Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Wives, by Margaret Forster...

I highly recommend this book for all romance writers. Why? Because the life stories told in its pages are true romances - not in the HEA sense, but the "true love" sense. One in particular, that of Mary Moffatt Livingstone (wife of he of "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" fame), touched me deeply. To most people she was an ugly, fat, squat woman who dressed poorly and was awkward in society, but to her husband, she was the woman he loved deeply, who was his mainstay, whether they were together or apart while he was off on his travels. Her premature death devastated him, as much for the loss of her company and love as his guilt over the circumstances.

Ms. Forster wrote about the changing nature of the role of wife, from the mid-19th to late 20th centuries, considering what exactly makes a "good wife"by interweaving the tales of several women who, depending on one's definition of "good" were both good and bad wives. I'm 2/3 of the way through the book now and am enjoying it immensely- the writing flows naturally and the adventures I've read so far are awe-inspiring.

Have you found inspiration for your writing in unusual places?


Currently Reading: Good Wives: Mary, Fanny, Jennie & Me 1845-2001

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Margaret Forster...

I've been glomming her books over the last few months. I started with Diary of an Ordinary Woman, followed by The Memory Box and then Lady's Maid. Today I started one of her non-fiction books, Good Wives: Mary, Fanny, Jennie & Me 1845-2001.

A British writer of fiction (contemporary and historical) and non-fiction, she has a keen sense of story, characterization and pacing. Her books pull me right in and keep me turning the pages. I was up till almost 2 am on Saturday finishing Lady's Maid, which fictionalizes the life of the woman who served as maid and companion to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, both before and after her marriage. I look forward to finding a copy of Forster's bio of EBB as well.

Her voice, no matter what genre she writes, is clear and captivating. Reading her prose is a real treat and I'm learning a lot as a result.

So if you're looking for a good book to read, check your local library or bookstore and see if any of hers are in available - I doubt you'll be sorry.

Have you made any interesting, glom-worthy author discoveries recently?


Currently Reading: Good Wives: Mary, Fannie, Jennie & Me 1845-2001 by Margaret Forster

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Juggling life and characters...

As most of you know, my life lately has been crazy busy. I'm still working on juggling everything. And now my characters have added yet another element to it all. I have three stories on the go right now, all in various stages. For so long my historical characters have generally won the battle for my attention, but lately my contemporary characters, Emma and Ian, have been dominating my thoughts. It's very strange - the drive to finish their story is now extremely strong. Whenever I have a spare moment I think about them, their problems and how they'll find their HEA.

Even writing in a modern voice was difficult for me at first, so I'm very confused as to why it's now becoming more natural. And why the historical is receeding a bit.

For those of you who write both historical and contemporary - do you have this issue? If so, how do you deal with it?

It's not that I mind writing for Emma and Ian, it's just I'm not used to living so much in this world when I write.

Any advice is welcome :)


Monday, May 18, 2009

Manuscript Makeover...

I recently borrowed this book by Elizabeth Lyon, via ILL and have now ordered a copy. A necessity these days - can't just buy reference books sight unseen.

BUT, wow, this book looks fantastic and extremely helpful, both to revise AND for writing an ms from the beginning. Its layout - here's the Table of Contents - is logical and makes it easy to zero in on the areas with which you need help. She discusses all the usual writing elements, but approaches things in a unique way.

In Voice, for instance, she introduces the technique of "riff-writing", in which you "...expand your imagination around a particular problem or need -- to lengthen a section, to add images, or to develop more characterization, for instance. You then take the riffs and fold them into your story." (p. 10) There follows a point by point guide to the technique, followed by an example.

One of the other features I really like is the series of checklists she includes in each section, in many cases including Advantages/Disadvantages of the writing element on which she's focussing.

It's not so much a book you read cover to cover, like some writing books, but one into which you can dip as you have need, though reading whole sections at a time is certainly easy enough as her style is conversational and absorbing.

I'm so glad my friend Beth at work was able to bring this book in through ILL for me. I'll put in a plug for those of you who have access to a public library to take advantage of this service. Here in BC we have a system where we can order items from any participating library in the province. You can search for and place a request for a book yourself OR call or visit your library to make the request. For those items not available through Outlook, the search can be expanded across Canada or even, from time to time, into the US.

Ok - I'll now return to the main point of this post. Manuscript Makeover is subtitled "Revision Techniques no Fiction Writer can Afford to Ignore" - and I believe it lives up to this tagline :)

Happy Victoria Day to all my Canadian friends!


Currently Reading: The Almost Archer Sisters by Lisa Gabriele
Link of the Day: Women's History Primary Source Documents