Sunday, January 31, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
First, project one, which is revised within an inch of its life and in the process of querying its little heart out, Linden Hall. Given that it's eighteenth-century, the music I had running through my head was mainly classical, and in fact mostly earlier than the time period (for some reason, the setting seemed a bit caught in time even though it was already in the past). Geek moment--after handbell rehearsal every Thursday during draft phase, I was going to work at a local coffeeshop, and there was an early music program on public radio at the same time--chant and plainsong through baroque. So this was feeding me every week, which might account for part of the association.
If there's a single theme song to this, though, it would have be the Adagio from Corelli's Christmas Concerto, which makes an appearance in the book. In my head, it isn't the Adagio you'd find in a music score--it's the version that was arranged for my wedding three years ago. By "arranged," I mean that I crossed out about twenty measures in the middle with a dull pencil at the rehearsal and our incredible pianist, a dear friend, pulled something together for him and our violinist (the piece is for strings, not piano and violin, but it sounded amazing under his manipulation!). It's similar to the version heard in Master and Commander.
Other pieces that ran through my head often while working--Rorate and Breton Carol. For some reason, yes, they are all Christmas pieces. No, I don' t know why.
For the work in progress, there's a more definite theme song--it's the same as the title as the WIP, December, sung by Kay Starr. A 1950s Christmas number (I have an excuse this time--the story is set during, well, December), it really captured the lost, homesick ken I was aiming for with the story, set in post-WWII Chicago. Even though the piece is a bit late, I imagine it on the radio in the background. Other pieces that surface in the story itself: "(That's why they call me) Shine" (I have a fondness for the Django Reinhardt version with vocalist Freddy Taylor), "The Swan" from Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saens, and Satie's Gymnopaedies.
If you're a writer, does music inspire or make cameos in your work? What's your WIP's relationship with music? As a reader, how do you see the connection between music and prose?
Completely unrelated--but drop in at the Giveaway post, let me know you're here, and get entered to win books.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
This is a re-read for me--I'd picked up the hefty tome years ago in a sale bin, drawn in by the lovely cover. What made me buy it, though, was a bit of subject matter intrinsic to the plot--eighteenth century medicine. It's time I confess that, in my reenacting persona, I'm the daughter of a regimental surgeon, so the facets of eighteenth-century medicine have fascinated me since I was a young girl. (And I can walk you through an amputation in a jiffy, with time to trepan a pumpkin if we're doing well on time...but that's another post for another day.)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Friend of mine June posted this on her blog months back...before I was doing much in the way of blogging myself. Loved her post at the time, and as she picked it up from someone else, thought I would pick it up and use it as well (please feel free to steal or borrow at will!).
This is where I usually work. Enlarge photo for pithy comments.
It's in the spare bedroom of the townhouse I currently live in with my husband and three cats (if you're my landlord, I was just kidding about three cats--make that TWO cats, per our lease. The third, clearly, lives in my head only. Thanks). I recently replaced my gargantuan ancient desktop with a compact laptop model and look! I can fit more things on the desk. Plus, this makes my desk moveable--this is home base, but I venture out in the world pretty often.
As a note, I notice that a lot of writers keep music handy. I don't, though I'm not sure why--I do enjoy and am inspired by music, especially classical, folk, and swing/jazz. I am a bit techoimpaired on the music, though, and tend to stick with CDs (how big of a fogey am I?) and those live elsewhere. I usually don't write and listen to music.
I also have a nice armchair on the room, for reading my stacks of library books. It smells kinda musty, but it should--it's pretty ancient as it came from my Grandma Ruby's house.
Because she's already been mentioned twice, a close-up shot of the photo of Grandma Ruby. Not only does she have amazing hair in this photo (talk about a lady who could carry a bob well!), she's one of my inspirations--she was a really bright woman who went out of her way for education (she moved from her hometown to live with her sister in order to go to high school). Because of when she lived and the circumstances of her life, she didn't leave behind a legacy outside her family, but she inspires me to do what I'm called to do--because I can pursue whatever I want, while she wasn't able to. This is why her photo lives on my desk.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
- Method A: Leave comment on any blog post but this one (already posted or posted between now and end of giveaway)
- Method B: Follow this blog, or add me to your blogroll (previously added links count this time!) To be fair to those without blogger accounts, I'll only count one of these.
Do one or both, and then just leave me a comment in this post that tells me what you did. Thanks for playing! I'll leave this open from today until January 31.
Just for kicks, a peek at some of the non-book items I keep displayed on this shelf:
Display shelves--emphasis on eighteenth century miscellany. The handpainted box has to share a shelf with my CS Lewis and my cookbooks.
Closer look at the handpainted box--this was my favorite wedding gift, which a friend did for us. The painted versions of my husband and I actually look quite a bit like us!
Finally, the powder horn my father, an amazing scrimshander, made for my husband. It's sharing the shelf with a reproduction pistol, also a wedding gift (what the giver intended by that, I'm not quite sure...). The top is a common Revolutionary War era image of a hand holding thirteen arrows, for thirteen colonies united in rebellion. The text is lines from the Declaration "That all men are created equal." The bottom photo shows a "Peaceable Kingdom" scene, in which animals coexist with one another on a pastoral background (in this case, Mount Vernon and a seascape with ships), based on the scripture in Isaiah (lion shall lay with the calf, etc).
Thanks for playing, and I hope to share these books with two of you!
Monday, January 18, 2010
*Completely inspired for the ballet scene I wanted to write by this:
OK, I know little to nothing about ballet (except that, according to one of my best friend's sister, a professional dancer, I have ballerina feet--who knew?). But I know that this is absolute sheer beauty.
*Still have a full and a partial out with agents. Didn't hear from agent I was really hoping would dig my query and it's been two weeks. Need to realize I should send more than 12 queries before beginning to tear my own hair out. Beginning to truly loathe waiting.
*Learning that productivity is addictive. I don't want to go to work at all this week--I want to sit in my room, brooding and typing and going through too much coffee and wine. Mustn't waste the last hours of the holiday weekend
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Let's chat for a moment on why these are so fab, shall we? First--the fabric. This, friends, is indulgence--the La Perla, the Agent Provocateur of the eighteenth century. This is underwear made of silk damask. Clearly, this is a garment for a well-to-do lady. Middling sorts would have had stays made of linen; the poorest even wore leather stays.
These are not only of a luxurious fabric, but the cut is very fashionable, too. The front will lay nearly flat when the stays are laced, the bosom will be "fluffed" as we jokingly refer to it, and the torso will be molded into a conical shape, the shoulders pulled back by the straps.
A few points on these. First, the high bosom. Notice the horizontal stitching, which is either reinforcing or boning casings. Earlier stays mostly have only vertical boning, but these put a horizontal band in which would have lifted the bosom and put additional emphasis there, which appears to be a later development in eighteenth-century corsetry.
As for the conical torso. We often think of corsets as creating hourglass figures, but this is not a corset--this is a pair of eighteenth century stays. The point is not curve, but cone. I could get into a lot of my cockamamey theories on how the cult of domesticity and heightened belief that women were weak critters can be traced through the increasingly feminizing corsets of the Victorian Era, but I'll skip it for now and just note this : A woman wearing this pair of stays would have stood with exceptional posture, with a figure based more on angles than curves, and her shoulders back.
About those shoulders. Upper-class stays like these often include shoulder straps, which would have trained the shoulders back for what your grandma would praise as great posture, but also would have limited movement. Working women (farmers, tradesmen's wives, the women who had hard days of manual labor) would have been impeded by this, so seem to have skipped them more often than not.
Some other time, I'll launch into how I plan to make a very similar pair to replace my worn-out ten-year-old stays, and how (no really) they aren't terribly uncomfortable. But for now, I'm just going to bask in how lovely these are.
Photograph from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
A couple days ago I was reading vital internet-disseminated information (ie, perusing blogs) while at work (no, not while at work...wait, I didn't say that...) and came across a fun contest on Nathan Bransford's blog in honor of the release of his client's book, The Secret Year. The challenge was to write a diary entry or letter (something vaguely epistolary, in any case) in the voice of a teenager.
Seeing as I was at work during the slowest time of year, I thought it would be fun to type something out, and this is what I came up with:
May 5, 1780
Full sun, unseasonably warm
I know it is an awfully uncharitable thing to think, but I cannot be in the room with Aunt Madeleine’s spoilt children for more than five minutes before I start to wonder if Swift’s Modest Proposal could be tested in our household. Perhaps this is why Mother protested so violently to Father allowing me to read modern writings, though I believe the primary reason to lie more solidly in her own inability to read any but the most elementary of compositions. Anyone knows that I am most conscientious to avoid prideful thought or uncharitable comparison, but I cannot escape the fact that my mother not only far less educated but less inclined to education than I. Regardless, I shall be escaping ever the more often to the library to escape Ophelia and Cornelius (are those not the silliest names you can imagine bestowing upon children?) as they will be with us for another fortnight.
Perhaps I am in a particularly foul mood on the subject of those children as it is on their account that I am being kept from the dinner party at the Greenes’ next Thursday evening. Mother thought it a delightful idea that I remain at home and watch the miniature terrors so that Madeleine could attend the party. I protested that my old nursemaid would be better suited to the task, but as she is now the plantation’s pastry cook Mother felt she would be kept too busy at her own tasks to properly manage the children, too. In addition, she felt it would be beneficial to my moral character and maternal instinct to watch them. Maternal instinct, indeed! As though one could feel maternal toward a pair of sticky-handed demons.
It is almost as though Mother knows that Betty Greene has been contriving to arrange dancing after dinner, and to provide her middle brother for my partner. Betty can think of no better amusement than match-making her brothers away to her dearest friends, hoping, I suppose, that she can eventually add us as sisters. It is not that I find Jerome Greene terribly appealing—he is too short, for one, and his red hair does not suit him—but it would be nice to dance for an evening like a proper adult. No, instead I am chained to a pair of prattling, screaming Lilliputians. It seems that everyone around me is permitted some acquiescence toward adulthood—my brother joining the Congressional forces of his own volition, Betty with her little dance parties. I must content myself with books, I suppose.
Just as a lark, really--but I was thrilled to be chosen as one of five finalists from over 500 entries! It was definitely the confidence booster I needed during a very slow winter in the uplift department. Plus, finalists get a query letter critique from Nathan--though I've been using my current query and getting some response, I will definitely appreciate getting an expert point of view.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
So instead of scheduling time to write and setting short-term goals (I tried that last year, and it lasted about a fortnight before divebombing into failure), I'm trying something different. I'm recording what I accomplish every day in an otherwise unused day planner, reserving goals for the long-term (one benchmark to work towards noted every couple months) My mother gives me day planners every year for Christmas, and while I found these helpful in college, my life doesn't revolve around those kinds of deadlines and timetables anymore. The little lines will now be filled (hopefully) with notations like "1000 words this afternoon" and "edited 20 pages" and "posted blog entry." My hope is that looking back at those small steps while looking ahead to bigger goals will keep me motivated and moving forward.
And at least I'll have a use for that silly day planner!
I wonder what other sorts of systems folks employ to organize their goals and time pursuing those goals. Sharing welcome :)
Monday, January 4, 2010
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I was a fascinated by the concept of openness, and the idea of celebrating the freedom of coming out of our self-imposed closets. Sometimes we put such weight on the things we keep secret--even on some big things it's often unwarranted. I've had one person come out of the closet with me--"the" closet, not the "I secretly love eating straight butter" closet--and while I respect how difficult it was for him to do so, you know what? For 95% of the people who know him, it not only didn't change our opinion but we already kinda knew anyway.
So I thought about what I would say if I walked through that doorway from nowhere into openness. What do most people not know about me that's intrinsic to who I am and how I function?
I write novels.
Yeah, they're not published. They might never be. But I write them and I'm working toward publication, so it's fair to say: I write novels.
And because this is something that's pretty important in my life right now, I'll be blogging about it more. For one, I could use the support and ya'll knowing what's going on. More so, writing helps me explore and process--so writing out some of my thoughts on, well, writing might just help out the bigger picture, too.
What would you say if you walked through that doorway? Something worth thinking about as a new year opens up in front of us!