Letters Never Mailed: 32 Years of Writing to To Waits

lettersnevermailedFROM THE BOOK BACK…“Susan Borgeson’s place among modern day existentialist writers is definitely at the front table.  The evidence that remains is within the pages of this book — and what does remain after writing Tom Waits everyday for 32 years — with no response — is truly remarkable.  A woman of letters is an understated description of a courageous individual that was stricken in her teens with mild schizophrenia and severe, bi-polar (manic depression) disorder.  Her individual struggle to overcome is a lesson for women of all ages, and for anyone with a mental handicap.  These ‘letters’ were all written around the turn of the 21st century.  And, nearly ten years later, still have a reflexive quality that transcends the psychologist’s case study.  Borgeson’s letters have remained fresh and give the meaning to our shared and diverse humanity…Richard Collins, RedEye Publishing International”

FROM THE BOOK FAERY REVIEWS…Reviewing poetry is often hard because you want to give your opinion so others can decide whether they wish to pick it up but the thing with poetry is that how we read and interpret it may be very different from someone else.  Poetry is what I call writing on feeling.  Everyone has their own taste when it comes to reading or even listening to poetry (like music).  I like poems that are raw, to the point, and filled with feeling.  I want to feel the moment like the author.  If a poetry writer can bring me there and I’m feeling that anger, that pain, that happiness, that passion, then I’m sold.

I rather liked this short poetry book by Susan Borgeson.  The author who has mild schizophrenia and severe bi-polar disorder wrote her feelings as they were after enduring a memorable love lost (but perhaps for the better) over over the course of 32 years.  I liked the poems…they felt real, they weren’t fluffy, they just were real.  I could sense the feeling that she was experiencing at the moment of righting that particular poem.  I would recommend anyone who’s experienced love and the loss of love to pick this one up and read it.  It was a VERY quick read, a poetry reading that doesn’t require a genius to decipher the meaning, and a read that will stick in your mind later on.

BAPA 3: Effective Characters Descriptions for Novel Writers

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Characters, like people (comma) are more than a name. Readers don’t take to characters with no substance or dimensions. As a writer, it is up to you to show all facets of the character to the reader.

Publishers and agents don’t get along well with writers who populate their books with one-dimensional characters. They are looking for a return on their investment in you and your book. Getting out of the starting gate will be difficult with characters that don’t leap off the page.

Let us consider The Sentence. As the story’s creator, you are charged with describing each main character: protagonist, antagonist, and the situation that brings them into conflict and any twists for interesting reading. The Sentence is essentially each part of your story idea laid out in a manner that can be understood by others.

What would you say about the protagonist? Let’s start with this character. The description starts with a good noun for a general shaping of your character. The process continues when you add adjectives to flesh out the protagonist. Use these questions as a guide:

· What is your character like? (This question relates to the character’s wants, desires, and needs out of life)

· Who are the people in his or her life? (This question relates to their personal life)?

· What does your character do? (This question considers their professional life)

Using the above questions, here is an example for you. Suppose that the protagonist is a female. She could be “girl”, “sister”, or “wife.” The noun gets the ball rolling but an adjective provides insight. That female turns into “teenage girl” or “schizophrenic wife.” Now, the reader begins to “see” her as you do.

What about your antagonist? Whether he or she is good but misunderstood or purely evil is up to you and your character descriptions. Each story has a character that is in conflict with your protagonist, or main character. The questions used to describe the protagonist are applied to flesh out the antagonist as well.

The best thing about characters is that they come from our brilliant minds and can take many forms. The protagonist can be a secret society, an apparition, or even a non-living entity. With that said, your characters must still be seen as complete in the minds of your readers.

Character description is not easy. It if takes you a few times, don’t worry. These characters are yours to shape, reshape, and grant life. Fine tune them until you are happy. Effective descriptions use few words to say a lot.

Want to create compelling characters that help sell your writing? Holly Lisle is a full-time writer who has sold 30+ novels to major publishers and is the creator of the “How to Think Sideways Career Survival School for Writers”. Go to http://howtothinksideways.com/members/?rid=1012 and access 3 free lessons that teach you how to write a novel that sells – straight from her highly-acclaimed course.

The Truth Lies in the Dark & Author Interview

a-truth-lies-in-the-darkFROM THE AUTHOR SITE…” What if you found out that everything you thought you knew was a lie? That the people you loved and trusted kept a life changing secret from you? These are a few of the questions Amanda Martineau must answer in The Truth Lies in the Dark. As a child Amanda survived a plane crash that killed her parents and left her with no memory of her life before the accident. Raised by her grandparents, she only knows what they have told her about her past and her family. But her reoccurring nightmares tell her something different. They leave her feeling like a stranger in her own mind. Then an unfinished letter written by her grandfather thrusts her deeper into confusion. A business trip with her husband Nick quickly turns into a personal journey to expose the secret of her past. As she searches for answers she only finds more questions. Who can she trust? Who is there to help her and who is there to make sure that the truth remains…in the dark?”

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR…

BF: What was your inspiration to this book?

KC: I have always wanted to write a book and finally decided to try.  I started writing with a pen and a pad while I watched my kids play at the park.  I kept my writing hidden like a dirty secret.  I still find it hard to write when there are people around.  Once I had the characters and their backgrounds down on paper the entire story seemed to come alive in my head.  It was like I had already seen the movie and just had to put it on paper.  That was the hard part; finding time around the schedules of four children and a husband to concentrate on writing.  I finally set a time limit for myself to finish it or forget it.  I finished in two months.

BF: How did you go about creating the characters and places? Are any of the characters or places you wrote about significant to you?

KC: By the time I finished writing, reading, editing, re editing The Truth Lies in the Dark I felt like  Amanda and Nick were friends of mine.  I was so wrapped up in the story that I was talking to a friend and started to tell her something that Amanda did.  I caught myself and thought, “You really are losing it.  She’s not a real person.” But all of my characters are completely fictional.  I would get myself into trouble if I tried to base them on people I knew.

For the places in Connecticut, I chose ones that I was familiar with.  I used an atlas and the Internet to research the places in California and Nevada.

BF: Who was your favorite character to write?

KC: My favorite character in this book was Amanda.  She was not only the main character, but she changed the most in the story.  She started out very emotionally dependent.  I had fun giving her some guts.

BF: What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

KC: That would also have to be Amanda.  It was difficult to show her dependence on her grandparents and husband and not make her too weak.

BF: How long did it take to finish this novel?

KC: Once I got serious, it only took two months.  But that doesn’t count the year plus that I had my pad tucked away with all of my notes and the first chapter.

BF: If your book was being discussed by a book club, or a few friends meeting over coffee, what about the book do you think would drive the most discussion? (a particular character, event, theme)?

KC: Oh definitely the surprise twist after Amanda finds out that Nick knew about her mysterious past and didn’t tell her.  I am not saying anymore, but I have gotten a lot of comments on that.

BF: If your book was made into a movie, what actors/actresses would you like playing the main roles?

KC: First of all it would make a great Lifetime movie.  I’m not sure who I pick for actors.  Probably someone unknown, since I picture Amanda as a normal woman, slightly scarred and all.  As for picking who would play Nick.  All I ask is that I get to be there when they pick him.  Tall, dark, handsome and hopelessly devoted to his wife…yum :)

BF: Do you write during set hours of the day or do you write when the mood hits?

KC: I write the best when there is no one home, so not as often as I like.  When there are no snow storms or sick days ( or as I call them, kid holidays!) I try to write everyday.

BF: What types of books do you most enjoy reading? Who are your favorite authors?

KC: I love all types.  I always have a book next to the couch that I read while watching TV with the family.  I have read most of Ernest Hemingway, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, Mary Higgins Clark, Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts, and just read the first book in her J.D. Robb  Death series.  I also have a over flowing shelf of books that cover every aspect of writing, thanks to my book lovin’ mother.  She is always picking up helpful books for me at library sales, book stores, etc. 

BF: Do you have any advice to those working on their first novels?

KC: Yes, be patient.  Publishing takes a lot more time than most realize, and rejections are a normal part of the process.  And be prepared to do a lot of your own promoting and marketing.  The book world is changing and even big publishers are expecting more author involvement.

BF: Are you currently working on another novel and if so could you give us a sneak peek?

KC: I have a second manuscript being considered by a New York publisher now.  It is about a real estate agent that buys an investment property to “Flip” and flips his whole life instead.  I will hopefully have more news on that soon.  I am also working on another mystery.

Thank you Farrah for interviewing me on The Book Faery and thanks to all that took the time out of their own busy lives to learn a little about me and my book.  Anyone that is interested in following my Book Blog Tour, or just want to see where I’ve been, you can go to my website http://sites.google.com/site/kristincallenderbooks.

The Truth Lies in the Dark by Kristin Callender is available at www.amazon.com/Truth-Lies-Dark-Kristin-Callender/dp/1604520140 and is currently the “Featured Book of the Month” at www.bluewaterpress.com.
– Kristin Callender

FROM THE BOOK FAERY REVIEWS…Thanks to Kristin for spending the time to allow me to interview her and for sending me a copy of her book.  I enjoyed getting to know her more apart from just being an author but as a mother and individual as well.  I always enjoy an author who likes to connect with her readers on a more personal level and that I feel we did with our previous interactions for this interview.  I’m just as thrilled as she was when she told me that her son designed the cover for the book.  It looks great and gave it a good image for your story.  As a mother I know that she was excited to share with others her son’s talent and the fact that he was involved in her process.  I personally enjoyed the suspense in the book and the feelings she created with the characters.  There was a moment that I was annoyed by the character Amanda’s dependency and constant “need” and the way that her husband Nick seemed to act too lovey.  However, after reading the whole story it made sense and answered the whys I had.  What man wouldn’t want to protect and love his wife as much as Nick did?  I have to admit I was a little shocked to read who actually caused all the pain for her once it was revealed.  Good book and one I’d recommend to someone looking for a quick read that will keep you engaged to the end.

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Now it’s time for a GIVEAWAY!! 1 randomly picked commenter will receive a copy of Kristin’s book!

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The Book Faery Reviews is hosting a Book Giveaway 3/24-3/26!!

  • Giveaway ends on: 3/26/09 at Noon ET, Winner to be randomly selected and posted by 3/27/09. Winners have 48 hours to contact me with mailing addresses once notified of winning.
  • Copies available: 1 copy
  • Countries available: USA & Canada; No PO Boxes

5 Ways to gain an entry (please leave a comment for EACH item completed):

  1. Leave a comment below with your e-mail address
  2. Leave a comment in another post here at The Book Faery Reviews
  3. Add The Book Faery Reviews to your RSS feed or subscribe via e-mail
  4. Post about this giveaway and provide a link
  5. Follow @wifeandmomof3 and Tweet about this giveaway. Don’t forget to provide me your Twitter username in your comment so I can follow you.

Author Guest Post: Kimberly Elliott (Cheryl)

Today author of Shattered Reality, Kimberly Elliott-Cheryl has graced this side of the blogosphere.  Please welcome her and leave her plenty of comments.  I will be giving away a copy of her book Shattered Reality to one lucky commenter at the end of this week so comment away!

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Grief, pain and tears are reality. No one makes it through this life without them.  In writing Shattered Reality, I tried to put content around the multiple feelings that afflicted my family and myself as a result of Child Sexual Assault (CSA).  Taking the journey as an author was not an easy one but has helped me with my inner struggle to understand and deal with CSA.  I also hope it will help others understand this silent epidemic.

Although my family’s experiences with Child Sexual Assault are unique to us, they are sadly too similar to so many other families who have had to deal with the aftermath of abuse.  At the point of disclosure, there were so many wonderful books written by adults who had survived sexual assault as children; so many web sites by survivors.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything available for my immediate family members or myself on how to deal with our feelings as secondary survivors. No handbook on how to deal with a judicial system that doesn’t want to prosecute cases of incest.  There are so many parents who are suffering with no help and no resources; no validation for their feelings.  I am hopeful Shattered Reality will help them validate what they are experiencing and feeling as well as provide resources for assistance during their unique journeys.  They are not alone.  I want others to realize: while life is not fair, broken lives can be fixed.   Healing and survival can arise from darkness.

Kimberly Elliott, MBA, Certified Rape, Aggression,Defense (RAD) Trainer
Executive Defense Technology, LLC.       www.execdeftech.com

To order T-shirts to support children of assault visit: www.animewithattitude.com
Author: Are Your Habits Killing You? Complete Safety Handbook for All
Escape from the Pharma Drug Cartel
Shattered Reality (**NEW**)
Take This Pill and Sell It!
Schedule Your Personal Safety Training Class Today!

Sunday Salon…3.22.09

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THERE IS A LAND
There is a land –
A marvelous land –
Where trolls and giants dwell;
Where witches
With their bitter brew
Can cast a magic spell;
Where mermaids sing,
Where carpets fly,
Where, in the midst of night,
Brownies dance
To cricket tunes;
And ghosts, all shivery and white,
Prowl and moan.
There is a land
Of magic folks and deeds,
And anyone
Can visit there
Who reads and reads and reads.

~ Leland B. Jacobs ~

Book Faery Adventures last week…

Books Read last week…

  • Almost a Bride by Jane Feathers
  • Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James
  • Angry Conversations with God by Susan E. Isaacs

Currently Reading…

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button read via daily e-mail snippets from DailyLit
  • Shattered Reality by Kimberly Elliott-Cheryl
  • A Truth Lies in the Dark by Kristine Callender

Borrowed Books still to Read…

  • Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters by Bill Turner
  • Nightseer by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red
  • Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James
  • Midnight Pleasures by Eloisa James
  • Fool for Love by Eloisa James

Cookbooks I’m checking out…

  • Desperation Dinners!
  • The Best Freezer Cookbook
  • Cheap.Fast.Good
  • Family Supper
  • Kid Shape Cafe
  • The Brown Bag Lunch Cookbook
  • Beyond Macaroni and Cheese

Books Received for Review…

  • How to Talk to Anyone About Anything by Jill Spiegel

Coming this week…

  • Author Guest Post, Book Review, and Giveaway: Shattered Reality by Kimberly Elliott-Cheryl
  • Book Review & Giveaway: The Truth Lies in the Dark by Kristin Callender

DON’T FORGET…The Book Faery Reviews plans to transition to our new location April 1st, 2009. Current subscribers shouldn’t miss a post and I’ll be reminding everyone of the change weekly til we move. Be on the lookout as there will be a book giveaway to kick off the new location.

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If you would like to participate or read other Sunday Salon Meme’s where members share their books click on the image above.

Author Guest Post: R. Scot Johns

the-saga-of-beowulf-bannerI am honored to have fantasy author, R. Scot Johns, guest post on The Book Faery Reviews today.  Before we get into Scot’s guest post about Fantasy Digital Art, here’s a tidbit about the author and his new book The Saga of Beowulf.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
R. Scot Johns is a life-long student of ancient and medieval literature, with an enduring fascination for Norse mythology and epic fantasy. He first came to Beowulf through his love of J. R. R. Tolkien, a leading scholar on the subject. As an Honors Medieval Literature major he has given lectures on such topics as the historical King Arthur and the construction of Stonehenge. He owns and operates Fantasy Castle Books, his own publishing imprint, and writes the blog Adventures of an Independent Author, where you can follow his progress as he writes The Jester’s Quest, his second novel.

You can visit his website at www.fantasycastlebooks.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK…
The Saga of Beowulf is the first complete and accurate novelization of the epic Old English poem Beowulf, chronicling the tragic wars of the rising Nordic nations, the endless blood-feuds of their clans, battles with mythic creatures in an ancient heroic age, and the final, futile struggle of one man against the will of Fate that made of him a Legend.

The story follows the young Norse warrior Beowulf as he embarks upon a fateful quest for vengeance against the creature that slew his father, setting in motion a sequence of events that will bring about the downfall of a nation, all the while fleeing from the woman he has sworn to love. Based on extensive historical research and steeped in Nordic myth and lore, the saga unfolds across the frozen fields of Sweden and the fetid fens of Denmark, ranging from the rocky heights of Geatland to the sprawling battlefields of ancient France, as our hero battles men and demons in a quest to conquer his own fears.

“An epic adventure 1500 years in the making,” this classic tale now comes to life once more in a bold new retelling for a modern audience.

Let’s now welcome R. Scot Johns as he talks about Digital Fantasy Art…

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Digital Fantasy Art

Originally I had intended The Saga of Beowulf to be a graphic novel. Not the kind the resembles an overgrown comic book, but one with a heavy dose of illustrations in the manner of those early 1900’s pen and inks by Arthur Rackham or Howard Pyle, with a heavy dose of Frank Frazetta thrown in for good measure. I’ve always loved artwork, almost as much as I love books, and seeing the two together is sheer bliss for me.

But as my composition grew, taking on the epic scale of the story it retells, there was less room left for art and more reliance on the imagination of the reader. Perhaps this is as it should be, for there is much to be said for letting the reader’s own mind fill in the subtle details, allowing them to shape the characters and settings to their own peculiar tastes. So it was that of all the many sketches I had done, intending them to grace the pages of my published novel, in the end only one found its way into print.

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I did this pen & ink initially in pencil, which I then scanned into my computer and inked in Corel Painter using a new digital pen tablet I bought for the purpose. I had done one test version in actual pen & ink, but discovered while adding in the text that I needed to alter the size and layout of the composition to make it fit. This proved to be one of the many advantages of digital over actual ink. Each of these elements were created on a separate layer, so that I could move them about and manipulate their size and shape. The manuscript, by the way, is an accurate facsimile of the actual Beowulf manuscript, in its original Old English hand, upon which the novel is based. That document, our sole source for this oldest of English epics, was penned in two different hands, the belief being generally held that the first scribe died before he could complete the tale, hence the ephemeral symbolism of the snuffed out candle and spilled ink jar.

But all books must have at least one major piece of full-color art, that which will grace its cover, and fantasy fiction is not the least conspicuous in this regard. I knew I wanted something fairly bright and bold, and my basic inspiration was drawn from a painting by Frazetta called Kane on the Golden Sea, which featured the muscular hero staring out across the bow of a Viking-style warship as they sail toward some unseen shore.

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Starting with a quick rough pencil sketch, again I scanned this into Painter and with my digital pen set to a light graphite I worked out the basic shape and perspective, roughing in the detail taken from the famous Oseberg Viking ship housed in the Oslo Ship Museum. The headstock was based, albeit rather loosely on a 5th century example found in a Dutch riverbed (see inset image).

After finalizing the details, I started in on the painting, using simulated oils with a fine camel-hair brush, working meticulously over the course of several weeks to build up texture and detail in layers. Again I created each element on a separate layer, ultimately reaching nearly fifty layers, including the background image. The overall process required roughly 300 hours over the course of more than six weeks of long daily sessions. In the end I ran short on both time and energy, as my prospective publication date drew ever nearer and my summer vacation came to an end.

ship-paint-beo-only-jpg-600xFor the titles I had originally created this header plaque, due to the fact that I had initially thought to use the dragon battle scene for the cover, with the fire-drake emerging from its cave. The logo lettering was drawn and inked by hand, in both a solid fill and outline version, then scanned into Photoshop, where I modeled it with over forty layers to create the jewel-inlaid-in-gold appearance. At this point you can see I was still considering it as an illustrated novel.picture2

However, for the final layout I dropped the faux-stone background and only used the letters, in order to balance the composition and show the background better. Here I’ve added a variation of the lettering for the spine, my publisher’s logo, and a blurb on the back, although the final ISBN block has not yet been comped in on this image.

Fantasy art has always played a major role in the initial impact a fantasy novel makes upon the reader, from prompting them to pick up the book in the first place to establishing the tone and imagery which sets them off upon their voyage. It was with that in mind that I decided upon the image of Beowulf and his men setting out across the roiling sea beneath a thunderous, brooding sky. It is my hope that in viewing the cover, the reader will know they’re headed for an adventure.

For higher resolution versions of these and other images, please visit www.fantasycastlebooks.com, where you can also read and download the first two chapters of The Saga of Beowulf and view two promotional video trailers featuring this art.

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Blessings

blessingsBlessings by Anna Quindlen

FROM THE WEBSITE”Blessings, the bestselling novel by the author of Black and Blue, One True Thing, Object Lessons, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life, begins when, late at night, a teenage couple drives up to the estate owned by Lydia Blessing and leaves a box.

In this instant, the world of the estate called Blessings is changed forever. The story of Skip Cuddy, the Blessings caretaker, who finds a baby asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep her, and of matriarch Lydia Blessing, who, for her own reasons, decides to help him, Blessings explores how the secrets of the past affect decisions and lives in the present; what makes a person, a life, legitimate or illegitimate, and who decides; the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community. This is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and personal change by the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer about whom The Washington Post Book World said, “Quindlen knows that all the things we ever will be can be found in some forgotten fragment of family.”

Readers Guide for Book Clubs

Visit Anna Quindlen’s website

FROM THE BOOK FAERY REVIEWS…I thoroughly enjoyed reading Quindlen’s novel Blessings. She creates each character with such life suited for their particular “lifestyle”. We watch a young man who finds hope within a small bundle that transforms his life forever. We become a fly on the wall learning about the family secrets of the Blessings estate and how it affects the lives of those impacted. You can’t help but feel for her characters as they battle their own inner struggles before they can reach some sort of peace. And at times you can’t help but want to slap or punch them into reality. My only disappointment at the end was that I wish the main characters from the Blessing estate remained a big part of the little girl’s life. Why must they leave when she had finally breathed love into their souls? Oh I DEFINITELY cried when the estranged teenage mother came to pick her up and he didn’t want to be in her life.  I kept thinking to myself, “Why aren’t you going to fight for her since she did just abandon her!” and “Why won’t you be part of this precious life?! She became so much of you!” Course we all know that book characters don’t always listen to us, right? But then if the main character hadn’t “walked away” then I would have expected him to stay all along and I wouldn’t have experienced as many emotions as I did at the end. It’s a reminder that not all stories end happily ever after. But then again, perhaps without this little blessing whom touched the lives of the estate mistress and her employee their own life would have remained lost from their own abandonments.