Friday, October 13, 2017

Mini Book Reviews, a Blanket, and ROW80


In between readings for school, here's what I've been reading:

Summer Fire by Sally Wentworth, because it has the same name as my novel, coming out in December!

This book was published in 1980.
Let's just say that tastes and conventions in romance have changed quite a bit since then...

Reach for the Sky by Paul Brickhill (who became a prisoner of war and was sent to Stalag Luft III, where he assisted in a mass breakout in March 1944, which became the basis of his book The Great Escape).

This book is about Douglas Bader:
"Aged 21, Bader was a rising star in the RAF: an exceptional pilot with a natural flair for stunt flying and an outstanding sportsman, tipped to play rugby for England. Then disaster struck. Carrying out a banned “slow roll” at low altitude, Bader crashed so badly that he had to have both legs amputated.
Drawing on his own experiences as a fighter pilot and prisoner-of-war, Paul Brickhill takes us through the exhilarating highs and devastating lows of the crash and Bader's fight for survival; his gruelling efforts to master walking, and then flying, with two artificial limbs; the thrills of dog-fights during the evacuation of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz; the drama of Bader's final combat mission when his Spitfire's tail and fuselage were completely destroyed, forcing him to bail out over occupied France; and his relentless 'goon-baiting' and escape attempts as a prisoner-of-war. More than just Boy's Own adventure, Reach for the Sky is a gripping and profoundly moving account of Bader's war against the Germans, and his battle with himself.
Brickhill's original text is supplemented by an Afterword written by Bader, that gives a very personal insight into physical disability and how he overcame it." (from The Folio Society page)

I never know what to say about books like these.
It just reaffirms my fascination with reading about the lives and events of WWI and WWII.
Bader's grit and determination towards every facet of life are astounding and inspiring.

Vile Jelly by Monica Byrne (short story)

You can read this story right now, and all eight other stories issued in the past year or so, by becoming a Patron of Monica!

As for ROW80... Three updates:

1. I've been quite busy with school, but a couple of weeks ago managed to finish knitting this blanket as a gift:

2. I submitted a story for the Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology contest! Wish me luck...

3. The Charm of Time is still out with betas, but it's sequel is plugging along. Can't wait to dive into it completely during NaNoWriMo!

What have you been reading?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Summertime Travels III: Scotland: Culross, Dunfermline, and Edinburgh


I've already shared a bit of this trip, in my review of the stage performance of Tolkien's Leaf by Niggle. But here are a few other photos!

Starting in the village of Culross, where some scenes set in Cranesmuir in the Outlander world were filmed:

Culross Abbey and the view from the Abbey 

Geddes House, a former schoolhouse turned into residences

The graveyard by the Abbey, directly beside Geddes House
I wonder what "3 Lairs" means?

Culross Palace and gardens, used as the Castle Leoch kitchen garden in Outlander!

The Lockit Well of St Serf, a spring used by the monk and his followers 1,500 years ago

The Tron, a replica of an ancient weighing stone

View over the Firth of Forth   

Mercat Cross, Culross, and Mercat Cross, Dunfermline,
marking the fact that both towns had a traditional right granted by a monarch or bishop to hold a regular market or fair

Outlander exhibition, the Lallybroch Cafe (and Jamie!) and a Dumpy Hen

Andrew Carnegie's birthplace in Dunfermline

Church and wedding in Dunfermline 

Winterthur Lane!
I looked it up. Apparently there was a Swiss company called Winterthur Silks at one time in Dunfermline

Dunfermline train station, view from the rail bridge, and the castle through the rain...
View from Edinburgh hotel on a rainy morning...
Edinburgh in the evening

Diagon House!
More views of Edinburgh in the evening, including Murrayfield rugby grounds outside the city

National Gallery, and Fringe Festival scenes

View from Edinburgh hotel on a clear night...

I'm going to post a longer ROW80 check in today -- what Diana Gabaldon, in reference to compiling what she knows of a story so far, calls a state of the wicket -- with only 16 days left to go in this round.

Here were my goals for August as shared on the writers forum, and how I fared on accomplishing them:

Finish entering the edits for The Charm of Time: I came close. Only about 8 scenes left to go, but it's all the climax at the end, which needs a massive overhaul.

Post the draft synopsis here for feedback: Ongoing!

Get cracking on the Swiss and Scots dialect usage: A friend of mine came up with gold! He was the only one that understood exactly what I needed, reading a few chapters and tweaking Scots word choice here and there. Now I just need to match that in the rest of the book, and to find someone to do the same for the French and Swiss phrases...

Compile all the bits I need to submit Druid's Moon to a small publisher: I have to edit these bits, not least the marketing plan they want as part of the query letter.

Follow up with Carina Press on the retitled short story: Ongoing! I haven't received edits yet...

Edit the new short story, possibly for Surrey: On backburner for now.

Keep up with blogging: Blogging and commenting too! I'm all caught up!

Knitting: I started the first of the two new projects. An excuse to buy new wool!

Now, in September, my revised goals look like this:

Finish the latest round of edits on The Charm of Time. That still leaves most of the Scots and Swiss bits I've flagged, plus a couple of minor character arc things. All ready for the next reread. I've left the synopsis and query letter alone for now. I'd like to reread the book, re-enter the next edits, then finally send it to betas before I do anything more. (That leaves the new short story and Druid's Moon hanging about. Especially because my mind is busy with ideas for a sequel for The Charm of Time. Some sort of blend of romance and mystery. I love mysteries but have never tried my hand at a novel-length one. We shall see, probably come NaNoWriMo time.)
As of this morning, I'm done! On entering edits, at any rate. I still have to add some text to a couple of scenes, edit the climax and write the sweet epilogue, before I print it all and edit it again.

Also: Keep up with blogging. Keep knitting (I've only got a few hours of work left to do to finish the latest baby blanket!). Prepare for sudden unannounced houseguests coming in two weeks' time. But mostly -- back to school! First year of my Master's degree courses start next Monday!

That seems to tie in well with today's Insecure Writer's Support Group Day question:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

Going back to school after so many years, to the world of essays and exams, is definitely going to be a style of writing I haven't done in a long time.

Even more insecurity -- I've received the official edits for the story I'd submitted to Carina Press. I've got to drop everything and work on them over the next few days. Send me virtual energy and inspiration and a flaming sword of a pen to banish fears of inadequacy as I rewrite!

Thank you to this month's IWSG Day co-hosts:

Have you changed any of your goals recently?
Have you worked on something difficult? How did you build up your confidence?