Sunday, March 18, 2012

Letters of Note - John Steinbeck

I've decided that before I say goodbye for a whole TWO WEEKS - I should leave you with something interesting to ponder.  A twitter pal of mine, @CarenKennedy, introduced me to a brilliant site called Letters of Note, and it's a site well worth checking out HERE

Below is a Letter written by the great John Steinbeck, and I hope you find it as entertaining and eye opening as I did.

When I return from my holidays, I will be engaged in 3 full weeks of edits, so I might drift in and out here, and read what Mr Steinbeck had to say on the whole process.

During the nine months of 1951 that saw him working on his novel, East of Eden, author John Steinbeck began each day of writing by penning, in his notebook, a brief letter to his editor and good friend, Pascal "Pat" Covici. Early-1952, with the book finished, Steinbeck wrote him a final letter — a dedication to Covici in which he spoke of the frustrations and insecurities faced by an author during such a process. It can be read below.

(Source: Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters; Image: John Steinbeck, via.)

New York

Dear Pat:

I have decided for this, my book, East of Eden, to write dedication, prologue, argument, apology, epilogue and perhaps epitaph all in one.

The dedication is to you with all the admiration and affection that have been distilled from our singularly blessed association of many years. This book is inscribed to you because you have been part of its birth and growth.

As you know, a prologue is written last but placed first to explain the book's shortcomings and to ask the reader to be kind. But a prologue is also a note of farewell from the writer to his book. For years the writer and his book have been together—friends or bitter enemies but very close as only love and fighting can accomplish.

Then suddenly the book is done. It is a kind of death. This is the requiem.

Miguel Cervantes invented the modem novel and with his Don Quixote set a mark high and bright. In his prologue, he said best what writers feel—the gladness and the terror.

"Idling reader," Cervantes wrote, "you may believe me when I tell you that I should have liked this book, which is the child of my brain, to be the fairest, the sprightliest and the cleverest that could be imagined, but I have not been able to contravene the law of nature which would have it that like begets like—"

And so it is with me, Pat. Although some times I have felt that I held fire in my hands and spread a page with shining—I have never lost the weight of clumsiness, of ignorance, of aching inability.

A book is like a man—clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun.

Well—then the book is done. It has no virtue any more. The writer wants to cry out—"Bring it back! Let me rewrite it or better—Let me burn it. Don't let it out in the unfriendly cold in that condition."

As you know better than most, Pat, the book does not go from writer to reader. It goes first to the lions—editors, publishers, critics, copy readers, sales department. It is kicked and slashed and gouged. And its bloodied father stands attorney.
The book is out of balance. The reader expects one thing and you give him something else. You have written two books and stuck them together. The reader will not understand.
No, sir. It goes together. I have written about one family and used stories about another family as—well, as counterpoint, as rest, as contrast in pace and color.
The reader won't understand. What you call counterpoint only slows the book.
It has to be slowed—else how would you know when it goes fast?
You have stopped the book and gone into discussions of God knows what.
Yes, I have. I don't know why. Just wanted to. Perhaps I was wrong.
The book's too long. Costs are up. We'll have to charge five dollars for it. People won't pay $5. They won't buy it.
My last book was short. You said then that people won't buy a short book.
The chronology is full of holes. The grammar has no relation to English. On page so-and-so you have a man look in the World Almanac for steamship rates. They aren't there. I checked. You've got Chinese New Year wrong. The characters aren't consistent. You describe Liza Hamilton one way and then have her act a different way.
You make Cathy too black. The reader won't believe her. You make Sam Hamilton too white. The reader won't believe him. No Irishman ever talked like that.
My grandfather did.
Who'll believe it?
No children ever talked like that.
(Losing temper as a refuge from despair)
God damn it. This is my book. I'll make the children talk any way I want. My book is about good and evil. Maybe the theme got into the execution. Do you want to publish it or not?
Let's see if we can't fix it up. It won't be much work. You want it to be good, don't you? For instance the ending. The reader won't understand it.
Do you?
Yes, but the reader won't.
My god, how you do dangle a participle. Turn to page so-and-so.

There you are, Pat. You came in with a box of glory and there you stand with an armful of damp garbage. And from this meeting a new character has emerged. He is called the Reader.
He is so stupid you can't trust him with an idea.
He is so clever he will catch you in the least error.
He will not buy short books.
He will not buy long books.
He is part moron, part genius and part ogre.
There is some doubt as to whether he can read.

Well, by God, Pat, he's just like me, no stranger at all. He'll take from my book what he can bring to it. The dull witted will get dullness and the brilliant may find things in my book I didn't know were there.

And just as he is like me, I hope my book is enough like him so that he may find in it interest and recognition and some beauty as one finds in a friend.

Cervantes ends his prologue with a lovely line. I want to use it, Pat, and then I will be done. He says to the reader:

"May God give you health—and may He be not unmindful of me, as well."

John Steinbeck

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wilde's Fire!

Krystal Wade

Anyone who is a regular visitor to this blog will know that I am a firm supporter of Twitter.  At first when I started, hands up, I thought it would be great way to get my profile out there.  After all, the reality of today's world interaction with social mediums means that as a writer, god damn it, you have to.  Without wanting to labour on it too much, I was pleasantly surprised at one aspect of Twitter which I had not expected - I met real, wonderful, talented people.  Well Krystal Wade is one of those people.

I love reading books, and when I visited Krystal's blog, the same thing happened to me as when I read a great book.  I was brought to a new and different world, this time in Virginia and Washington DC.  I got to know tons about her growing up with snakes, living in caravans in the middle of tornadoes, learning to adjust to loads of new and challenging environments.  In essence, I met the person, and one very young, determined, talented lady she is, and all that with raising a young family and climbing to put Christmas lights over rooftops of a very, very tall house! 

This week Krystal launched her first book in a trilogy called Wilde's Fire, so for sure I had to ask her a few questions about it!

Where did your idea for the story come from?

It all started with an image - picture a dense, lush, green forest. Now imagine a young girl, late teens/earlytwenties—ivory skin, dark brown hair, innocent as can be—reaching out to touch something shimmering in said forest. That image FORCED me to write, but it was not exactly what happened.

So tell us about your writing journey?

I couldn't get that image (of Kate) out of my mind. A constant nagging eventually drove me to the computer, and I pounded out the words. Then I realized I didn't know what I was doing, so I put the writing aside and read a ton of books. Finally, last year, it hit me: you can do this. So I did. And I haven't stopped. I didn't start out expecting to be published. I had a story to write. That was all.

But how long have you actually been writing?

Well, depends on how you look at it. In 3rd grade I realized I loved reading and writing. I wrote poems and short stories in spiral bound notebooks until my hands cramped. Then I set it all aside until five years ago, but I didn't know how/what to write. In January of 2011, I sat down and then COULDN'T stop.

Now that you have the bug, what next? 

I'm going to keep writing. Wilde's Fire is the first in a trilogy. I subbed Wilde's Army to my publisher just yesterday, and I'm supposed to be writing the second half of book three, but I swear, since publication, I have no time.

How connected are you to your principle character Kate?

When you read Wilde's Fire, you may notice Kate has a strong connection to nature. She takes in the sights and smells around her. This is because where she grew up, where she and her friends go camping, are all my favorite parts of Virginia. I daydream of one day owning a horse farm like her family does--or at least living near one.

For anyone who hasn't yet read Wilde's Fire, will you give us a little introduction?

Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out.

When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her.

Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her. What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made.

Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?

Krystal, how can people get a copy of Wilde's Fire?

You can pick up Wilde's Fire from https://www.nobleyoungadult.com/Books/402/Wilde's-Fire-Book-One-Darkness-Falls for $1.99.

They sell books in multiple formats, which you can choose from My Library after you check out.

Amazon and B&N will carry my novel, but not for another 7-10 days, and not for $1.99 either!

And finally, let's end with the novel's great tag line and trailer!

There is no pain in this death, only peace,knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most.”

Thanks Krystal - Wishing you great success!

Other Links:-

Krystal’s website: http://www.krystal-wade.com

New Crime Scene Book Club!

There has been an explosion in Irish Crime fiction recently, and it’s a phenomenon which is still gaining pace.

I attended a talk at NUI Maynooth a couple of weeks back discussing this very topic, and it would seem that not only has there been an upsurge in successful Irish Crime Writers/Writing, but the variety of prose within the genre has also been remarkable.

With Irish Crime Writing featuring so highly on the international scene, I got an idea which I hope you will be able to help me with.

Every month or so, I’m going to feature 6 crime novels as part of the New Crime Scene Book Club @writing.ie. They will be a mix of Irish and International writers, male & female, debut authors, and well established names, and also novels published only in digital format.

The idea is that you get a flavour of what’s happening within the Crime Scene Genre, and are given an opportunity to offer your feedback on the material currently available.

So why not pick just one title from the link below, read it, and then over the next month let me know what you think of it.

You can send your comments/reviews via the comment option at the Crime Scene site, or here at www.phillips-louise.com ,you can also email me at phillips.louisem0@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or even via Twitter @LouiseMPhillips -Sounds easy? Well most of the best things are!

The link to the main post @writing.ie Crime Scene Book Club, with books listed can be found HERE


Monday, March 12, 2012

Launch of Riptide

One of the great things about Twitter and blogging is all the fantastic people you can connect with.  I guess writing is a lonely path in many ways, after all the only way your words will get written is by going off on your own and writing them. 

Perhaps this is why writers who meet on line are so supportive of each other.  We have all travelled a similar path, have failed and failed better, and have kept on going because by and large we have no choice.  At some point in all our writing journeys, we realise that we are writers, and that writing is something we will hopefully always do.

Anyhow, one of the fantastic people I've been lucky enough to meet is a writer called Debbi Mack. This week she launches her novel Riptide and it sounds like a real page turner! I will post all Debbi's details below, so feel free to join the Riptide Launch Party on Facebook during the book launch week from March 12 to March 17, 2012, and/or comment with this post.
All details on the launch are posted here.

Author Bio:

A former attorney, Debbi Mack has also worked as a journalist, reference librarian, and freelance writer/researcher.

Debbi Mack has published two other novels in the Sam McRae mystery series: the New York Times ebook bestseller Identity Crisis (on Amazon UK) and the sequel Least Wanted (on Amazon UK). She’s also published Five Uneasy Pieces (on Amazon UK), a short story collection that includes her Derringer Award–nominated story “The Right to Remain Silent.”

Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies and publications, including Shaken: Stories for Japan (on Amazon UK), an anthology created to benefit Japanese tsunami relief efforts. She is currently working on a young adult novel, planning Sam’s next adventure, and generally mulling over other projects.

You can find her online at her website. She also has five blogs, including My Life on the Midlist,The Book Grrl and Random and Sundry Things. You can find her on Facebookand Twitter.
Plot summary:

Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae’s stay in Ocean City for the annual Maryland bar association convention turns into a busman's holiday when her best friend Jamila is arrested for a murder she didn’t commit. All signs point to a frame, but Jamila’s local counsel must plea bargain, placing a permanent stain on the ambitious attorney’s spotless record, unless Sam and the private investigator on the case find evidence to clear her.
Sam has her work cut out for her, given that the victim is the stepson of a local wealthy entrepreneur and poultry producer and no one will talk to her, including the investigator hired on the case. Meanwhile, Jamila herself appears to be holding out on Sam.
With the clock ticking down to the convention and preliminary hearing, Sam must uncover secrets, lies, and fraud to find the real killer. At what cost will that knowledge come for Sam?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Did You Ever Think about Writing for Television?

Do you regularly spot news items and think someone should make a TV series out of it? Do your fingers itch to write storylines for programmes you love? Yes? Well read on!

Although television is a visual medium, it’s still based on the written word and all programmes start out as a single idea first spelt out on paper. But because writers rarely make programmes, they must sell their ideas to the people that do. One way is to write a Treatment – essentially a written pitch summarising an idea into a few pages – with a dynamite script to complete the submission package.

Still interested?
In an introductory course run by Caren Kennedy, participants learn where the potential openings are in television and what writers must do in order to break in. By the end of the course, those who take advantage of all assignments will have created a polished Treatment showcasing their own idea for a series, complete with logline, synopsis, outlines for episodes and a query letter designed to grab the attention of programme makers.

Writing TV Treatments  online course - 8 weeks (4 modules) Caren Kennedy gives one-to-one mentoring and instruction on how to begin writing for television and develop ideas into storylines. Cost - €120.00

Caren Kennedy  works as an editor, proofreader, writing tutor and researcher.  She is the creator of a television series currently in pre-production with Warner Bros TV, co-author of Fake Alibis (BenBella Books, 2009), guest blogger for  www.writing.ie, and writing consultant with The Inkwell Group.

For more information visit: www.carenkennedywrites.com or send Caren an email direct to: carenkennedywrites@gmail.com


Caren Kennedy’s ‘Writing TV Treatments’ course is instructive, informative and extremely interesting.  Each module, delivered in easy-to-learn units, taught me how to flesh out my idea for a TV series, pump it up and transform it into a robust pitch.  But more than this, I learned how to summarise ideas for impact, research target markets, and stay motivated during the writing process. In short, this course is an excellent one which I would highly recommend to anyone wishing to further their writing career.

Michelle Moloney King:  www.TeacherMoloneyKing.com
This writing course is for anyone who wants to write. It is not limited to budding or established screenwriters. We covered ideas sourcing, research, visual writing skills, plot and character development, plus where and how to send submissions to television production companies. As I am a primary school teacher who uses lesson plans on a daily basis, nothing pleased me more than to find that Caren’s lessons were laid out in a comprehensive and detailed manner.  Her feedback was honest, succinct and got to the heart of any problems.  My writing and articulation of ideas has improved beyond imagining and I was amazed by this. Since the day I first started getting feedback from Caren, my blog has almost doubled its readership following. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...