paired with Mason Sweet, Chase’s longtime friend and best man. Mason is also the town’s mayor and someone Ellie has secretly harbored a torch for since high school.

Mason is a hard edged character. His wife left him and he feels as if he’s going through the motions in his life. He shares a dance with Ellie and comes to see her for the sweet, honest person she is.

Mason does his best to fight his attraction to Ellie. She’s a kind girl and he’s a downright scoundrel. On occasion, he also drinks too much. Ellie, however, doesn’t want to fight the attraction between them. She wants to embrace it. Her steadfast nature gets through to Mason, but he falls asleep before he can make love to her. The next morning, a sober Mason apologizes and Ellie forgives him. They make love and begin a heated, yet secret affair.

Mason adores Ellie. He finds her honest and down-to-earth, unlike his wife who was materialistic. However, he believes it’s better to keep the affair a secret so as to keep Ellie’s reputation safe since he’s such a scoundrel.

Ellie loves spending time with Mason. She accepts him as he is. Their lovemaking is torrid and untamed, awakening Ellie’s passion. Soon, the couple grow emotionally close. Mason admits to Abby and Chase that he’s seeing Ellie, but when his haughty parents show up, he gets drunk and breaks up with Ellie.

Ellie doesn’t have time to be sorry for herself. She’s pregnant with Mason’s baby. When he finds out, he goes to Ellie and proposes. Ellie says no to him – he’s a drunk and needs to get his act together. Mason starts going to AA. The ending is a rich reward for the reader.

Love’s follow up to “Getting What You Want,” is emotionally more complex which makes it that much more enjoyable.  Her love scenes are vivid and full of emotional passion. Love’s dialogue engages the reader. The names of her character have symbolic meaning. She does write in a “Lonesome Dove” perspective without any clear divisions or line breaks which can be disconcerting to some.  Her plot and pacing are right on point, allowing the reader to slow down and take a breath before the action starts again. “Wanting What You Get,” is a great book to curl up with for some late night reading.

Posted by sgcardin at 9:20 AM
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Friday, 21 November 2008
Steph's Writing Thought of the day and A Book Review
Mood:  caffeinated
Now Playing: Pink
Topic: Writing
Just wanted to share my "writing" thought of the day. Yesterday, I talked about entering competitions to establish writing credentials and hone your writing.  Today, I just wanted to talk about the process used to put a novel a together - at least for me.

Plot
You've got to have a compelling plot. There's got to be a firm beginning, middle, and end. Also, be aware of the genre you're writing for.  Romance and Gothic genres have very specific rules that should be followed. Sculpt a plot around the rules of the genre you're writing for.

Pacing
Allow for action oriented scenes - in fact try to work it out so your beginning is full of action that hooks a reader.  In between the action, have character building scenes. These slow the pace down a little and let the reader catch their breath before you dive back into the action.

Characters
Have interesting and compelling characters.  The main character has to grow and change. They've got to be dynamic.  Make your supporting cast interesting.

Mechanics
Master the mechanics so you present a polish product.  No one wants to read a story riddled with punctuation and spelling mistakes.

Write the first draft
And then when you're done, get feedback. Tweak it.  I found in that writing the first draft, I'm getting used to the characters.  When it comes time to write the second draft, I'm more secure in that because I know my characters a lot better.  EXPECT to write 2nd 3rd and even 4th drafts.

Edit
I can't say enough about editing.  Editing polishes your product. Self-editing is a skill though and one that has to be acquired through continuous editing on your part.  Writing is 10% writing and 90% editing.

In future entries, I'll take apart the process one by one and look a little more indepth at it.

And now... my daily review. Enjoy.

Book Review for: “Suddenly You”
Written By: Lisa Kleypas
Avon Books
ISBN: 0-380-80232-5
375 pages
$7.50
5 Stars

Lisa Kleypas, A New York Times bestselling author, crafts a masterful historical romance with “Suddenly You.” Kleypas is a skillful plotter. “Suddenly You” is a book the reader can’t put down.

The novel starts in 1835 against the backdrop of London’s fast moving society. Jack Devlin is a young, successful publisher, bastard son of an Earl who grew up at an abusive school. He enjoys the company of the female sex, but doesn’t want to lose his heart to a woman.

Amanda Briars is a successful novelist – a rare accomplishment for a woman in her time, but after carrying for her sick parents, Amanda is past what everyone considers her prime – she’s thirty. Amanda’s settled into the fact that she’s a spinster. Against her better judgment, she visits a high-priced bordello. She wants to hire a man to have sex with her on her birthday. The madam, Mrs. Bradshaw, arranges for Jack, unwittingly, to meet with Amanda.

Jacks wants to meet Amanda because he wants to publish a novel she wrote. When she opens the door, there’s some serious miscommunication between them and Jack takes advantage of Amanda’s plight. The would-be lovers kiss and grow amorous, but Jack calls it off before going too far. When he leaves, Amanda secretly hopes to see him again.

The next time Jack and Amanda meet it’s in a business setting. Amanda is embarrassed, but Jack is thrilled. He loves Amanda’s writing and offers her a contract she can’t refuse. Soon, they begin working together as writer/editor and their chemistry is undeniable. After attending Jack’s Christmas party, Amanda gives into the passion between her and Jack. The couple make love, but Amanda, wanting to guard her heart, makes Jack agree to a three month affair.

Both Jack and Amanda enjoy their passionate lovemaking. During an evening out, they make love in a small parlor, however, Jack is careless and Amanda is soon pregnant.

Knowing how Jack feels about marriage, she tries to keep the truth from him, but when she attempts to marry someone else, Jack refuses to let her. He marries her after she confesses the truth about the baby. Amanda is still unsure about the situation, but their marriage and their willingness to admit their love is tested when Amanda loses the baby.

Kleypas is a master at description, painting 1830’s London with broad, yet vivid words that easily allow the reader to picture the backdrop of the story. Her love scenes are tantalizing. Kleypas writes in a “Lonesome Dove” perspective which switches point of view without line breaks or clear divisions which some readers might find disconcerting. Her dialogue is “spot on,” for the time period. The plot and pacing are perfect, allowing the reader to slow down and get a breath before accelerating again. “Suddenly You” is a delicious way to spend a rainy weekend.


Any Lisa Kleypas fans? I'd love to hear what you have say about her. It's my first book I read from her and I was impressed.

Smiles,
Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 9:23 AM
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Thursday, 20 November 2008
Steph's Writing Tidbit & a Story
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing

  I just wanted to blog a few thoughts on the writing world before I have to start the day. It's been a while since I've been out to cruise the Internet, so I'm not very much up to date with the latest happenings, but some tidbits never change much and so I offer this nugget for you to muse.

You've finished your writing project and you're ready to query agents. Where to start? Where to begin? I'll cover query letters in another Writing World Tidbit, but when you do get ready to write that query letter, you want to convey to the agent that you do some creditability as a writer. But if you're a working mom, how can you get that creditability? One of the things that works for me is to enter writing contests.

I don't enter just any old writing contests. Some aren't very legit. But the one I LOVE to enter and I enter every year is the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition. They usually receive over 17,000 entries. They have one GRAND prize winner and they have 10 competition category FIRST PLACE winners. Then those who score 2-100 get certificates for being an Honorable Mention. If you're an honorable mention winner that is a writing credit and that's something you can put on your query letter to let the agent know that hey, my writing has been recognized. Their entries are due by June and they post the winners in Oct.

I also enter Writing Digest Popular Fiction Contest as well. Last year they received over 3,000 entries. They had 5 categories and only give out honorable mentions to the top five who place. Both my stories I entered received honorable mentions. I even got a call from WD's congratulating me on my accomplishment. I didn't get the grand prize, but I got something I could put on a query letter. For the Pop Fiction Contest, their entries are due in Nov and are announced in March.

By entering WD's contest, I''m establishing legit credentials as a writer. Sure, it's slow and you need patience, but it will pay off in the end.

Here's a link to one of my stories that was recognized by the 77th Annual Writer's Digest Competition this year. It scored 8th place in the Mainstream/Literary category. In the future, consider entering WD's contests. They help to polish your writing skills and the recognition is worth it. Enjoy!

 

 http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1484802


Posted by sgcardin at 5:58 AM
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