Saturday, September 28, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
  
Join us as we spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving them from the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.

save-a-word-saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>


The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Be a hero by using the words in your everyday life--that is how they will really be saved!  Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:  masks.  

Our worthy word: 

Antipodes, noun.
those who dwell directly opposite to each other on the globe, so that the soles of their feet are as it were planted against each other; esp. those who occupy this position in regard to us  

And our sentences:  

      Half a world away.  She thought about him, miles and miles and miles upon miles below the little stone walk she stood on.  She twirled, looking down at her yellow shoes, and got dizzy thinking about their footsteps mirroring each other, antipodes in a world where the mystery of who might be on the other side had long been dissolved.
      But it was still a mystery to her.  She wondered if he ever wore his smile as a mask, or if that was only the way of things on her side of the world. 



~~

And, to lighten things up a bit, next week's them is . . . bacon
 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Care for a Marshmallow? (Delayed Gratification)

Before you read any further, I suggest you grab some marshmallows to eat while we talk about this.

Don't have any marshmallows?  That is sad.  But it turns out I have enough for both of us.

*eats marshmallow*

Yum.

You may be wondering--why are we eating marshmallows?  Well.  Have you ever heard of the "marshmallow test"?  Originally conducted at Stanford by somebody blah blah please google it if you're really interested.  The gist is this:  some people wanted to test young children for the ability to make future-oriented decisions that would involve an understanding of delayed gratification.

This is how it worked:

Researchers sat a kid at a table that had a single marshmallow on it.  The original researchers hid behind a two-way mirror (creepy much?).

They told the kid that they were going to leave, and that he was welcome to eat the marshmallow while they were gone, but if they came back and he hadn't eaten it, he would get another one.

One now, or two later.  Of course some kids waited and some didn't.

 ~~~

I was talking to my friend about this the other day, and we both agreed that you could have done this to our young selves over and over again, and we probably would never have eaten the marshmallow.

Then she looked at me and said--and this is a friend of mine who's not a writer herself--"I'm pretty sure writing for you is like one big exercise in delayed gratification."


Were truer words ever spoken?

I cannot speak for the process of actually getting a book published, but when I look at the part of the process I've come to know quite well--the insanely steep learning curve of the pre-published writer--my friend was absolutely right.

You could send that manuscript off as it is.  Or you could do one more revision, or rewrite, or overhaul...and then send off an even better manuscript.  Obviously, you have to send your work out eventually.  But when it takes so much hard work and practice to get good enough, I think it's easier--yes, it's tempting--to send something out before it's ready.

That said, would you care for a marshmallow? 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
  
Join us as we spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving them from the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.

save-a-word-saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>


The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Be a hero by using the words in your everyday life--that is how they will really be saved!  Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:  
pantaloons.

Our word is:

Wergild, noun.
In Anglo-Saxon and Germanic law, a price set upon a person's life on the basis of rank and paid as compensation by the family of a slayer to the kindred or lord of a slain person to free the culprit of further punishment or obligation and to prevent a blood feud.

And our fabulous sentences: 

Pantaloons -- c. 1816  
     "What do you think of these, John?" Richard turned in the mirror again, so John could see them better. The pantaloons were fitted excellently. Too excellently to be decent, John thought. However, that had never seemed to be Richard's first concern. They were also striped bright red and yellow. "Will I have the ladies following me in herd?" Richard asked.
     "You know I can't afford your wergild, do you not?" John said.
     Richard turned to blink at him.
     John explained, "For when I kill you because you wore those vile things in public."
     Richard laughed. "Luckily, Cousin, this isn't the Middle Ages any longer. When you kill me, they'll only hang you. I'll take them," he said to the shopkeeper.

 Next week's them is . . . masks. 



  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Release Day: The Stone Kingdom


Love and prince,
Both true, wed rose of white in realm of stone;
For blood begins,
But naught can be put right by blood alone.”
 One thoughtless act is all it takes to bring the curse threatened
on Rosalba’s christening day to pass. Now the princess must combine
her desperate determination with the service of benevolent tailor Edgwyn Wyle
to find the second half of the key to her kingdom’s restoration.
 The Stone Kingdom
Book Two of The Wilderhark Tales
 <> ~ <> ~<>
 An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast;
A princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell;
Bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk –
All within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.
 You’ve heard the stories –
of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist
the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns
appearing just in time for a midnight ball;
of frog princes, and swan princes,
and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea.
 Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.
 Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales.
Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

That's right. Today is the day you can get officially get your hands on a copy of the second book in Danielle E. Shipley's charming Wilderhark Tales!

You can get a paperback at Amazon or Createspace. It's also available on BN.com as a Nook Book, and as a mobi for your Kindle.

And if you want a copy, this week is the best time to get it because she's having a Special Launch Week Promotional Offer where if you buy the paperback and the Kindle editions together you get two dollars off. Not only that, but if you buy any version that gets you seven entries into her splendiferous Launch Week Giveaway.

Check out further awesome details at Danielle's blog, Ever On Word.

Congratulations, Danielle! Let your Release Day be awesome!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Save-A-Word Saturday

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!
  
Join us as we spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving them from the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.

save-a-word-saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>


The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Be a hero by using the words in your everyday life--that is how they will really be saved!  Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:  
buttered toast. 

Our word is:

contrariety, noun.
opposition of one thing to another in nature, quality, or action; diametrical difference, repugnancy, contrariness

And our sentences are...  

She swallowed one last bite of buttered toast and sat down with her watercolors.  The contrariety of hue in the landscape promised a morning of good painting. 

Next week's theme is: pantaloons. 

(Pantaloon is a rare and old word itself--here is what the OED has to say about it:  "Men's loose breeches extending below the knee, fashionable in the period after the Restoration.") 
 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Literary Fiction Disapproves of Your Silly YA Novel

Blatant refusal to accept reality. 

Those were the words that ran through my head this afternoon when I looked up from the linguistics book I was reading in our college library and found Mockingjay  leaning casually against a picture book entitled On Christmas Eve on the shelf in front of me.

The reason this was my view as I read my linguistics book is because some of the comfiest chairs are in front of the Children's Fiction section.

Let's think about that for a second.

Mockingjay lives in Children's Fiction. Uh-huh.

"Children's Fiction," in my college's estimation, encompasses everything from the small, brightly-colored cardboard books one reads to infants to the brutally bloody, fast-paced Hunger Games.

As I walked through the shelves I found similar odd pairings decreed by nothing more than the fate of last name. A picture book in primary colors called Who Can Fix It? and another called Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School are separated by only the entirety of Robin Mckinley's YA works. The Harry Potter books are split across two shelves allowing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to cuddle with a picture book called, simply, Beach Ball and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to be next door to A Cowboy Named Ernestine. In one truly fantastical line up, a MG called Blaze and the Forest Fire is adjacent to the bittersweet YA Tiger Lily, which touches Speak (another great YA), then there is a book called The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen, a picture book about Handel, and the shelf is nicely ended by The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.

Basically, YA has been dismissed to the ranks of "children's books" and is therefore irrelevant if not in fact bad. 

In his awesome book, 21st Century Fiction, the fantabulous Donald Maass* discusses the tension between academic, literary fiction and commercial fiction in a section about transcending genre. I read that section and laughed at silly people who couldn't get over themselves enough to just love books and at the idea of commercial writers bivouacking in our blog tent-city and at the literary writers having print runs of 200 books and then winning Pulitzers.** It only vaguely occurred to me that this strange feud would have significant bearing on my own life.

However, as college students, Susan and I are in a unique position to observe the disdain with which academia views popular fiction, worst of all YA,*** and it has been brought home to me recently in interactions of varying levels of unpleasantness that, in the opinion of my college--an institution I have the highest love and respect for--I come down on the wrong side of this strange class divide. In their opinion, YA is not a genre, let alone a worthwhile genre& and the fact that I write YA Fantasy and admit it (OMG!) seems to make me appear less of student and less of a writer than if I said I wrote Magical Realism. It grieves me that when circumstances force me to tell a professor what I write, I feel a momentary twist of shame. It hurts me to know that because of doing something I think is absolutely right, I become less in the eyes of these brilliant men and women whose approbation I care about more than I care about getting sufficient sleep.

And what irks me the most is that, as it has become increasingly clear, very few, if any, of the people who I have heard pass the worst judgements appear to have read even a single YA novel.

So they put it with the children's books and think about it as little as they can, ignoring any possible, and to me, obvious goods, and regarding it only as something silly for kids and for adults who foolishly refuse to grow up, instead of the earth-shakingly powerful medium that I know it is. 

It seems to me that we would all--as writers, as readers, as analysts and lovers of literature--benefit from better commerce between the white city of Academic Literature and the colorful gypsy camp of Commercial Fiction.

Give us your poetry and your wise beauty and we'll give you passion and unconquerable hope.

~~~~~~~~

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt that someone was judging you because you write Commercial fiction instead of Literary? Or YA instead of Adult fiction? Leave us a comment! I'm interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on this topic.

Be prepared for another installment on this issue pretty soon as it has become a big new feature of our lives.

~~~~~~~~

* Pronounced like the fuzzy green plant, so you don't embarrass yourself if you should have the happy chance to meet His Eminence.

** If you thought the last Pulitzer Prize winning book you read sucked, you will think this article is hilarious.
   
*** It seems they like to pretend that Romance and Erotica don't exist at all.

& Let me caveat this by saying that this opinion is certainly not universal. But it is by far the most popular.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Save-a-Word Saturday

Our new header and button are finally here! New background to follow in a soonish amount of time.  

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday!  
Join us as we spread our love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving them from the oldest, least-visited vaults of the Word Bank.

save-a-word-saturday
<a href="http://www.thefeatherandtherose.blogspot.com" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7UO138NOoX4/UItIxhKJwmI/AAAAAAAAArM/LBMYc_tVWdk/s800/sawmeme.jpg" alt="Save-a-Word Saturday" width="251" height="251" /></a>


The rules run thusly:

1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice). Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely words if you're having trouble coming up with something on your own.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Be a hero by using the words in your everyday life--that is how they will really be saved!  Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.


This week's theme is:  
maps. 

Our word (which sounds nothing like what it means) is:

daedal, adj.
ingeniously contrived or intricate; skillfully and artistically crafted

And our brilliant sentences are: 

     Andre leaned over the brilliantly colored map, and peered at the daedal borders that wound and curled around the edge in complex knots. It looked more like something meant to hang on the wall of a fat viscount who never left his study than a tool to guide a shipful of men safely to the end of the world.
     "And you say it's accurate?" Andre asked, looking up at the spotty shopkeeper who, Andre thought, looked about twelve though he was desperately trying to appear older.
     The young man smiled. "The mapmaker uses more than ink and vellum when he makes these maps, Captain."
     "How do you mean?"
     "Just that his maps have never led a man astray. I warrant you would not find more accurate were you to search the world for a hundred years."
     Andre stood up and dropped the map back to the counter top. "I think I'd like to meet this mapmaker," he said.
     The boy smiled. "You have."

Next week's theme is: buttered toast. 

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In which I disagree with Query Shark (OMG)

You read that right:  disagree...with the Query Shark.  *faints*



Don't get me wrong--I have learned SO MUCH from Query Shark (and continue to learn!  She started up again (wasn't there a break somewhere where she said she was quitting?) so click here and check out all the recent awesomeness--OR, if you're new to Query Shark, camp out and read all the archives.  All of them.  Seriously.) 

Among all the awesomeness arises the prickly problem of multiple POV queries.

Which tend to look like this, in case you've never written one.

The Shark answered it in what to many people was a query-saving brain wave, right here in Query Shark:  #199FTW.  

Basically, she says that if you're querying a multiple POV novel, you should focus on the story of one character in the query and then specify at the end what other POV's are included.   This advice has been widely shared, respected, appreciated, and applied with much success, as can be seen in AbsoluteWrite threads like this one. 

A writer of multiple POV's myself, I gratefully applied this advice to my query.  It ended up pretty nice, and I wasn't the only one who thought so.  

The query itself was fulfilling its role as an attention grabber and a "must-read-more!" prompter (I didn't actually query--I'm measuring success here according to various forums and agent/editor critiques I got along the way).  It was NOT, however, giving an accurate representation of my novel.

Which means....DEATH!

Okay, so this goat isn't actually dead.  It's a fainting goat.  Look it up.
Ahem.

But really.

I discovered this in May when I attended the annual PennWriters conference.  Still not actually in the query stage (thank goodness), I attended a session called WiP MD, in which I got to sit down with an agent and talk through any problems I was having and show him my query or synopsis if I wanted. 

After reading my query and THEN hearing me talk about my story, the agent in question informed me of two things:
1) My query seemed to only represent a very small part of the story I had written, and he would have felt cheated if he had to deal with such discontinuity in his inbox.
2) The things I was saying about the story as a whole, while (hehehe cringe) disjointed, were much more interesting to him (!) than what I featured in the query.

In my case, this was EXACTLY what I needed to hear.  This agent was right--looking back, that decent query I wrote (read: revised a million jillion times) was not getting to the heart of my story.  My reasons for going with this particular story idea and loving it were not on the page!  (<--NOT GOOD.) 


I'm not saying Query Shark's advice is bad advice--far from that, I see why it's the rule of thumb for multiple POV queries.  In a case like mine, however, in which some of the characters spend much of the book apart, I need to focus, above all, on the high-concept idea that draws them together and makes it absolutely necessary that they exist in the same story. 

Not the reaction I was going for...


This does leave us with a problem.  Query Shark's #199 advice has filtered around the internet for a reason:  multiple POV queries are HARD TO WRITE.  Harder to write than single POV.  Yes.  I said that. 

But what do you do if the conventional advice isn't working?  At this point, your guess is really as good as mine, but I think it's safe to say that I should....

1.  Make sure I'm not just messing up.  By this I mean make sure I can't pick a different character to focus on, or focus on different things in a character's story.  The key line in #199 is where Query Shark says that after giving one character's POV, "simply saying there are three POV's and whose they are tells [her] what [she] need[s] to know."  Can you write about one character's story and by the end have it be self-explanatory what would be going on in the other POV's?  I tried, and strictly following that piece of advice won't work for me.  Btw, however, if you can do that, follow the Query Shark!  I can tell you it will be an easier query to write. 

2.  The agent I met with at PennWriters suggested I find a relationship between my three main characters, such as a love triangle, to place at the center of the query.  This would be perfect.  If there were something like a love triangle or siblings that I could utilize.  But that leads me to the last point which is... 

3.  In my case at least, the story itself suffered a lack of unity.  I've known for a long time why the characters are all in this story together, but I wasn't bringing it out enough.  If multiple POV's are done right, they have a very compelling reason for existing in the same story.  So I did a lot of re-imagining (I did.  Ask Tyler-Rose.) and am now headed into a rewrite that already feels TONS better because I'm tying the characters together more closely.  And I think--I THINK--that once I've rewritten the thing with iron bonds of necessity pulling the three of them together in their story world, it's going to be easier for me to represent the story faithfully in a query. 

The kraken tentacles=my plot.  The poor little ship=my query/my little ship of ingenuity (Dante reference whoaaa)/my soul as I attempt to write a good query. 

So HOPEFULLY I will learn that once you enforce unity among the POV's in the manuscript, the query will totally write itself!!!!!  Kidding.  That would not be real life.  But hopefully it will become much more clear to me how I should be writing the query.  I wouldn't be surprised if I followed the #199FTW model for the majority of this new letter and sprinkled/wove in some info concerning the other characters.  Or maybe a different structure entirely will work for me. 

In any case, I think it boils down to (some advice I am not entirely qualified to give, but which I will write here anyway):  You need to have complete mastery over your story before you query it.  Maybe with multiple POV's (or in general) that won't come as fast as you want it to--but that still doesn't mean it's a good idea to dive in with a wobbly understanding of what makes your story tick.