Elizabeth: Emotional Impact

My week of vacation had barely started on Saturday when I burst into tears.

It was a great day.

Hmm . . . perhaps I should explain.

After a long, long, long wait, I finally got a chance to see a performance of Hamilton this Saturday.  The first time the show came to town the performances were completely sold out in a heartbeat.  I diligently entered the ticket lottery every day but, sadly, was never successful.  I was disappointed, not just because I wanted to see the show, but because I had been trying to get the tickets for my son, who really, really wanted to see the show.

Alas, no tickets.

Instead, I gave him the book, Hamilton the Revolution, which has all of the lyrics and story notes and such, and a promise of tickets “someday.”

This year, “someday” finally appeared on the calendar – it was this Saturday as a matter of fact.  We hopped on the train, headed to the city, and made our way to the beautiful Orpheum theater with a few thousand other folks.

Now, American history is not my strong suit, but I knew the basic gist of what would happen in the show.  I’d seen a behind-the-scenes documentary about it on the local PBS station, and my son had helpfully gone through the songs in the first act with me, so I’d have a clue what they were saying.

Nevertheless, as the final song was sung and the audience was surging to their feet with applause at the end of the performance, I was crying like a baby who’d been completely caught by surprise.

How did the creators (and cast) do that? Continue reading

Jilly: Visiting the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood

Will you have a moment to spare on Wednesday? I know that’s three days away, and I expect you have a million things to do between now and then, but I have a favor to ask. If you remember, and if you’re willing, when Wednesday comes around please drop by the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog and say hi to me over there. I have a guest post and I’d really like to avoid looking like Jilly No-Mates 😉 .

The Rubies are the RWA Golden Heart Class of 2009. They’ve been writing, publishing, and blogging for the last decade and they’re still going strong. They have an annual contest, a winter writing festival, and every summer they schedule a series of guest posts for the current Golden Heart finalists. This year’s GH selection has been great fun (see below), and there are more posts to come over the next three weeks.

On Wednesday I’ll be talking about my GH finalling story The Transformation of Alexis Doe and the prequel I’m planning to publish first—The Seeds of Power, otherwise known as Christal’s book. I think I’m the only fantasy writer among the paranormal finalists, so my blurbs sound quite out there compared to the others. I’m more than a bit nervous.

To whet your appetite, here are the interesting and varied guest bloggers so far, and thumbnail descriptions of their stories based on their posts: Continue reading

Elizabeth: At a Loss for Words

“Had we but words enough, and time,
Thy poems, dear, would be sublime.”

I have the time, it’s the words I’m having trouble getting right.

Readers familiar with Andrew Marvell’s poem, To HIs Coy Mistress, know that the above lines aren’t quite right either.  They should read:

“Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.”

However, when searching for the poem on the internet earlier today (for no good reason), I ran across the alternate version on The Piker Press, and it tickled my fancy.  Here’s the whole bit:

“Had we but words enough, and time,
Thy poems, dear, would be sublime.
We’d read aloud a verse each day,
And watch delicious words at play.
I’d speak each noun, then let you, miss,
Enunciate a verbal kiss.”  ~  Cheryl Haimann

Today’s post isn’t about poetry, though I did pick just pick up two new books of poems – Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost – when I stopped for a browse through the local bookstore on my way home from work. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Back to Basics – Starting a “New” Story

Stories Yet To Be WrittenA few weeks ago I mentioned that I was trying to decide wether to keep plugging away on the current manuscripts I have in process or to call it a day and get on with my (writing) life.

The part of me that felt I was trapped in revision paralysis was all for “let’s build a bonfire / I’ll get the matches.”  The part of me that never stopped reading a book partway through (until Madame Bovary), was more “quitter, quitter, quitter.”

A conundrum, indeed.

Fortunately, I think I’ve come up with a solution that pleases no one combines the two options.  I’m taking one of my three manuscripts and starting it all over from scratch.

Sounds like fun, right?  No?  Well, it was Jilly’s idea. Continue reading

Jilly: Uglycry stories

Do you enjoy books and authors that make you uglycry?

I’m currently participating in an online workshop offered by Jeanne’s RWA Chapter (Central Ohio Fiction Writers). It’s called Inside Out: Crafting Your Character’s Internal Conflict, taught by Linnea Sinclair. So far, so very good—the class is challenging me to dig deep into my characters’ innermost selves. It’s also making me think about how best to use the discoveries I’m making to tell the kind of stories I want to tell.

This week Jeanne, who is also taking the class, raised a question about her WIP. One of the other students offered a suggestion that brilliantly fits the heroine’s situation and is so gut-wrenchingly powerful it would hurt my heart to read it. I know this kind of storyline makes a book unforgettable. I believe it would earn reviews and might potentially win awards. I think it could make lifelong fans of readers who seek out this kind of emotional torture and the catharsis that follows when the heroine triumphs and everything turns out okay after all.

That’s not me. I find that the emotional distress of the tense build-up makes me feel miserable long after the relief of the satisfying resolution has dissipated.

I’m still scarred by the ending of Gone With The Wind, and I last read that when I was a teen 😉 .

Or take Loretta Chase (love, love, love Loretta Chase). I happily read and re-read Lord of Scoundrels, The Last Hellion, and all her Carsington family books, over and over. Those books pack a powerful emotional punch, but the story momentum always heads in a positive direction, and humor balances the serious undertones, so I never feel distressed. I can relax and enjoy the ride. Conversely, her first Dressmaker book (Silk is for Seduction) knotted my heart in my chest. The writing is brilliant. The black moment is one of the best sex scenes I’ve ever read, and it made me uglycry. Continue reading

Nancy: In Praise of Backstory

Last week, Jeanne wrote about needing help figuring out how the characters in her book progressed to a second date in their years’-earlier relationship. In the comments, there were some great suggestions for how she could figure out how the hero convinced the heroine to go out with him after a less-than-stellar first date. In addition to the brainstorming, I liked some other things about Jeanne’s post, such as 1) an excerpt – yay! and 2) some love for the backstory she’s creating for her characters.

We’ve discussed backstory on the blog before. I wrote about it here and here, giving some examples of where you’ve seen and why it’s not such a bad thing. As I’m deep into a story that depends on multiple levels of backstory, and juxtaposed with Jeanne sharing her bit of backstory she’s writing for her WIP, I thought it a prescient time for a reminder of how important this nifty little element of fiction is. According to writing teacher extraordinaire Lisa Cron’s philosophy, backstory is the backbone of story itself. Continue reading

Kay: Finding The Voice

Copyright: Konstantin Sutyagin

The other night I watched a three-part mini-series on Amazon Prime called David and Olivia. Part One opens with a guy (David, we learn later), getting into his car and driving away, not noticing that there’s a naked woman (Olivia, we learn later) asleep on the back seat.

Great premise!

She wakes up and keeps herself more or less covered with a large, bulky, plastic bag she’s carrying. I think it takes too long for him to notice her, but when he does, he’s startled and then solicitous. Olivia says she’s on her way to Edinburgh; will he take her there? David says no; he’s taking his girlfriend’s passport to the Glasgow airport because she’s on a business trip and she forgot it. Continue reading