Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mt. To Be Read (as of Sunday, February 26)

The pile in the back is the true TBR pile, in no particular order, though I've actually started The Loom, on top. Just now I've reached my limit in the number of books I can have going at one time and decided to finish one or two before I resume The Loom. The pile in the front are books that I'm reading now. Though that's only one pile of them. Another Books In Progress pile lives on my desk, all research. 

How many of the books in my TBR pile have you read? Do you spot one that's so good I should move it straight to the top? 

I took a prettier, low light shot of Mt. TBR, which is more like what that spot looks like at bedtime when I reach for one or two, or three, of those books in the front pile. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Waiting (patiently)

I've been reading the well known devotional, Streams in the Desert, this year. And as I've long been in a season of waiting for writing and book related matters, I thought today's entry was very appropriate and wanted to share some of it here. It's a timely reminder for me. For anyone else who finds themselves in a season of waiting ... selah.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7
Patience eliminates worry. The Lord said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. 
Patience eliminates weeping. Why feel sad and discouraged? He knows your needs better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to receive more glory through it. 

Patience eliminates self-works. "The work of God is this: to believe" (John 6:29), and once you believe, you may know all is well. 

Patience eliminates all want. Perhaps your desire to receive what you want is stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled. 

Patience eliminates all weakness. Instead of thinking of waiting as being wasted time, realize that God is preparing His resources and strengthening you as well.

Patience eliminates all wobbling. God's foundations are steady, and when we have His patience within, we are steady while we wait. 

Patience yields worship. Sometimes the best part of praiseful waiting is experiencing "great endurance and patience... joyfully" (Col. 1:11).
While you wait, "let patience have her perfect work" (James 1:4), and you will be greatly enriched.

 photo credit: child by Leszek.Leszczynski; 
waiting dog by tinou bao; 
dog with cookie by trazomfreak. 
All via Flickr Creative Commons.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Writing Week: Feb 13-17

Another week, another chapter. Only one chapter? That sounds like such a slow pace, seeing as I spent at least four hours a day every day this week sitting here working (and more besides researching). But I had a few not so stellar writing days this week--you know those days when every word feels like a pint of blood drawn (utterly draining--heh heh). But I pushed through and finished a 4559 word chapter in the WIP. I actually wrote more than that, but spent all morning today whittling it down by over 500 words. I'd like to see it whittled further, but enough for now.

Research for the week:

~Schenectady, NY (anything and everything I can find, particularly the lay of the land round about. I'm in process of reading two books on Schenectady's history. Another on the way)
~ wild herbs and their medicinal uses (or what they were thought to be in the 1760s)
~ the Mohawk Valley general history
~ bateaux and bateau building on the Binne Kill in Schenectady

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Kind of Book

It's the day after Valentine's Day and I'm ready to fall in love. 

I've looked...

 I've flirted...
Throughout the pre-Civil War South, older slaves too worn out for anything else worked daily in the plantation's loom room, weaving and creating cloth for their families. Tucked away out of sight and forgotten by most everyone, the wisdom and hard-won experience of these slaves were often overlooked. But Lydia, a light-skinned house slave, listens to their words and dreams of a better life.
When running away leads to her recapture, Lydia discovers that with her pale skin, the right clothing, and pretense, she can walk into a world of freedom and wealth she has only dreamed of.
But Lydia struggles to leave behind the man she loves and the culture of a world in which she belongs. Drawing on the wise community in the plantation's loom room, Lydia chases freedom in a way no one ever expected and finds that she ultimately must choose between the love she had and the life she doesn't.
We've had our first date... the first few pages. I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. 

The Loom is Shella Gillus's debut novel.

*at CBD and Amazon the back clover blurb gives the main character's name as Sadie and focuses as much on a plantation owner's wife, Caroline. But the back cover copy of the book I have in my hand calls the main character Lydia, and makes no mention of Caroline. Both takes on the blurb (aside from the confusion over the main character's name) sound equally intriguing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Writing Week: Feb 6-10

Midway through January I began a new work in progress (WIP). I started it a few weeks earlier than I'd planned, but the first part of the WIP was vivid and nudging at me to get written, so I went ahead and did the research for that section first (focusing on Fort William Henry, but also the history of the entire French & Indian part of the Seven Years War), and wrote those scenes. My POV character is a major in the Royal Americans, a British Army regiment, who has the misfortune of being garrisoned at Fort William Henry in August of 1757.

This week I switched gears and began another section of the book that's told from another point of view (POV) character. She's fourteen years old in the first two chapters of her section. I've never written from the pov of such a young person before. It's been fun. Challenging. Thinking back to when I was fourteen only helps slightly, because this girl is not how I was then. She's strong willed. Determined. Full of righteous indignation over unfairness. Often too quick to judge (okay, I may have been this way too at fourteen). I've managed to write two chapters of hers this week (roughly 5,800 words in total), leaving spots in rough sketchy form and several [  ]s scattered throughout, pending further research on several topics.

Which brings me to a list of all the topics I have researched this week, along with the writing: 

~ The goings on militarily in New York and Canada in 1759, during the French & Indian War
~ The doings of various Iroquois tribes during the F&I War
~ The apothecary trade (just started researching this topic, which includes the time-consuming task of figuring out which books I need to request from the library or purchase on line. Much more learning to be done)
~ Schenectady, NY, circa 1750-1778 (more books on the way, so my research is still in the bud)
~ Blood letting as a medical practice
~ Welsh bows
~ Welsh accents and the rhythm of English as spoken by native Welsh

I'm pretty sure my current POV character, the fourteen year old, will have aged a couple of years by next week, when I pick up with her next chapter. How will she have matured? What about her will be the same? I look forward to discovering. 

From Stone Thrower's Son (working title):
Life at fourteen was pure vexation. How could it be otherwise, caught between girlhood and womanhood like a leaf snagged on driftwood, forced to bide and pray for a pitying eddy to nudge one along, while life’s river rushed merrily past? But Lydia Eve McClaren—fourteen’s latest victim—thought it really too much that she should have to look as awkward as she felt.

In the past twelvemonth her height had outstripped her weight. Her nose had got ahead of the rest of her face. And her hands, once so biddable, seemed intent on doing the reverse of whatever she meant them to do.

She yearned for fifteen. At times she even missed twelve, though she would jump in the Mohawk River in her shift before admitting as much.
Copyright 2012 Lori Benton

Monday, February 06, 2012

How To Do A Welsh Accent

I'm endlessly fascinated with and charmed by non-USA English speakers' accents. Scottish, Irish, New Zealanders, Welsh... the list is long. Which probably explains why many of the characters I write don't sound like I do when they speak.

Since my stories are set in the eighteenth century, either in the fledgling United States or (like my current work in progress) the Colonies, it's easy for my characters to be European transplants from one country or another, complete with their national flavor of the English language.

I've written quite a few characters with Scottish accents, and one or two with Irish accents. For my current WIP I decided several of my characters would hail from Wales.

For decades I've been a fan of The Brother Cadfael mysteries, a series of medieval mysteries written by the late Ellis Peters, featuring the intrepid and often loose-footed Welsh monk, Cadfael. But other than turning to those for a guide for rendering a Welsh accent in my character's dialogue (keeping as far away as I can from creatively phonetic misspellings that often hamper a reader in making sense of dialogue), I was at a loss for how to give a distinctively Welsh cadence to their speech. So I went Googling. And found this highly entertaining website:

How To Do A Welsh Accent

If you like what you see (and hear) here, then look to the right for many more short tutorials on various accents by voice coach Gareth Jameson. I'm not sure how helpful these videos will be in my attempt to render accented dialogue on the page, but I found them addictive, and thought I'd pass them along to anyone else who happens to be as fascinated by other people's accents as I am.

A few more examples:

How To Do A Scottish Accent
How To Do A French Accent
How To Do A Cockney Accent
How To Do A German Accent

Edited to Add: Looking for another example in published fiction in which the point of view character is Welsh? Look no farther than Faded Coat of Blue, by Owen Parry. It's set during the American Civil War, so it has a historical feel to it as well. Even though it's an American setting, Abel Jones is Welsh through and through. Even the narrative has a rhythm to it that, to my ear at least, sounds Welsh. 

Update: I've also picked up a copy of How Green Was My Valley, by Richard Llewellyn. I haven't finished this book so I can't recommend it as of yet, just offering it up as another possible source for writing a Welsh accent. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Three Upcoming Historical Novels

Still Life with Three Books by Vincent van Gogh, 1887
I just pre-ordered three books. This is a rare thing for me to do, but these upcoming historical novels have, for various reasons, caught my eye and I just can't wait my usual few weeks or months after a book debuts to finally get around to ordering a copy.

The first book is Love's Reckoning, by Laura Frantz, first in the Ballantyne Legacy, her new series (release date September 1, 2012). There's still no cover available, though I know for a fact that Laura at least has seen it, and is very happy with it. I am getting quite impatient for Revell to release the cover image to the world at large, having been privileged to read a first draft of the story. I can't wait to see what this new (to Laura) cover designer has come up with. I'll be sure to point the way to it whenever it makes its appearance. O frabjous day! 


The second book is Lisa Norato's Prize of My Heart (release date March 1, 2012). I've never read Lisa Norato's writing before. What captured me about this one is the story situation. Here's a blurb:

An unsolved mystery separates ex-privateersman Captain Brogan Talvis from his lost son--his only living relation, his only family. Shortly before her tragic demise, his wife abandoned their infant to strangers, refusing to reveal the child's whereabouts. Now, three years later, Brogan has discovered the boy at the home of a shipbuilder's daughter, Lorena Huntley.

Lorena guards a dark secret about her young charge. She finds herself falling for the heroic captain who has come to claim his newly built ship, unaware his motive for wooing her is to befriend the boy he plans on reclaiming as his own--until the day another's evil deceit leaves her helplessly shipbound, heading toward England.

As the perfect opportunity to reclaim his son unfolds, Brogan is haunted by thoughts of Lorena in her dire circumstance, and he is forced to make a heartrending choice between his child and the woman who has begun to capture his heart. But only his unselfish sacrifice can win him the greatest prize of all--love.
Since one of my recent historical manuscripts was set during the 1790s, not too far off the time period of this novel, I'm looking forward to soaking up the setting as well as the story.


The third book, Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond (release date July 3, 2012), had me at hello. By that I mean the cover. Just. Look. At. It. Then click on it for a larger view. Breathtaking!

After I got over staring at this marvelous cover, I read the story blurb on Casey Herringshaw's site.

I like this book even better now. I've never read Richmond. I hope to fall in love.

But isn't that how it always is with a new author, or a new book?

What books do you see on the horizon (releasing later this year) that you think might have that love affair potential? Any books you've lately fallen in love with? New authors? Tell me about them in the comments!

I still remember how it felt the first time I read Charles Martin's The Mountain Between Us. Sigh. Love at first page, that was.