Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

My Five Favorites

Oh my! My wonderful and marvelously talented author friend--and online buddy, Jay, of Jay Squire's Septuagenarian Journey 's fame, has dared me to bare my soul on these pages. Oh, perhaps it's worse even, than that. He's dared me to choose my favorite child.  Goodness, I jest. But, it feels like I'm trying to choose a favorite child.  What he has challenged me to do is to choose my five favorite books.

It's a baffling, confusing, and daunting task; I have so many favorites.  But, I'll try. They might not be high on your list. Some you've probably not read. Okay, not some.  Most you've probably not read. But for some reason, these books have spoken to my very soul.  I know their characters. Really, I do. I think they still pop up occasionally, and join the other voices in my head--the fictional voices of my own creation.

That tells me that the authors did something right, something incredible.  They brought fictional characters-- and their stories, to life on the pages of a book.  And they did it so well that these stories struck a chord with me,  and it still resonates.

Without further ado, I give you my five:

Sword At Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff, published in 1963. Hands down, my all-time favorite book. Ever. As stuff of  Arthurian legends and myths go, this book stands out. It's based on years of research into the legend of one king who united all of Britain after the Romans withdrew. Artos the Bear came to life on Sutcliff's pages. A man who was denied an upbringing by his father, trained to fight by the Romans, committed the "sin" and fathered a son--which led to his demise.  Sutcliff eschewed many of the romantic elements included in most Arthurian stories, including the round table (it's not in this book) and the French invention-- Sir Lancelot--also has no place in this book. Artos was a hero, a good leader, a fair and honest man, but his vulnerability was love, and it led to his tragic downfall.

Nobody's Son by Sean Stewart copyright 1993.  Fantasy, coming of age tale. A journey, a challenge, a lesson in what happiness is, and that you can't erase the past by what you do today. It will always be there, and in many, many ways, it is what makes us who we are today. The right thing to do is to accept the past, learn from it, and embrace today.  Beautifully written--

Dancing With Eternity by John Patrick Lowrie, copyright 2011. I know. I know...but it's so new!  Still, I'm sure this one will pass my test of time.  This fantasy/scifi tale looks deceptively like just an interesting tale of space intrigue.  Read and absorb.  When the big picture hits you, it's profound.  The way Lowrie tackles the question of immortality and lets the implications slowly unravel to a beautiful and bittersweet ending is magnificent. It couldn't have ended any other way...  Lowrie certainly has some skills. I keep hoping to see something new from him.

 Bountiful Creek by Steven B Weissman. Historical fiction/romance. Published in 2012.  I know ~gasp~ even newer! This is a legendary love story.  You know, the stuff legends are made of.  :-)  Set during the stirrings of the civil war, it's the story of an 18 year old woman and her ill-fated attempt to secure enough money to buy a small farm for her and her fiance.  Weissman's debut novel is a vocabulary workoutThe bittersweet nature of the "legendary" aspect can initially blind the reader to the literary genius of the story.  That makes it an excellent second read.

One more??  Oh, this is agony! Do I choose Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor 1955--A Pulitzer Prize winning novel set during the civil war, or do I choose The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough 1977 -my daughter's name came from this book.  Or, do I go with something much newer that thoroughly resonated with me-- Girl Under Glass by Monica Enderle Pierce?? Yikes! A Thousand Splendid Suns, This Much I Know is True,  I Robot,  Contact A Tale of Two CitiesForeignerCold Allies Tuesdays With Morrie,  The Webster Dictionary copyright 1900  :-)

Yep. It's out of control. I can't pick just one more.  A daunting task, indeed ... 
 And I still have to choose some lovely people to pass this challenge on to.

Here goes:

Dana at Idiots and Earthquakes: A Writer's Blog 

Monica at Stalking Fiction

Veronica at Veronica Scott: paranormal and SF romance author

Tanya at Life's Like That 

C. Amrhein at  History Sleuth's Deductions

Marcia at Letter Go

I look forward to reading about your favorite books--and I'm curious what has inspired you. If you don't have time--I know how busy life gets, that's fine :-) 

If you do want to do this, please leave me a comment anywhere on this blog after your post is up. I want to read it!  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors February 24, 2013

 Week 4 "Endless and Hopeless"

Welcome to another #8sunday post.  Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly bloghop you can visit and sign up at by clicking here wewriwa.com.

The idea is simple. Sign the list which is posted by 10:00 AM EST on Mondays.  Then post 8 sentences of your writing on your own blog so other writers can visit, read and comment, crit, encourage, and get to know you, and vice versa :-)  It's for beginners and published pros alike.

My #8sunday post for this week:

Returning to my WIP, ATNS, and making the selection for today's 8 sentences using the random scrolling method, I've landed fairly early in the story.

Rissa, the main character, has had a bad evening, that included a run in with Cuylrh.  She's misses her son back on Earth, and she's homesick.  She's walked away from camp and is now sitting beside a small lake. 

"Starlight danced, bobbing up and down on ripples as the cool, night breeze stirred the dark water. Goosebumps prickled Rissa’s arms and legs as she looked from the lake, up to the heavens at the blackness of forever.

The endless sky—it used to hold all the wonder, all the mystery and magic of existence… proof there was something more.  Yeah, there was always something beyond what the eye could see. And that had brought with it the simple knowledge that even if today was best left forgotten, something else was waiting, tomorrow. 

Until now.  Home was somewhere in the endless, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that to search the endless… was hopeless."

That's it.  What jumps out at you, good or bad. I'd love to hear it.  Thank you so much for visiting!

Visit the other "great eight" posters by clicking  HERE.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Spring: Can You Feel It Coming?

Humans are such funny creatures.  As far as we've evolved, we still sense the lengthening of daylight after the winter solstice. It's not just the longer days we sense, but perhaps even more, a change in the quality of light.  With the darkest days of the year behind us, we come out of our virtual caves where we've been holed up all winter.

Something innate, instinctive, some primitive part of our brain tells us that winter can't last forever, and the makings of its demise are already in motion. Perhaps, risking blasphemy, we are all Pagans at heart, emerging to worship the returning sun.

When I was eighteen, I wouldn't have noticed the subtle changes, would not have sensed the slight shifts. I hadn't learned to observe, to tune into the little notices that nature was posting all around my world. It took a rare sixty degree in February day to pretty much hit me over the head before I sensed that there was change on the horizon.

But, thirty plus years later, I'm discovering some glorious gifts that have come with age. One of which is how much more easily I recognize what that primitive part of my brain is telling me. Glorious, indeed, to pick up on the approach of spring, to grasp tiny cues that give hope to my winter-weary heart.

Things like feral cats-- rather than  hiding somewhere protected from the weather, in February come out and curl up in the  sunshine.

For the last week, the birds have been singing spring songs in the mornings.

The alder trees have pushed out their catkins, and I saw a newly emerging skunk cabbage in a swampy area along the community trail.

Tree buds have begun to swell, and the tops of maple trees are tinged pink with new growth.

And standing on the back porch, looking out over Rough Run hollow illuminated by a waxing moon, I shiver, but remain, knowing it's far too early to hope for spring peepers, but it's enough tonight to hear the sound of the creek rushing through the valley below. To know that the ice can no longer contain the late winter song of open water.

All things that in my youth would have gone unnoticed, unheralded, and unappreciated.  But, now? Well, here I am, blabbing to you, hoping that you'll start to take stock, or even think of something you noticed recently that whispered in a shout, "Spring is coming! Have you noticed!"

                         Pink tops of maples where new growth has begun.
                                            Skunk cabbage emerging.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Weekend writing Warriors February 17, 2013

 Week 3 "Let the Swordplay Begin"

Welcome to another #8sunday post.  This week returning to my WIP, ATNS, and making the selection for today's 8 sentences using the random scrolling method, I've landed fairly early in the story.  Our heroine,  Rissa (in her dream world), has just learned that she must learn how to fight with a sword.  Cuylrh gathered the entire group, the existing Guard members, along with Jia and Rissa, and made the announcement that Rissa would have to first learn how to fight, and then qualify for admission into the Kings' Guard by besting an opponent. At the same time, Rissa's new found friend and ally, Jia, has been offered the same deal, to best an opponent within the Guard to qualify for admission. Jia has fought with swords all of her life, and this is her opportunity to show she's as good as any man-- by becoming a King's Guard in the patriarchal and often misogynistic Rialtan Empire. Dhurstan is Cuylrh's best friend, a he-whoring troublemaker, arrogant, and despises Rissa-- along with Cuylrh's obvious affection for her.

This snippet is in Rissa's POV.

"Senseless and dumb, she looked down at her feet, at her 
sturdy shoes from Earth, from home, from a place with rules where no one lived and died by the sword. She’d only forced  her hiker-clad feet to take two steps through dust and ashes, away from the fire when Jia shouted behind her.   

Rissa turned and stared, still numb from the shock of impending swordplay she now knew she must endure.  Jia’s voice sang with confidence, and commanded with authority when she pulled her sword from its sheath and let loose words into the frighteningly still air, “Dhurstan of Rialt, I challenge you.”

The fight was loud and violent, a prolonged audible assault that lasted until Jia, with a spinning move, flung his sword out of his hand. Her advance was a fluid motion, part ballerina, part warrior as she planted her foot into his stomach sending him sprawling on his back. It all came to a stop where Dhurstan lay disarmed, humiliation painted across his face, with Jia’s  foot pressed against his chest and her sword tip biting at the underside of his chin."

That's it.  What jumps out at you, good or bad. I'd love to hear it.  Thank you so much for visiting!

Visit the other "great eight" posters by clicking  HERE. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 2/13/13

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors: "No longer on God's green earth "

 Weekend Writing Warriors: Week 2
Welcome to another #8sunday post.  This week returning to my WIP, ATNS, and making the selection for today's 8 sentences using the random scrolling method, I've landed very early in the story.  Our heroine, Marissa, is still unsure of her whereabouts, but has come to terms with the very real likelihood that she's been abducted.  She came to the aid of an injured man, (Cuylrh) unlike any she's ever seen, and they've been under attack by four-legged predators--also unlike anything she's ever seen. Time has passed, with no way to judge it other than being hungry, thirsty and so tired. And she's been dealing with her own fear-- and with their defense. In this scene, finally in a calm moment, she's considering the man beside her.

"He must be French… from the sound of his voice.

Funny how the mind meanders in the downtime of even the most bizarre situations.  She changed her mind; he must be German--identifying himself as Cuylrh dae Medoch, the last syllable pronounced like he was clearing his throat. Definitely a German, with the most striking gold eyes she could ever have imagined. 

Then again… why on God’s green earth would she ever have imagined a cinnamon-skinned, giant of a man, with gold eyes?  Oh yeah, and add that he spoke some French dialect of German.

An unsettling thought gnawed at her in spite of her reluctance to acknowledge it; maybe she wasn’t even on God’s green earth."

That's it.  What jumps out at you, good or bad. I'd love to hear it.

Visit the other "great eight" posters by clicking  HERE.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Weekend Writing Warriors Feb 3, 2013


Weekend writing warriors, #8sunday on Twitter, welcome to my first post under the new banner.

The rules are simple. Sign up at Weekend Writing Warriors .  A new linky list will be posted each week, and remains open to new signups until 11:59 p.m. each Saturday evening.   Then Post 8 sentences of your writing, making sure to link back to the www.wewriwa.com site.  Your 8 sentences should be posted by 9:00 a.m. EST on Sunday.   Then visit other writers on the list, and leave comments.  This works best on reciprocity-- when someone leaves a comment, try to do the same for them in return. And have fun :-)

Returning to my WIP, ATNS: 

Last week, on the final sixsunday post, we left off with the heroine, Rissa, now in custody of Daekartha, the high King of Rialt. She's been forcibly separated from his grandson, and is considered by reason of her skin and eye color, and origins from an unknown world called, "Earth", an enemy of the Rialtan Kingdom.  But Daekartha is neither reckless nor impatient, understanding that there is great value in subduing the enemy, then observing. This all takes place during the grand celebration of the Giver (god), and she has gone from forced attendance at a holy house (church) to a dinner and gathering following that service. Daekartha is parading her, making an example to all who would toy with him--including his grandson.

This is a blessing before a meal (much like making the sign of the cross) of which she's familiar because the old Guard, Abraxum, taught her.

Rissa's POV

"The man from the holy house—dressed in royal blue robes with white sashes, stood and mumbled, his multiple chins jiggling through more words that Rissa bet were full of hypocrisy.  Following the lead of those around her, she bowed her head. Another blessing?  She raised her head when the room went silent except for the rustle of motion.  Like everyone in attendance, she placed her clenched fist over her heart, then kissed and opened it as she raised it to the ceiling, peering through outstretched fingers.  Abraxum's act had been much purer as he’d reached toward the visible heavens.  The lump forming in her throat kept pace with hot tears of anger swelling in her eyes while the truth sunk in--heaven wasn't visible from here. In fact, it was probably unreachable from here, too, because she truly was trapped in hell."

That's it.  Thoughts, opinions, critiques, all much appreciated.  Please find other 8sunday participants by clicking  HERE  And thank you so much for visiting. :-)

What Makes The Boy Attractive?

February and writers. The month of love.  And here we are, all about hearts, roses, red, pink and white, and keen on love.  I'm there. I like a little romance in my stories.  I'd go so far to say that I'm not much into a story that doesn't include at least some romance.  Love...it does, cliche as it sounds, make the world go round.

So, as a writer, and always looking to deepen the well of experience and information from which I draw,  I find myself making observations about romance.  What makes people love each other, what makes a couple stay together, what makes them fall apart?  Fascinating.  The most fascinating to me--what are the laws of attraction that work on two people in the beginning?  The body language, the fine nuances and subtle gestures. I mean, what does someone do before a word is even spoken, that turns a head?   Seems there are a zillion different things for a zillion different romantics.

So, I watch, like today when we took Nattie, our five year old granddaughter, to the mall for her soft pretzel.  And, you can't really come right out and ask people, you know. None of this information comes easily. Well, most of the time it doesn't come easily, except today, after we got home from the mall.

Spurred by a little bird who told me, I asked  Nattie, "Do you have a boyfriend at preschool?"

She grinned and then shyly drew back while she said, "Yes. Carson."  Her blues eyes sparkled with devilment and magic.  

Ahhh...even little humans--when smitten behave like silly souls, while contemplating attraction.

I chuckled while my inner voice asked, "Five??? Five years old??"

I asked her, "What do you and a boyfriend do at preschool?"

As if I'd asked the silliest question ever, she replied, "Play. We play, Grammie."

"Oh. Well, that's a good thing to do. Do that as long as you can."

She continued working on glittering Valentines for her aunt, a whole bag full of them, and then she said in a voice that made me realize she was sharing a serious piece of information, "Julie and I were talking today, and you know what? Carson snaps."

"Carson does what?"

"He snaps. None of the other boys do it, but he does." Her expression had gone from sparkly-eyed magic to googley-eyed gushing.

 "Snaps," My fingers flews through the air while I snapped them, "Like this? He snaps his fingers?"

"Yes. He snaps."

It was a revelation to me. lol. The laws of attraction had spoken and the ability to "snap"  was now added to my well of possibilities.  Pretty interesting observation.  Snapping sent their hearts all aflutter.

Duke Ellington tells it best :-)

Yeah...I can see it.