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.


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