Monday, July 30, 2012


So. Playlists. Have you got one for your manuscript? I always make one up for mine.

I've been looking for a good song for my main character in MIST OF KAVALA. I found good ones for the two secondary characters, but for some reason I couldn't pin one down for Taner, for the longest time. Was it because I didn't understand him yet? I'm not sure, but worry no more: I found it! The perfect song, and it's a Turkish one too. Double points!!!
So to explain what Emir has to do with all this perfection:

1) An "emir" is the old name for a prince, or similar head of state, in Turkish and in Arabic speaking countries. (Still in use. Example: the United Arab Emirates, where I used to live.) Emir geldi - is Turkish for "an order came down" from our superiors. And the order is that we need to pay attention to this new Turkish artist, Emir.

2) I've posted about Tarkan in the past. Modeled a character on him in BURNT AMBER even. (Lot's of people want to be like Tarkan, so that wasn't a stretch.) He is a very influential artist. I would even venture to say he is a king maker on the Turkish music scene. My evidence? He's turned his efforts from singing and writing, to writing and producing. Emir is one of Tarkan's sucesses. (Ha! Emir even plays on the word king. :D)

Tarkan is a co-producer on Emir's album, and lending lyrics to the new star, he cameos in the video clip for Ben Sen Olamam. His influence is so strong, many Tarkan officianados even question if Emir is Tarkan's protege or clone?

Funny they should mention clones... I'm working with a thread about them right now. Just read Aldous Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD too. Hmm.

And so I claim Tarkan/Emir's song, Ben Sen Olamam - I Can't Be You, as my inspiration for Taner. Fit's him like a glove, it does.

Here are the lyrics and my own (mediocre) translation:

Öyle diyorlar,                                           Like this, they say
Böyle diyorlar                                          Like that, they say

Şekile mekile takılıp üzüyorlar                Appearances, they stick on them, they sadden me
İnsana dünyayı dar ediyorlar                  They constrict a person's world

Yaftayı takıp sınıflandırıyorlar                They label and they classify
Eğriyi doğruyu bilen ya onlar                 Right or wrong, they are the ones who know
İnsanı kaderine küstürüyorlar                 They disturb a person's destiny

Kaçtım, kaçtım durdum                             I ran away, I kept running away
Kendime değil, hep kendimden                 Not to myself, always from myself
Ne zaman ki bana geri döndüm                When I came back to myself
Ümitle donandım yeniden                         With hope I returned again
Ben benden oldum yaşayınca                   I made myself, even as I lived
Onun bunun kitabına göre                       According to this or that rule
Ben yine beni bende buldum                    I found myself in me regardless
Sığınınca kalbime yeniden                       I embraced my heart again

Ben bundan böyle:                                   Me, after this:

Ne yasak tanırım ne kural tanırım            I acknowledge neither forbidden nor allowed
Ruhum bedenime dar, bunalırım              My soul is too tight in my body, I suffocate
Üstüme gelme. Bak. Kafa tutarım             Don't push me. Look. I will defy
Acımam, tozu dumana katarım                 I have no mercy, I throw dust on the flames
Ben sen olamam, olursam eğer                I can't be who you are, if I am

Kendimi kızgın ateşlere atarım                I will throw myself in angry flames
Uymam, sürüye uymaktansa                    I won't conform, if I follow the herd
Kendimi kurd'a yem yaparım                    I make myself food for a wolf

Ya sev seveceksen olduğum gibi             Love me, if you will love me the way I am
Ya da çıkar at kalbinden beni                 Or remove me, throw me out of your heart
Ne değiştirmeye çalış ne yargıla             Neither try to change me, nor judge me

Hangimiz kusursuz mükemmeliz ki         Which one of us is without flaws, perfect?
Bana tepeden bakıp da                            You look down from your hill upon me and
Kendini daha özel ayrıcalıklı sanma       Don't think yourself special, superior


Monday, July 23, 2012

Cow Pies

Cow pie castle walls
Research for my Hattusa book is going interesting places. Like cow pie castles.

"Bleh!" You say.

In the winter, when trees are few and far between, cow pies do the trick. They're a good fuel source for heating or for a cooking fire.

July is the time when Anatolian peasants are out molding the dung into squares, and creating the cow pie reserves that will get them through the winter. They stack them in seemingly decorative patterns, but the reason for the design is simple: cow pies need to dry. Different villages have different ways of stacking. Some make round towers, others create walls.

Just another neat detail I hope to incorporate in my book, when I get around to writing it.

In the meantime, I'm off to revise the Nemrut sci-fi some more.

Monday, July 16, 2012


I used this F word in a yahoo writing group and it caused an uproar. Apparently, I've stumbled upon something interesting and I should share.

Editor Cheryl Klein uses the term: Fermata.

It's a musical symbol she borrows to explain how to end a chapter, scene, short story, novel, or any piece of writing that doesn't use the cliffhanger. (I'm sure I don't need to explain that one.)

So what is it?

In terms of music, it means to hold the note.

Lot's of cute things floating around the internet with the phrase: I'm a fermata. Hold me. plastered all over them. Coffee mugs, onesies, t-shirts. Very clever.

There's a band named Fermata, a book titled FERMATA; it's a popular concept.

Fermata is nicknamed the bird's eye, but the history of the symbol goes back through the middle ages all the way to the Assyrian's design for a crown - as in a crowning moment.

If we take this symbol back to the realm of writing, it means we're ending with an idea that embodies the purpose of the piece, in way that resonates with the reader. They hold the note, if you will, because it carries with them after they finish the chapter. It makes them keep reading to find out what other truths your character will discover. And I'll bet lots of fermatas are e-reader highlights.

I also noticed that when a writer takes me 95% of the way there, ends without a good cliffhanger, and skips the fermata, I toss the proverbial yellow Volkswagen at them. I stop reading.

Granted, crafting the fermata is a tough job. I'm guilty of the 95% crime myself.
(See confession below.)

After learning about the fermata, I went back to my manuscript and looked at each scene. There was always logical progression, but nothing to tie the ideas together at the end. I was missing the opportunity for some serious interiority.

I'm revising.

Any thoughts you'd like to add about the fermata? I'm thinking somebody called this concept "The Good Tell", but I'm not sure where I read it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chelonia Mydas: Mersin's Green Sea Turtle

Chelonia Mydas via EVS Mersin
It's sea turtle nesting season!

My sister-in-law was enjoying the beach near  Mersin last week and she uploaded some nice photos (below). She even posted a link to the Mersin sea turtle protection organization, EVS Mersin, a volunteer-run part of the youth Third Eye Association of the Mediterranean (TEAM). (Thanks, Pascale!)

Kids come from all over Europe to help. Maybe another good excuse to send my boys over there AND get something for the ole college application? (Double Bonus!) Maybe next summer.

Meanwhile, I've posted about the Caretta Caretta of Dalyan, so it would be logical to think those are the ones I wrote into the BURNT AMBER scene at Kizkalesi.

Ha! They were, but the EVS Mersin site drew my attention to another species that makes it's home in the eastern Mediterranean - Chelonia Mydas, the green sea turtle. And now I'm not sure which kind I saw when I was there. Next time I'll have to stop a turtle and ask. (Or find an EVS Mersin volunteer!)

Sea Turtle Nest - Please, Let's Protect Them
Flipper tracks...

leading back to the sea. :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

On War & Independence

Washington Monument
This week, Americans celebrate Independence Day, marking the Declaration of Independence of July 4th, 1776. Not so long ago in the history of the world, I know, but a big deal for me and mine.

I'm part of the Daughters of the American Revolution. My qualifying ancestor, Edward Adams, fought in the Battle of Lexington. (One of the first battles - Lexington and Concord -"shot heard round the world" and such.) Grandmother said we're somehow cousins of the other more famous Adams family men, Samuel & John.

More recently, my grandfather fought in WWII, my dad monitored the radar on the Indochinese peninsula for the Air Force, and my brother was enlisted in the Navy.

Yup. We're patriots.

I'm laying this out there because I think I'm probably more like The Patriot myself. Reluctant.

I've got two teen sons of my own now, and I don't like to think of them ever participating in armed conflict that could be avoided by some other means. But, like the movie (based on the Charlotte, NC Revolutionary War area battles) life isn't so cut and dried.

As a writer, I read plenty of fiction dealing with independence. I don't disagree with the principle, but some of it really glamorizes the fight, so when I sat down to revise my action-adventure/overthrow-the-megalomaniac manuscript, it gave me pause. How to portray ALL of the costs? How to show training for war, actually being at war, and avoiding war?

I've got The Art of War by Sun Tzu for the training part, and The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli for the megalomaniac part, but what about the conflicted soldier?
First, I grabbed my son's copy of Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers. Then local author and  former Marine, Rye Barcott, was slated to speak at a Charlotte Mecklenburg Friends of the Library event.

His memoir It Happened on the Way to War- A Marine's Path to Peace touched on all of these topics. And what do you know? He really reminded me of one of my key characters - the one who fights the fight, and beats himself up about it too. (I wonder if that would be me?)

He planned to be a peacekeeper- even started up Carolina for Kibera to curb ethnic violence in an African slum. But then there was September 11, and he found himself chasing the opportunity to engage, craving what he called the "ecstasy of danger".

His book was an interesting stop on my quest for authenticity. I have to read for inspiration. Otherwise, my manuscript will turn into another episode of School House Rock in my head.

Do you have any other book recommendations? Movies?

Happy 4th!


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