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Archive for April, 2014

Thomas Hardy Quotes from English writer, Thomas Hardy, who’s known for Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd, and The Mayor of Casterbridge, are often rather grim. I like this less dark Hardy quote: “Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change.”
How true! No matter how well I think I’m prepared for change, I’m always caught off-guard and somehow ill-prepared when it happens. But the only thing that never changes, is that all things change.

(As to where I got this photo and many more I’ll be using this year – I purchased a collection of author postcards many years ago. I used them as bookmarks! It was fascinating to look at the face of the writer as I read his or her work).

 

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I stumbled on an interesting post for new writers of science fiction. And to be honest, old writers of science fiction sometimes need to be reminded of these things, too!

Question: As a reader, do you agree with the points listed here?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Great news for all JRR Tolkien fans, after a 90-year wait, soon we’ll be able to read Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, plus promised additional material. Tolkien’s version of this myth-drenched classic will be published in a book edited by his son, Christopher. I for one, can’t wait!

A question for readers: What’s your favorite Tolkien book?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Harriet Beecher Stowe American writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who stirred up abolitionist feelings a decade before the Civil War with her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, offers insightful bits of wisdom. One of my favorites: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

I often wonder how many books go unpublished, how many inventions rust away, and how many miracles never happen because people give up too soon. An optimist at heart, I always hope the next envelope (or email) I open will contain an acceptance letter rather than a rejection slip.

 

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Thanks to author J.C. Elkin for stopping by and sharing the inspiration for her new book, World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom. Enjoy!

World Class Journey by J.C. Elkin

J.C. Elkin author photo “I teach English as a Second Language to adults, but I wrote this book to teach America about my students. In a land founded on the immigrant dream, they are often disparaged or misunderstood. World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom is a collection of character sketches inspired by the personal and professional travails of modern immigrants, telling their stories through narrative accentual verse.

It all began with an optimistic haiku about camaraderie across language barriers, a theme that continues through later stories, yet the individuals who most inspired me were facing bigger challenges than finding friendship:

Young, the mature, slow learner: (random words tumble from him like poetry magnets in heaps, and he has lost most of the verbs).

Fernan, the timid youth who must return home to bury his mother, causing me to reexamine my thoughts on illegal immigration.

Hala from Peshawar, who sacrificed her health to teach girls in substandard conditions in a culture that doesn’t value their education.

Alma, the janitor who wanted nothing more than a full-time job and Paz Maya, who works double shifts at McDonald’s…playing dodge ball with her health.

Fazilah, who slumps at her desk, black nylon hijab a puddle, only her hennaed fingers peeking out from the veil, whose Ramadan fast in August uncovered my own religious intolerance.

Verdad, who must learn to swear in order to keep up with her son’s budding language skills.

World Class Cover improved The language is not always politically correct, which has shocked some readers, but that’s the point. Immigrants are often painted in shocking stereotypes. If I never publish another word but change one thousand minds with this book, I will have accomplished my goal.

So far, the reaction has been positive. One WYPR listener who caught my interview on The Signal actually tracked down my phone number to thank me for writing the book, which she ordered for a friend. Mission accomplished.”

To learn more about J.C. Elkin visit: http://www.broadneckwritersworkshop.com/jane-c-elkin.html

World Class by J.C. Elkin is available from Apprentice House Publishers  as well as at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.

Thanks again to J.C. Elkin for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an inspired day! – Vonnie

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On Easter, most readers are thinking of Beatrix Potter’s rabbits, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, Peter, and their cousin Benjamin Bunny. Instead, I thought of CS Lewis today. Why? For starters, a writer friend sent me a video featuring a pair of beavers repairing their home during a warm spell.

It is still winter, and ice remains. A warm wind has caused a bit of a thaw, so the beavers are out and about. They ignore the photographer, and go about their beaver business. Which would be interesting enough, but about 2 minutes into the video – one of the beavers stands on his hind feet and carries a load of sticks.

This wild beaver suddenly reminded me of Mr. Beaver and his wife from CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many of you will recall the first encounter with Mr. Beaver from the movie – how he startles Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy by speaking, and seeming quite comfortable standing on 2 legs.

In the book, after staying at Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s home for a bit, the three children and the Beavers rush into the night and try to keep ahead of the White Queen and her forces who are in pursuit. As they trudge through the winter woods, Lucy becomes tired.

CS Lewis writes: “And she stopped looking at the dazzling brightness of the frozen river with all its waterfalls of ice and at the white masses of the tree-tops and the great glaring moon and the countless stars and could only watch the little short legs of Mr. Beaver going pad-pad-pad-pad through the snow in front of her as if they were never going to stop. Then the moon disappeared and the snow began to fall once more…”

But CS Lewis fans know that spring and Aslan are on their way. Most CS Lewis fans also know Aslan will sacrifice himself for Edmund’s bad behavior, be killed by the witch and her followers, then, be reborn.

And so, Easter is indeed a perfect time to not only think of  Beatrix Potter and her Tale of Peter Rabbit, but also to think of CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

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Robert Louis Stevenson Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote some of my favorite books: Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Even though he died in 1894, his work still resonates with readers. The Robert Louis Stevenson quote I’ll share first is often re-worked and painted on signs, embroidered on samplers, and printed on buttons: “That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.”

In my life, I try to live as well and kindly as possible, laugh (at no one’s expense) often, and love my family and friends. I also try to show love and kindness to all the creatures with whom I share the planet.

 

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Beth-Barany_360by270-cropped Author and workshop leader, Beth Barany passed the baton to me on this blog hop. At the same time, she passed the baton to James C. Wallace II And Dan O’Brien. We’re all to answer 4 questions about our writing process. And almost every writer likes to chat about their writing process, so this is an easy post to write.

My Writing Process:
1- What are you working on now? Actually, I have several projects in the works. I know that seems like it would be confusing, but I have a short attention span, so it helps me to move from project to project until I’m nearing the end of the first draft. That said, when I work on a second draft, I focus on one book at a time. I’m currently writing the follow-up book to The Enchanted Skean (a Compton Crook Award Finalist), a YA science fiction novel, a YA urban fantasy, and a non-fiction historical book. Plus, I’m working on illustrations for a picture book.
2- How does your work differ from others in this genre? I think coming from both an illustration and writing background, I “see” the world of my books as I write them. Also, having taught creative writing, especially poetry, for over a decade, I think I bring the poetic emphasis on the senses to my prose.
box of clovers 3- Why do you write what you do? I believe the world around us is filled with mystery, miracles, and magic, so it’s natural I’d include those things in my writing. I’ve been in love with myths, fables, fairy tales, and folklore since I was a child, so my writing and illustrations are filled with a sense of wonder. By the way, I found my first 4-leafed clover of 2014 today on a walk with my granddaughter – I’ve already slipped it inside the pages of a book. Once the clover is pressed flat and dried, I’ll add it to one of the jars of 4-leafed clovers I have on my shelves. Magic really is everywhere around us.
4- How does your writing process work? Something inspires me – a word, something I see or hear, an over-heard conversation, a “what if” thought about an ordinary moment. Then, I mull the idea over in my mind. Quite often, I dream parts of the story. By the time I actually begin writing, my fingers can’t keep up with my brain! Editing can be tiresome for me – but I know it’s necessary. I revise, polish, submit the manuscript to publishers, and repeat the process.

If I can wrangle a couple of writers into accepting the baton, I’ll post their bio and blog links here. Until then, keep on the look out for 4-leafed clovers! And here’s a question for you: Fellow readers (and writers), are you interested in a writer’s process?

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Busy today tidying up (though in truth I can only make a small dent in the tidying that needs doing). As I slide books back into their slots on my bookshelves, I noticed the great number of stories that have swords or blades in them.

My favorite swords are the lightsabers of the Jedi knights of Star War’s fame, King Arthur’s Excalibur, and the famed sword/s of The Lord of the Rings. There is always the debate whether Arthur had one or two swords. One pulled from the stone and a different blade given to him by the Lady of the Lake seems to indicate two different swords, but there are other takes on these mythical events.

As for The Lord of the Rings’ sword/s, I refer to Narsil, the blade broken into shards during battle. Isildur, son of the king, used the hilt-shard to slice the finger with the One Ring from the hand of Sauron. The Ring takes quite a journey, eventually ending up in the spindly hands of Golem, then in the pocket of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. From there, the Ring is placed in the care of Frodo, and finally is destroyed in the lava of Mount Doom. Now, back to the Shards of Narsil. These broken bits of sword, are re-formed into a new blade which is renamed, Anduril – The Flame of the West, and given to Aragorn to use. And yes, JRR Tolkien geek that I am, I didn’t need to research these names!

I found an interesting list of 15 Legendary Swords which not only includes my favorites, but a dozen more. By the way, I find the inclusion of William Wallace’s sword a novel idea. I wonder if it would have been on the list prior to Mel Gibson’s movie?

Skean copy In my fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, the blade mentioned in the title is a boot knife, though I do have Beck use a fighting blade, too. As I work on the sequel, I’m toying with the idea of introducing a magical sword — but I worry it’s a cliché’. What do you think?

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Creator of the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has dozens of marvelous quotes. I know I’ll pick another one to use in the future, but for now, I’ll share this often re-quoted tidbit from The Sign of Four: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

Star Trek fans and others will recognize this quote. And for writers who want to challenge their readers, this quote is something worth thinking about. As long as you give the clues, improbable out-comes often make for better stories.

 

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