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S.G. Cardin
Thursday, 8 January 2009
Just dropping off a book review...
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing

Just thought I'd drop this off for you Harry Potter fans...

 

Book Review for: “The Tales of Beedle The Bard”

Written by: JK Rowling

Scholastic, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0-545-12828-5

$12.99

5 Stars

 

Discover Harry Potter’s wizarding world’s unique fairytales in “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” Filled with wizarding fables that invoke “Grimm’s Fairytales,” these five short stories carry messages of hope, morality, and virtue. Rowling expands Harry Potter’s universe by sharing these magical fairytales in a writing style that’s easy to read and appeals not only to children, but adults as well.

 

The most compelling story is that of the three brothers. They encounter death as they cross a bridge. Death gives them each a gift – the elder wand, a stone that brings back the dead, and the cloak of invisibility. It is this story which is referenced in book seven of the Harry Potter series and it gives Voldemort’s driving desire to possess these objects perspective, as Voldemort was trying to find a way to cheat death.

 

The other stories are just as interesting. In “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” a self-serving wizard refuses to share the hopping pot with the townsfolk. His refusal to help others leads the hopping pot to drive him crazy until he does. In Dumbledore’s footnotes, Rowling cleverly ties in legends of our own history and talks about how the wizarding community and humans came to have separate societies.

 

“The Fountain of Fair Fortune” rebuilds trust between muggles and the magical. Three witches and a knight go on a quest and discover what they were looking for was more in their hearts than in their magic.

 

“The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” tells what happens when a magician gives up his humanity by removing his heart. Its probably the most gory of the fairytales – but its also one that captures the essence of the Grimm stories.

 

“Babbity Rabbitty and her Crackling Stump,” is one of the first stories in Harry Potter’s universe that deals with Animagi – those wizards and witches who can change into animals. In it, an arrogant king wants to be the only one who can do magic in the kingdom. A sly charlatan who can’t do magic, fools the king into becoming the Grand Sorcerer. When the king puts the charlatan on the spot, he turns to Babbitty, an old witch, to help him fool the king.

 

All the stories have folksy, fairytale appeal. They read like we would expect a fairytale to. The use of magic in the story makes little difference to the moral of the story being told.

 

The book complements Rowling’s Harry Potter series well. The writing is easy to understand. The stories are well paced. Rowling makes her characters appealing with little emotional touches reminiscent of the Harry Potter series. Overall, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” is a book all will enjoy.

 


Posted by sgcardin at 11:14 AM
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Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Keeping up with life...
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: Life
Well, I thought I'd drop a line about how busy I've been.  Let's face it - the holidays are always a hectic time.

24 DEC
Well I had this brianchild idea that I could get the family together and cook perogri's. (a Polish kind of ravioli) with a dough outside and a potato/cheese filling.  I wanted to make tons of them and spend the afternoon cooking them.  Well, it got off to a good start, but I failed to realize that not everyone wanted to cook them like I did. Needless to say, my husband wiped out a few comments that made me feel bad about even involving him. I was in a sad, foul, hurt mood until we had it out on Christmas.  Other than that the Christmas Eve dinner went well and Joseph and Andrew had a blast exchanging ornaments.

25 DEC
I was still stewing over my husband's insensitive comments and we had it out.  I was a "bitch" and got a half ass "I'm sorry" from him.  I just sucks that I can't get my point across without being a bitch.  I related my tale of sorrow to my friends back home who gave me some great coping tips for the next time it happens. And there will be a next time.  I fear after 17 years of marriage my husband is a bit too complacent and I'm an enabler because I have no stomach for verbal altercations.

Other than that we had a great time at my SIL's Kristi's. The food was awesome and Joseph played real well. The only unfortunate thing was my fight w/my husband took away from my joy of getting a laptop.

INBETWEEN
I've been working.  I can't complain.  I am working.  Sadly, my reading and writing are lacking because I have a trainee at work.  However, I move to AM watch starting on 4 JAN.  I'll be working from 10 at night until 6 in the morning so I should have plenty of time to read and write.  (I hope!) My husband has promised to pick up the slack and take Joe to his therapies and I hope he does.  I need to sleep from 7 am to at least 4 pm.  It will be interesting to see if this schedule really works out or is my own private hell for the next 3 months until I can change watches.

THE WRITING WORLD
I haven't had a chance to troll the boards lately.  I did get some great feedback on my opening chapter of THE WOLF'S KISS which I'm going to retitle THE HUNGARIAN.  Now, if only I can find time to write...

Smiles,
Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 1:22 PM
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Sunday, 28 December 2008
More Publishing Industry Thoughts & Comments
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing
This is another piece I found on my Mike's Writing Workshop Group that I belong to on Yahoogroups.com:

David Didriksen, a bookstore from Massachusetts had an interesting
op/ed in 12/22/08  Shelf Awareness:

"These are hard times for our publishing brethren, and by extension,
for booksellers as well. Large publishers have been placing a
moratorium on new titles, laying off workers, firing executives and
scrambling to downsize. The lay-offs are likely to continue and
booksellers are the ones most likely to feel the aftershock."

Mr. Didriksen lists the following issues:

**an industry bloated by years of inefficiency

**cranking out too many inferior products, while failing to leverage
the best assets in its portfolio: backlist titles

**publishers that have commoditized themselves into a corner, trying
to live solely off blockbusters for the benefit of huge mass market
chains and Amazon.

As an aside, I was struck by how similar this list is to the issues
facing American automakers: failure to adapt to new technology and
focusing on short-term best-selling products instead of thinking
ahead to the future."  --  This comment is from Maya, the person who brought the piece to the group, and I have to agree with it. I think the big thing, for me, is failure to adapt to new technology, but focusing on the short term hasn't helped the industry either.

". . . publishers could benefit from new efficiencies and creative
new initiatives. Publishers might even rediscover the intrinsic value
of backlist sales . . . And Amazon is getting so powerful, it may
someday wonder whether it needs publishers at all."

"Booksellers and publishers once acted as partners in the book
industry, developing authors and promoting backlist titles, before
the lure of quick bucks in mass merchandising channels changed the
relationship. Now may be a good time to get back to basics and do
business together again if we all want to survive."

 This may help the traditional market right now and act like a transition tool like the hybrid is for the auto industry.  (what a comparison!)

Getting back to basics will help, I think. We've become so bloated on "I want it right now" and "mass marketing" techniques, I think we've gotten away from the more personalized touch of traditional publishing and marketing.  

From seeing articles like these, I'm not surprised the publishing world needs restructuring, just like the auto industry.  Let's see what happens...

Steph

Posted by sgcardin at 8:01 AM
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Monday, 22 December 2008
Honest Scrap Award
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Life

  I got the "Honest Scrap" award from WDC member Vivian Gilbert Zabel.

You can visit her blog at:http://vivianzabel.blogspot.com/

 

 
Scrap means left overs, fragments, discarded material, and many times truth and honesty is discarded material, considered fragments and left over. So, we need to tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will.

The guidelines for winning this award include the following:

1. List 10 honest things about yourself (make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep)
2. Pass the award on to 7 bloggers

My 10 Picks:

#1 - I was married in Denmark, in a city called Nykobig. A Justice of the Peace married us. I'm still married 17 years later to the same guy.

#2 - My mother was abusive toward me when I was a teenager. That's why I joined the army.

#3 - I was an MP in the army from 1986-1997.

#4 - My first published poem was in my high school's literary magazine. The poem was called, "It Didn't Hurt Too Much."

#5 - I grew up drawing superhero comics.

#6 - In 1995 I received the "Outstanding Evening College Student" award from California Baptist Universary. I graduated with Honors with a BS in Political Science.

#7 - I was 33 when my first son was born.

#8 - My youngest son, Joseph, who is two, has developmental delays, specifically speech. It's very demanding and hard work to get him to his therapies, but I manage. They are working. Joe now has a vocabulary of at least ten words and it's expanding everyday.

#9 - My short story, "Spontaneous Decision," scored 8th in the Mainstream/Literary category in the recent Writer's Digest Annual Competition.

#10 - My novel, "Destination:Berlin," was inspired by my own visit to Berlin on the Berlin Orientation Tour in 1988.

Steph's 7 Honest Scrapers:

Kelly's Journal: http://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/1016769

Niki's Journal: http://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/1214476

Debi's Journal:  http://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/1369145

Maggie's Journal: http://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/1011455

Jennifer Jackson, Literary Agent Journal: http://arcaedia.livejournal.com/

Nathan Bransford, Literary Agent, Journal: http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/

Lorraine's Blog

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=30504353&blogID=457781826

 


Posted by sgcardin at 1:01 PM
Updated: Monday, 22 December 2008 1:03 PM
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Sunday, 21 December 2008
Thoughts on the Publishing Industry & These Tough Economic Times
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing
I belong to Mike's Writing Workshop on Yahoogroups and there were a couple of News articles I wanted to bring here and share my thoughts with you:

1ST ARTICLE

Got this off a news website.

NEW YORK – Another book publisher is cutting jobs: Macmillan, where
authors include Thomas Friedman, Rick Atkinson and Janet Evanovich, is
eliminating 64 positions, just under 4 percent of its work force.

"Going forward we are tightening our belts in response to the current
recession, but we are also reorganizing and rethinking our business to
position ourselves for the long term," Macmillan CEO John Sargent
wrote in a company memo, a copy of which was obtained Monday by The
Associated Press.


ME: Yes, I definitely think reorganizing is a MUST in today's tough economic times, but what will it mean for the publishing industry? How do you reorganize? What are the priorities?


Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Thomas Nelson also
have announced layoffs in recent weeks. Staff reductions are likely at
Random House Inc., which is undergoing a significant consolidation.
Other publishers, including Macmillan, have frozen wages or deferred
raises.

Sargent said Monday that it was "necessary to adjust our company and
become more efficient in the face of the market we are dealing with."
He added that there would be no cuts in the budget for acquiring books.

 Me: That's good for us aspiring authors hunting for the traditional publishing contract.

"That's 100 percent unchanged," he said in an interview.

In a move Sargent said he had been looking into for months, Macmillan
will combine its seven children's companies into a single division,
the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, effective Jan. 1. Macmillan
also plans reductions through a "centralized business and production
group for its adult and children's publishing companies," according to
the memo.

Other changes include the increased use of digital technology and
reducing Macmillan's presence at BookExpo America, the industry's
annual national convention. In the Internet age, other publishers have
questioned BookExpo's role; the show's manager, Lance Fensterman, has
said he is looking at ways to make the show more affordable and more
productive.

 ME: Consolidation and increase digital technology. Use of Internet Marketing, I wonder? Streamlining BookExpo of America.  I think are good moves, considering the times.

"I think it makes more sense to funnel our marketing dollars
elsewhere," Sargent said, referring to the book convention.

Macmillan's publishers include St. Martin's Press, Henry Holt & Co.
and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Macmillan is owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg
von Holtzbrinck, based in Stuttgart, Germany.

"We will remain a loose federation of publishers producing and selling
a remarkable collection of books by exceptional authors," Sargent
wrote in the memo.

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

2ND ARTICLE

Layoffs at Random House, Simon & Schuster

By HILLEL ITALIE – Dec 3, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — The economy has crashed down on an industry once
believed immune from the worst — book publishing — with consolidation
at Random House Inc., and layoffs at Simon & Schuster and Thomas
Nelson Publishers.

"Yes, Virginia, book publishing is NOT recession proof," said Patricia
Schroeder, president and chief executive officer of the Association of
American Publishers. "It's sad day."

At Random House, the country's largest general trade publisher, the
man who helped give the world "The Da Vinci Code" is in talks for a
new position, while the publisher of Danielle Steel and other
brand-name authors is leaving altogether.

Stephen Rubin, who released Dan Brown's blockbuster thriller in 2003,
is negotiating for a different job after Random House eliminated his
position as president and publisher of the Doubleday Publishing Group.
Bantam Dell head Irwyn Applebaum, whose many authors have included
Steel, Dean Koontz and Louis L'Amour, is departing, effective immediately.

Ouch. The guys the authors trust is leaving? Is he that expensive? 

Random House, under the leadership of chief executive officer Markus
Dohle, announced the changes Wednesday as part of a "new publishing
structure" that will "maximize our growth potential in these
challenging economic times and beyond."

Spokeswoman Carol Schneider would not say whether Applebaum, 54, was
leaving voluntarily; Applebaum and Rubin, 67, have more than 40 years
of combined experience in publishing. She said that layoffs are
possible as the company's many imprints and divisions are shifted and
split up.

"There may be difficult decisions to make and if layoffs are necessary
they will be done as fairly and as quickly as possible," she said.

Simon & Schuster has been helped by President-elect Barack Obama's
embrace of Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," but not enough to
save some 35 positions, about 2 percent of the staff. CEO Carolyn
Reidy said in a company memo Wednesday that "today's action is an
unavoidable acknowledgment of the current book-selling marketplace and
what may very well be a prolonged period of economic instability. "

Reidy added that "the entire publishing industry is coping with these
truly difficult circumstances. "

On Tuesday, a top executive at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt resigned as
the publisher faces a credit squeeze and possible sale. Meanwhile, the
head of Thomas Nelson Publishers, a Nashville, Tenn.-based company
that releases religious books, announced that about 10 percent of the
staff, "54 of our friends and co-workers," had lost their jobs.

"This will affect nearly every department in our company," CEO Thomas
S. Hyatt wrote on his blog, http://www.michaelh yatt.com.

An overhaul has been expected at Random House ever since Dohle was
hired last spring by parent company Bertelsmann AG, a German-based
conglomerate, and began a planned months-long review of the publisher.

Last month, Random House said it would freeze pensions for current
employees and eliminate them for new hires.


Me: Ouch! No pensions for new hires? 

Under the new alignment, Random House will reduce the number of its
principal divisions from five to three: The Random House Publishing
Group, the longtime home to E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou; the Knopf
Publishing Group, a literary institution that includes Toni Morrison
and John Updike; and the Crown Publishing Group, known for such
political authors as Obama and Ann Coulter.

Applebaum's Bantam Dell Publishing Group and Rubin's Doubleday
Publishing Group will be dispersed among the three divisions. Bantam
has long been in trouble as sales for mass market paperbacks dropped,
while Doubleday has been hurt by the absence of Brown's long-awaited
follow-up to "The Da Vinci Code" and by disappointing sales for a
highly publicized debut novel, Andrew Davidson's "The Gargoyle."

Dohle said Wednesday that he is hoping to "create a new role" for
Rubin at Random House, working directly with the CEO.

"As you know, Steve has successfully led Doubleday for almost two
decades and is universally respected and admired throughout the
industry for both his publishing expertise and management skills,"
Dohle said in a company memo.

Rubin, through a spokesman, declined to comment Wednesday.

Applebaum said in a statement he had been "honored to work with a
long-standing team of extraordinarily skilled colleagues at Bantam
Dell who, book by book, year after year, consistently have brought to
the marketplace more top-level best-sellers than any other group of
Random House."

Asked if he had been offered another position at Random House,
Applebaum declined to comment.

Dohle is retaining at least one Random House tradition — allowing the
divisions to bid against each other for books, a practice far more
welcomed by authors and agents than by those worried about expenses.

Me: This sounds good, considering the purse straps are tightening.

"I want to stress the fact that all the imprints of Random House will
retain their distinct editorial identities," Dohle said Wednesday.
"These imprints and all of you who support them are the creative core
of our business and essential to our success."

Also, Wednesday, The New York Times announced its 10 best books for
2008. Nine of them, including Toni Morrison's "A Mercy" and Jhumpa
Lahiri's "Unaccustomed Earth," were published by Random House Inc.

TRENDS: (Thoughts from me)

What does it mean for the future of publishing? Look at the last 10-20 years. 2 Big things have happened:

# 1 - Publishing has moved to BIG publishing houses and away from medium sized firms.

#2 - Publishers spend outrageous amounts of money to support just a handful of books they think will be successful.

Print books are here to stay, I firmly believe that. Yes, there's been an expansion in self-published books for about 10 years since IUniverse and other self-publishing firms developed, but the digital media used here, is not the same digital media traditional firms want to tap into. I think we're going to see less money thrown at traditional marketing strategies and more cost effective marketing via the Internet.

People still like to sit down and rip into a meaty book.  I do think the publishing industry is going to re-examine how they do business and MARKETING is a big area they are going to look at next to layoffs. They need to tighten the purse straps.

MY PREDICTIONS:

I think you're going to see less money thrown at a handful of books. I think you're going to see publishers and agents be very selective about who they represent.

That said, it becomes very important to establish writing creditals. Without name regconization it will be that much harder to break into traditional publishing, I think.  Attend the Writing conventions and conferences if you can.  Making personal contacts with agents and publishers might give you a foot a door esp. now.
 

Anyone care to share thoughts?

Posted by sgcardin at 4:49 AM
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Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Final Thoughts on Gothic Lit
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Writing
Here are the elements for a "Gothic" tale...

To have a novel known as "Gothic," its got to follow a set of rules. First, the setting takes place in a castle, or if the story is set in America, an old family estate. That's what makes Southern Gothic appealing, because an old plantation can be used. The estate, be it a castle, mansion, or plantation, can sometimes be abandoned, or sometimes occupied. It can be near caves to augment a mystery and may often contain secret passages, trap doors, any mysterious rooms.

Next the novel has to carry an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. In "The 13th Tale," there's an atmosphere of mystery built up around the parentage of the twins, Emmeline and Adelaine. Also, there's usually an ancient prophecy involved along with omens and visions.

There are usually supernatural events which occur. It doesn't matter if they are given a natural explanation or not, the event is what's important.

Other elements include high emotion, women in distress, a powerful or tyrannical male figure and metonymies - metaphors like rain which is used to represent something else, like sorrow.

If you're thinking of exploring this genre, read a couple of books or short stories first.  The plot and pacing must be "tight" for your story to be successful.

On  different note:
Has anyone read "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer? Any thoughts? I read the first two chapters so far - Bella has been Edward but his reaction to her has been frigid to say the least.

Posted by sgcardin at 10:15 AM
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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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