Monday, May 20, 2013

An Homage to The Sounds of Istanbul

Şerbet: Dried fruit, tea, herbs, and/or spices in any combination imaginable, concentrated into a syrup, and ideally served over shaved ice from the mountains. Find some great examples like violet, pomegranate mint, or tamarind on Saudi Aramco World

Şerbet takes on a certain magic when it's served to you by a traditional street vendor, but to really understand what I mean, you'll have to watch the following kidlit-friendly clip.

From the clanking glasses of the Şerbetci,
to the gulls crying,
to the backgammon dice rolling across the boards...
Every sound is something a girl (little or big) can enjoy.

My favorite: the purring kitty hills.
Istanbul is full of cats.


Monday, May 13, 2013


In 1917, Cartier acquired his New York City location in a famous trade: $100 and a double string of pearls valued at one million dollars, in exchange for a 5th Avenue address.

Meanwhile, across the globe, Tokichi Nishikawa patented his first cultured pearls. When Nishikawa married the daughter of Mikimoto, the union changed the pearl industry forever. Cultured pearls, created for a fraction of the price, in a fraction of the time, were destined to control the market ... with nacre just barely skin deep.

In 1957, that one million dollar Cartier double strand sold at auction for only $151,000.

So I ask:

How much authenticity is enough? Is a quick eye test the only valid gauge? (Rhetorical question, I'm afraid.)

The same concept applied to writing:

Details can be layered as deep as an author pleases, but those details better look pretty enough on the surface. A reader is most interested in the sheen, after that, they want to keep on flipping those pages. The only authenticity an author can't skimp on is character.

Well ...that last statement is not entirely true for every genre. *ahem*

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Where I've been lately...

I wish my news was exciting.
It's a day job.
I'm back to the daily grind.
I'm determined to make this work/writing thing balance.
As soon as I get settled.
Outside of work, I spent the past couple of weeks:
1) Learning and networking in a dialogue writing workshop with my editor/friends, Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe of Two Editors and a Comma (Pics are on their page.)
 2) Browsing at the Tweet Up for the Charlotte Friends of the Library book sale (Look what I found! In German! I didn't buy them, but I did bring home two bags full of other good books.)

3) Distributing twenty copies of THE LIGHTNING THIEF for World Book Night


4) Watching my son play in two, weekend-long basketball tournaments.
(I might need a chiropractor soon. Those bleachers are unforgiving!)

Regular programming should resume shortly ...

I'm lining up some posts for the rest of the month.
I'm planning to finish edits for at least eight chapters of BA this month.

Hold me to it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Istanbulive5 - gripin

My latest musical crush is on the Turkish band, gripin.
(gripin is also a med to cure the flu.) They were recently here in the US with Istanbulive, which I missed AGAIN. I need to plan better next year.

gripin has some good songs, but my favorite right now is called They Found the Cure for Loneliness - Yalnızlığın Çaresini Bulmuşlar. I planned to share the lyrics, but wow, lots of idioms and I didn't have enough time to straighten the words out. The long and short: One lie missing, one lie extra - either way it doesn't matter - the world keeps turning.


Monday, April 8, 2013

ARC Giveaway: DEAD SILENCE by Kimberly Derting

In continuation of last week's chaos, my life hasn't settled into any routine. I'm also waiting for betas to get back to me, and just - bluh!

I also forgot to post the winner for the FEARLESS giveaway - and the official result of the drawing is Theresa Brown Milstein.

In return for your patience, here's another ARC giveaway, this one for DEAD SILENCE by Kimberly Derting. YA magical realism is the best way to describe it - with some bodies and suspenseful catch-the-bad guy scenes. I haven't even had the time to crack the spine on this one, but I've read others in this series, and they're good, in a creepy way.
Leave a comment with a valid way for me to reach you, and I'll post the winner next week. Good luck!

Dead Silence

A Body Finder Novel
On Sale: 4/16/2013
Formats: Hardcover | eBook

Sometimes the Dead Can't Be Silenced.
Violet thought she had made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers . . . until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team she works for have no intention of letting her go.

Violet will do whatever it takes to keep her loved ones safe—even if it means lying to her boyfriend, Jay. But when an echo calls to her, she stumbles upon a murder scene unlike anything she's ever witnessed. The murders are frenzied and twisted, and the killer left a disturbing calling card for all to see—a brimstone cross sketched in blood on the wall. And Violet finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a vicious madman with an army of devoted followers.

Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

Thanks to my indie bookseller, PARK ROAD BOOKS for providing this copy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Istanbul's Olympic Bid

The International Olympic Committee is in the Turkish news right now:

Istanbul; 27 March 2013: The IOC Evaluation Commission concluded its inspection of Istanbul today with a final press conference to over 200 international and Turkish media and declared that they had an "excellent impression" of the Istanbul 2020 bid.

In a press conference at the Four Seasons Bosphorus Hotel, Chairman of the IOC Evaluation Commission, Sir Craig Reedie, said:

"The IOC 2020 Evaluation Commission has been very pleased to spend time here in the extraordinary city of Istanbul. We have an excellent impression of the Bid Committee, and we have witnessed the strong support that the bid enjoys from the government, which was highlighted by the presence of President Gül this week. It has been a great pleasure to meet with so many Olympians, Paralympians, athletes and the Bid Committee - we have seen the enthusiasm for the Olympic Games that exists here in Istanbul."

source: Istanbul 2020 press release

I may be biased, but just clicking around the Istanbul2020 website, I can tell you there's an amazing construction plan for top notch venues and services. All that plus amazing historic sites?
You might want to book your plane tickets now.

Here's the promotional video for Istanbul.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dreams & Ice Cream

Maupin House
Last week a member of my SCBWI critique group sent out an email, wondering how to deal with the stress of submissions. I wrote her a (probably-too-long, from-the-heart) response.

Another member chimed in after me.

The head of our group, Carol Baldwin, asked for permission to share our group support experience, word for word, with the world.

Chasing Your Dream--With a Little Help from Your Writing Buddies and Ice Cream 

Please stop by and drop us a comment over on Carol's site. 
About Carol:
Dauntless leader of the Charlotte SCBWI critique group, at-large member of the Women's National Book Association Charlotte board, writing teacher, and great friend to all aspiring authors...
Since I was a child I have loved reading and have maintained a journal off and on for more than 30 years. My book, Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8 (Maupin House, 2007) reflects these twin passions of reading and writing. "If you want to write, read!"

Monday, March 25, 2013

ARC Giveaway - FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke

FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke
I love my local Indie book seller, Sally at Park Road Books.
She must think I'm kind of cool too because I'm always scoring gorgeous ARCs when I visit her. (Definitely a perk of being the Women's National Book Association Charlotte Membership Chair. You should join. We give away all sorts of adult books, some ARCs too.)

One time, Sally gave me two boxes full of beautiful ARCs for children in need. She supports the community that way. She also hosts WNBA-C meetings several times a year.

This week, Sally provided a copy of FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke. (Book Two of the Mirrorworld series - I also posted about Book One, RECKLESS )

Leave a comment with a way for me to reach you. I'll select one lucky winner and I'll announce the results next week.

Here are the details from the author website:


Can Love Save Jacob Reckless?

Jacob Reckless has only a few months left to live. He’s tried everything to shake the fairy curse that traded his life for his brother’s—legends like the All-Healing Apple, the Well of Eternal Youth, the blood of a northern djinn. And yet hope after hope is extinguished. After months of fruitless searching, Jacob journeys to Mirrorland one last time to deliver the bad news to Fox.

But there they hear of one last possibility. An item so legendary that not even Mirrorworlders believe it exists. A crossbow that could kill thousands, or heal one, when shot through the heart. To find it, Jacob is going to have to beat out a Goyl treasure hunter who is also searching for the prized crossbow— and somehow convince Fox to do whatever it takes to save him.
"Jacob's second adventure is told, and this time I had travelled so far beyond the mirror, that I almost didn't find back. I travelled with mermen, Bluebeards and princes, by train and ship, on horseback and by uncomfortable coaches. I looked into Fox' past and I felt Jacob's mortal fear. I met false witches, a blacksmith with a golden foot, a Goyl with onyx skin... and I miss all that so very much, so that I am now reading Russian fairy tales to continue my journey with book III. Who knows how many books this story will fill in the end. It keeps its secrets safe as the treasures that Jacob is searching for! I can't wait to disclose them all. Jacob is smiling. Needless to say! He knows what I am talking about..." (Cornelia about her book "Fearless")

On the nightstand next to her bed lay a white feather. Jacob had to smile. She’d kept one. Just like Chanute had also taught him: whatever you find for your clients, always make sure you keep some for yourself. Jacob ran his fingers over the soft down that covered the quill. Whatever was touched with that feather would immediately disappear and only reappear where the feather was put down. Chanute had transported a lot of treasure that way. But it didn’t always work. Some was lost along the way. “Don’t even try. That feather’s mine.” Fox’s eyes were still full of sleep and she flinched as she propped herself up on her injured arm. “Since when are you going treasure hunting without me?” I missed you – he wanted to add, but her glance was cool, like it always was when he’d been away too long. “It wasn’t hard,” she said. “And I didn’t know when you might be back.” Yes, she’d grown up, even if he could still see the girl. In his eyes she’d always been beautiful, even when she’d still been the scrawny little thing that didn’t want to pick the burrs from her hair. Beautiful, like anything that was wild and free. But now she wore the vixen’s beauty on her human skin, and she had turned into a woman without him really noticing it.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Price: $19.99 US/$21.99 CAN
Pages: 432
Physical Dimensions: 5-1/2" x 8-1/4"
ISBN-13: 9780316056106
On Sale Date: 04/02/2013

Cornelia Funke is Germany's bestselling children's author after J. K. Rowling and R. L. Stine. In the fall of 2002, she made her brilliant debut in the English-language market with the release of the New York Times bestseller The Thief Lord. She is also the author of an acclaimed YA fantasy trilogy that includes Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Istanbul Modern

I'm in the middle of a transition right now, so instead of my usual research, how about a clip about modern Istanbul? The short feature includes hip spots like Kanyon Mall, the Istanbul Modern museum, and gorgeous rootop views.


Monday, March 11, 2013

In Search of Comic Relief

My manuscript, MIST OF KAVALA seems to be harboring a  village idiot.
But don't we all need a little levity?

The comic relief can tell truths where another character would pay dearly, and when he says something particularly profound, the foreshadow sends shivers through us. We swallow the bitterness and ask for more because every statement is mixed with babble and fun.

Alas! The more we love the idiot, the more he becomes a valuable tool for the writer to pull out from under us. Comic relief, aka, expendable.

I'm going to make a case here, with popular Turkish television.

You know how I've been watching my soap, Kuzey Guney?
(spoiler alert)

Enter: Ali Guntan

Ali is all fun and jokes, and more dear to Kuzey than a brother.
In the season two finale, Ali takes a bullet, and it's pretty much Kuzey's fault.
I swear I used up a whole box of tissues from all the crying.

Says me: A curse on both your houses!

Well, that would be Mercutio's line, really.
And doesn't everybody want to play Mercutio?

Obviously, Ali was not the equivalent of Mercutio, but he played the same role.

Without Ali, the writers had to come up with another comic relief - Yunus, a particulary talkative taxi driver. His character doesn't carry the same weight, but he's still useful to the audience for a laugh, and to connect some important dots.

There are some good writers over there at Ay Yapim, I tell you.

Another, less useful example of comic relief is part of my other favorite show, Muhteşem Yüzyıl. In the murderous harem of Hürrem Sultan, eunuchs Gul Aga, Sumbul Aga, and Kiraz Aga provide respite from the drama - a sort of palate cleanser, if you will. The source of clever phrases and comic actions, these guys aren't killed off, but they're frequently sent away.

Now I doubt my village idiot will be as masterful as Mercutio, but my gosh, my characters are tiring me out! Anti-heros, village idiots...  At this rate, it feels like I'll never finish this story.

And so I end with this quote from English poet John Dryden:

"Shakespeare show'd the best of his skill in his Mercutio, and he said himself, that he was forced to kill him in the third Act, to prevent being killed by him."

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Tower and Babble

Kasr-ı Adalet
Call the city Edirne, Odrin, Edrêne, Edrene, Jedrene,  Hadrianopolis, or the original, Uskadama. Whichever you prefer, I'm calling it torture because it's the setting for chapter fifteen of my manuscript, BURNT AMBER, and it's killing me.

I have the opportunity to introduce some really interesting information about Edirne, but a dearth of information on one front is preventing me from getting the details right. A plethora of information on another front is just confusing me.

Situated at the border of Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey, the city has been home to many different peoples and suffered sixteen different seiges. I can only highlight one angle in my story.

Or I could keep it thin, and skim over the specifics of the others, but I'm itching to toss in some fantastic, fantabulous stuff - that fits in the djinn world I'm building.

As far as culture goes, the annual oil wrestling competition at Kırkpınar, known as yağlı güreş, has the makings of a great detail. The Turkish national sport has myth behind it, which I gravitate toward naturally. Still, not EXACTLY what I'm looking for...

The Romani festival of Kakava is interesting too. Jumping over hot coals, and match-making seem more along the lines of YA interest. Plus I do have the Romani element in BA already. I'm thinking this is the right festival to use. More research required. Problem: The Romani are secretive.

The other problem is the date. Kakava is in May, and my mc visits in August. But then, an agent once told me not to set a story in the summer, because it's harder to sell. Maybe I should go back and rework the dates.

On the setting front, I'm researching the Ottoman palace footprint, which is not so easy when only ruins remain. That's the Tower of Justice up there on the right, which is too similar to the one at Topkapi, so I can't really use it.

Ah! So many choices, I can't even outline them for you here. Maybe I'll try again in a couple of weeks, when I wrap my head around my sources and the seven syllable Turkish words that I'm attempting to translate.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Off The Page & Unplugged

Josh Adams, Lisa Williams Kline and Betsey Thorpe at
the Women's National Book Association
Some days I'm social media savvy, because every writer should network online. Many days I'm in my writer's cave, at the keyboard, because I live on the printed page. But my best days are spent in the company of my bibliophile friends - in real life.

So last Tuesday, I attended the Women's National Book Association joint meeting with Charlotte Writers’ Club, From Book Idea to the Bookshelf: The Process and Business of Publishing. 

The event drew a crowd of over 150 writers. Disclaimer. - Though I'm the WNBA Charlotte membership chair, the crowd was there to hear from the distinguished panel:

Kelly Bowen, Publicist at Algonquin Books
Josh Adams, Agent at Adams Literary
Betsy Thorpe, Editor at Betsy Thorpe Literary Services
Sally Brewster, Bookseller at Park Road Books
Amanda Phillips , MarComm Manager at Baker & Taylor, book wholesaler
Lisa Williams Kline, author with releases from Zondervan, Delacorte, and Cricket

So. Lots of great advice. Lots.

Kelly Bowen shared a publicity story about Algonquin release WEST OF HERE by Jonathan Evison.

at IndieBound
Since the story is set on the Pacific coast, WEST OF HERE got an interesting introduction to the book buyers' world. A nifty printed map, historic-style photo postcards, and a galley were shipped off in one of those wooden boxes that fishermen use for smoked salmon. You know the kind - wood with a cover that slides out. The clever part of the launch was the salmon company label on the top.


Some recipients put the box straight in the fridge. Word got out a few days later and the galleys were rescued from cold storage.

Reminder: Writers should NOT come up with cute ideas like that to catch an agent's attention.

Josh Adams recommends that writers:

1) Write like crazy.
2) Read like crazy.
3) Put stuff out there and query.
4) Put themselves out there and network- preferably in real life.

He also mentioned that the odds of finding an agent are not in our favor.

For example, the statistics at Adams Literary are something like this:
1/1,000 if you cold query
1/100 if you meet Josh, Tracey, or Quinlan at an event
1/20 if you are referred through an industry contact

Don't like your odds? Do something to change them. Attend conferences, workshops, etc.
Just don't stalk. Or send creepy gifts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


My critique partner is at it again with her new YA contemporary release. Check it out!

A companion to The Truth About Faking (link) (not a sequel; the books can be read out of order), The Truth About Letting Go (link) takes readers back to Shadow Falls, or more specifically Shadow Creek, with Ashley Lockett as she learns about friendship, love, and letting go.

Get me
The Truth About Letting Go (link) by Leigh Talbert Moore

Ashley wants to smash everything in her once-perfect life. Charlotte wants to walk in Ashley's seemingly charmed shoes. Colt wants to turn Smalltown USA on its ear--with Ashley at his side. Jordan wants to follow his heart--but Ashley is the one sacrifice he never expected to make. Up until now, Ashley Lockett has followed the rules. She's always done the right thing, played it safe, gone to church. And then her ideal life is shattered when her dad dies suddenly. Now she's miserable and furious, and she decides to do everything opposite of how she lived before. She rejects safety, rules, faith, and then she meets Jordan. Jordan has big dreams, he's had a crush on Ashley for years, he's a great kisser... but he's also safe. Enter Colt. He is not safe, and he's more than willing to help Ashley follow her plans.

Get it today on Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iTunes * Kobo Add it on Goodreads.


I feel Colt laugh, and he looks down into my face. That’s when he seems to realize what I’ve been acutely aware of for the last several minutes—our bodies are pressed together. “It’s awesome, yeah?” he says. “Adrenaline rush.” “Yeah,” I breathe. “I guess.” I’m not sure if he’s going to kiss me until he does. His mouth covers mine, and energy mixes with the alcohol flooding my body. Our tongues slide together, and I grip his shirt so I don’t collapse.  Every single bit of this is wrong, and there’s no way I’m stopping it. It’s back, that good feeling. The sadness has been pushed out again, and in its place is this rush, this rush of adrenaline like Colt said.  He pulls back and smiles at me. “We’re going to start dating. Now. You’re my partner in crime.”

About the Author:
Leigh Talbert Moore is a wife and mom by day, a writer by day, a reader by day, a former journalist and editor, a chocoholic, a caffeine addict, a lover of YA and new adult romance (really any great love story), a beach bum, and occasionally she sleeps. -The Truth About Faking is her debut young adult romance (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo) -Rouge is her first New Adult romantic suspense novel (on Amazon). Leigh loves hearing from readers; stop by and say hello! Blog * Facebook * Amazon Author page * Goodreads * Twitter * Tumblr

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Karacabey Horse

My story needs a new horse. Doesn't matter what color, but I think black would be nice. I always loved Black Beauty.

Ottomans loved their horses too. Since the empire stretched into Arabia, Anatolian horses were cross bred with Arabians at will. New breeds were made. The one that eventually became known as Karacabey was the most important - sort of the goldendoodles of their day. Everybody wanted one. Turkey even gifted the the Queen of England with a Karacabey once.

But then...  Then.

People moved on. People wanted thoroughbreds and European jumpers, and so the Turkish government sold the last of the documented Karacabey breeding stock. Years later, they realized their mistake, too late. The horses had been cross-bred until the Karacabey line was lost. Extinct.

If I could time travel back to 1980, I'd buy all 3,000 of the horses auctioned off that day.
Couldn't have cost much. The USD-TL exchange rate was crazy low.
Who cared about a stable closing way deep in the Bursa province anyway?

I'd like to imagine a herd of Karacabey somewhere out in the fields near the Marmara sea. Roan, chestnut, bay, gray, and black. Maybe some farmer has a barn full hidden in plain sight, and some day they'll be discovered, like a priceless Van Gogh.

The government has since reestablished the Karacabey stables as a thoroughbred stud farm. It's impressive with:

1,235 acres
790 stalls,
1 hospital, plus other veterinary facilities
250-person staff including
118 grooms,
10 veterinarians &
11 veterinary assistants

The most famous horse bred at the barn since the reopening is bay stallion, Sabırlı - translation: Patient One (April 9, 2001). Sired by Kentucky Derby winner, Strike the Gold, Sabırlı has a pretty nice record of his own. With 51 starts, 26 wins, 10 places, and 8 third place titles, all totaling about $3 million in winnings, he's a top stud at Karacabey.

Watch Sabırlı win at Dubai in the clip below:

Karacabey Stables Photo gallery

Monday, February 11, 2013


HYSTERIA by Megan Miranda
Last week, I went to the book launch for HYSTERIA by local author, Megan Miranda.

I waited patiently in line with my critique partner, watching the stack of books dwindle, hoping there would be enough. (Note to self: buy the book as soon as you walk in the store next time.)

Beth Revis, author of the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series, was is line behind me, being her sweet self. (I've noticed the YA authors in North Carolina look out for each other, and it's just one more reason I want to join the ranks.)

It was so nice to see the many supportive fans, friends and family of author- Megan's dad beaming over her as she signed book after book. Juxtaposition at it's finest, I tell you, because I have no idea where a girl like Megan gets such creepy ideas. No idea.



Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

Part of the excerpt from the back cover:

   "You're sending me to Monroe," I said. I phrased it like an accusation, but it still came out sounding like a question. This wasn't the first time Dad had tried to send me to Monroe.
   "Over my dead body." Mom had said back then.
   Apparently, two years ago, my mother had lied. Apparently, any dead body would do.

Read the first chapter here.

About Megan Miranda:

Megan graduated with a degree in Biology from MIT and spent her post-college years working in biotech and, later, teaching high school Science. She now lives in North Carolina with her family. FRACTURE is her first novel.

Megan also belongs to the Women's National Book Association, Charlotte Chapter, where I'm the membership chair - remember?

If you missed the HYSTERIA launch, Megan will be at the WNBA-C “Meet the Authors” event on

Monday, March 11, 7 – 9 PM
Park Road Books, Park Road Shopping Center
4139 Park Road, Charlotte 28209

Saturday, February 2, 2013

DUMAN & Anatolian Rock

Duman photo via Hurriyet Daily News
I wanted to post about DUMAN because they were at IstanbuLive in NY, but now I have double the reason:

My New Adult Turkish soap, Kuzey Guney had a scene with Duman song - Ruyanda Gorsen Inanma.

I used up half a box of tissues on that scene, partially because of the song. (I used the other half of the box on the next scene, when the girl came to find/save Kuzey.)

Now I'm compelled to post something.

A little history:
DUMAN - the direct translation of the word is smoke, but the name comes from one of their titles: Halimiz Duman. The phrase is a Turkish idiom meaning “our situation is dire". So DUMAN means dire as well as smoke.

As a writer, I <3 double meanings. Don't you? 

Music by DUMAN is also double edged. It falls into the weird but satisfying category known as Anatolian rock. The style mixes up rock and grunge with a type of Turkish folk music called the türkü.

Ruyanda Gorsen Inanma is a good example of DUMAN's distinctive sound. The base is a melancholy türkü, but instead of the saz (lyre), there's an electric guitar. 

Lyrics from DUMAN, and my own translation of Ruyanda Gorsen Inanma.
Note: This song is poetic and chock full of idioms. I chose my understanding over direct translation.

arkadas sen bu degilsin                       My friend you aren't this (ref:sad state)
gorunus sadece giysin                         Appearance is only a garment
arkadas niye gucendin?                      My friend why did you let them break you?
alistim, karistim ben sana                   I got used to you, I got mixed up with you
ruyanda gorsen inanma                      If you see this (ref:sad state) in your dreams don't believe it

arkadas sen bu degildin                      My friend this wasn’t you
bilinen sadece ismin                            The incident was only what you named it
arkadas niye degistin?                        My friend why have you changed?
alistim ay ay ay ay ay                          I got used to you
karistim ben sana                                I got mixed up with you
ruyanda gorsen inanma                      If you see this in your dreams don’t believe it

arkadas sen bu degilsin ey ey ey         My friend you aren’t this
yasayan sadece fikrin ey ey ey            What you experience is only your idea
arkadas niye gucendin?ey ey ey          My friend why did you let them break you?
alistim vay                                           I got used to you
karistim ben sana                                I got mixed up with you
ruyanda gorsen inanma                      If you see this in your dreams don’t believe

sana boynumuzu egeriz sanma           Don’t think we’ll surrender to you (ref:enemy)
hakkimizi gelir aliriz zorla                 We will come claim our right forcefully
saklayacak yuzum yok yok                  I won't hide myself away no no
ruyanda gorsen inanma                      If you see this in your dreams don’t believe it
ruyanda gorsen inanma                      If you see this in your dreams don’t believe it
ruyanda gorsen inanma                      If you see this in your dreams don’t believe it

Scene from Kuzey Guney with actor, Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ:

Speaking of the saz - Kivanc sings a türkü and plays the saz some other episodes.
I'm saving my thoughts on that for next time. ;)

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Opportunity Cost of a Rusty Nail

Rusty Nail
 That rusty nail may look useless, but it's a helpful reminder of opportunity cost - also known to many writers as the Stephen King method of rejection management.

Every once in a while, I check on my virtual stack of rejections. It makes me want to hurl. But there's reason to conquer the fear. My stories need readers or they're dead on the page.

Then I take the next step and submit my work.
It's hard. So hard, I think I'll go through the process in second person. This way anyone can feel the sting, and I'll create some distance for the sake of (less painful) objectivity.

1. Research. Fall for an uber agent (who shall remain anonymous) because her bio looks sooo perfect online. Her blog? Genius. And she reps stories like yours.

2. Imagine a couple of top shelf editors who might fight over your story. (Martha Mihalik? Mallory Kass?) The phrases good deal and sold at auction haunt you.

3. Dream in deckle-edged pages, create a luscious cover. (Who are we kidding? You did that when you came up with the title.) Even go so far as to think up who might star in the screenplay. (Blame the blogger friends for THAT idea.)

4. Cry. Everything comes crashing down with a trite rejection letter. Heck. Even helpful rejections are painful to read. The rejection on a full? Bad. The rejection on a revision? Prefer not to go there.

5. Begin to understand Stephen King and his attic collection of rejections. (Too bad you can't tack yours up with a rusty nail. Email is slippery that way.)

6. Come to the concept of utility. Remember the pain? Ask an author if it ever ends. Learn: when you get numb to the pain, you've stopped growing. (see also - a thousand other cliches about pain.)

7. Dig deeper. With every rejection, challenge yourself to do better. Find a good workshop, interview a character, tweak some pages. Maybe even start a whole new story.

8. Return to step number one.

The process is so painful, I often stop doing it altogether and hide myself away in revisions instead. Yet each time I go through the motions of submission, my writing becomes a little bit stronger.

I'm finally at the stage where an author (who critiqued a recent first chapter) admired my sentences.  I'm ecstatic because- after the plot looks good, and the characters are coming together -the sentences are what makes my writing mine. It's my voice. (Someone likes my VOICE!)

I just have to get up enough confidence to submit the stuff. And find an agent who likes my voice too. It might take me two more years, or ten, but this year I'm getting out of my own way. Here I go.

Stubbed my toe. ;)

The 2013 Plan:
BURNT AMBER: Five submissions out at a time, until I run out of agents/publishers.
MIST OF KAVALA: Two chapter revisions per week. Completion date: May

Don't know this method? Read Stephen King's memoir, On Writing,  for some great perspective on a writer's life, and more on how to manage rejections with a nail in the attic.

Monday, January 21, 2013

When pudding isn't what it seems...

Here's a trick a lot of Turks play on visitors:

What's in that pudding on the right?

Answer: Milk, cinnamon, sugar, rice. Maybe some vanilla.



Bet you'd NEVER guess chicken.

Chicken? Huh.

Yup. Chicken breast, pounded into filaments, and added to the pudding, appropriately named tavuk göğsü (chicken breast). The result is something like the blancmange you might know from medieval historicals.

While chicken is an odd addition to pudding, I actually like this dessert, as long as they don't add any other oddities. Cooks in the east tend to flavor their puddings a bit differently. Makes sense, since vanilla and chocolate are new world flavors.

So. Old world flavors:

Mastica  - sap from the pistacia lentiscus tree - bleh. I pretty much hate this one. Reminds me of eating the resin for my violin's bowstrings. Or maybe Pine Sol. Some people love it, and my husband is one of them.

Rose water- basically, perfumey water- bleh. Take grandma's eau de toilet, remove the alcohol. Now add it to your pudding. Even my husband stays away from this one. Rose petal jam? That I'll eat.

Orange blossom water - the same thing as rose water, but orange blossom flavored. This is a little bit better than the other two flavors. With enough sugar, I can MAYBE pretend it's orange blossom honey. Sometimes cooks will toss a couple leaves of an orange or lemon tree to flavor a pudding .

Then there are spices like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamon (one of my faves). Even saffron (flower stamens- is it an herb or a spice?) can be used in pudding and turn out tasty. Coffee is another good one, but usually found in more western style desserts.

Chocolate? Vanilla? Many Turks make chocolate rice pudding, add vanilla to their tavuk göğsü, etc. I can even handle a tiny touch of the mastic, if I add some vanilla too. 

Monday, January 14, 2013



I've found these three important manuscript components, once broken, can never be fully restored. But I'm a gardener, and I always try to fix broken. I know three ways, in fact.

1) Grafting

If a plant takes a long time to grow from seed, graft a branch onto more established, ordinary rootstock. Lots of fruit growers use this method, and every Japanese maple I own is a graft.

Applied to writing, a graft might be a chapter which didn't work in one place, repositioned in another. I find this a messy solution. There's usually a big ole knot where the graft is, and it can't be smoothed out. Plus, if my chapter can move, it must not be a strong part of the story arc. Best to cut it and move on, I say. A graft CAN work for a smaller section like a particular bit of exposition.

2) Pruning

If a plant is withering or blighted, cut the whole thing back to the root. Severe, but sometimes necessary. New growth is always stronger, and the established root means it will fill out quicker. Note: Works best on perennials and some shrubs.

In my writing, I only have the heart to apply this method to an early draft of a manuscript. I'll go back to the query, adjust, and then draft again.

3) Cuttings

Horticulturists use this method to make more of something they value, without diluting the genes through pollination. A tag reading "asexual reproduction prohibited" probably means the plant you're buying was grown from a cutting. Things like boxwood and hydrangeas do well with this method. I also use this method when voles get at the roots of something I love.

An example of cuttings used in writing: companion novels. Take a character from one story, plant her on a blank page, and spin a whole new story. I haven't had the chance to try this yet, but I've got an idea floating around for a secondary character, involving Hittite castles and terror birds. It works in my head anyway.

The literary equivalent of a vole?


Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New Favorite

For the past year, I got my historical fiction fix with Muhteşem Yüzyıl every Wednesday night, as soon as the newest episode hit the internet. I have Otttomania (Ottoman mania), like the people in 26+ countries who get it via satellite.

But it's a new year, so I went looking for a new distraction.

Scratch that - Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ (top right) was an ongoing distraction obsession - for many, many ladies in the world. I went looking for his latest series, Kuzey Guney. Unfortunately, that series was scheduled for Wednesday nights too, so I'd misssed a whole season. :(

No problem. Every episode was up on YouTube.

Since most people don't speak Turkish, I'll give you the set up from Episode 1:

Kıvanç plays Kuzey (translation=north). He is just getting out of prison, but we don't know why. He's impulsive and reckless, so we assume he did something bad, but we immediately start to question that assumption. Kuzey wants to join the military to become an officer. He loves Cemre (translation=ember), a girl from the neighborhood.

Guney (translation=south) is Kuzey's older brother. Studious and steadfast, he's always cleaning up Kuzey's messes. Guney also loves Cemre.

It all comes together in the flashback:
Kuzey was devastated when he found Cemre kissing his brother.
Kuzey decided to go out for the night, but his father stopped him. Domestic violence ensued, in which his father struck his mother. Kuzey - a tall, strong young man (190, or 6'2"+)- decked his father, and then ran off to get wasted.

Guney fetched Kuzey, and responsibly took possession of the the keys to drive them home. BUT on the way, Guney and Kuzey argued. Guney hit and killed a pedestrian.
They fled the scene.
The parents were distraught. They believed Guney - their golden son- was ruined. They blamed Kuzey.

When the police arrived, Kuzey stepped forward and accepted responsibility for the accident, and went to prison for four years.

One more layer -

In prison, Kuzey was stabbed, and subsequently had an operation which disqualified him from military service.

He lost Cemre. He lost his dream. He lost everything. And he blames Guney.

So there you have it. The double talk, the harsh family drama, the gorgeous Istanbul sites, and of course, Kıvanç - all come together and make it irrestistable. I do have one note, however insignificant: If Kıvanç kept his shirt on, I might be able to concentrate on the scene a little better. But, well, I guess those scenes are OK the way they are... Sigh.


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