Beginning Against the Grain

It seems like so many authors are striving to make their novel read like a television episode these days.

There was once a time when novels were made into shortened versions for television or movies that hit on the highlights of the book. Now books seem so tightened that they read like a television episode. Editors are queuing books to read like every other book.

Call me a rebel, but I am not sure if I like this change in literature. There seems to be so much lost in it.

Classics were often written with vast amounts of exposition that made us reflect over politics and the nature of humankind. Now there are forced action scenes and dialog on every page.

I have heard some editors tell authors that we must cater to an ADD/ADHD society that has a short attention span. Probably the result of copious amounts of television.

Rising action, climax, falling, and a resolution…over and over again take precedence over having any exposition at all. Start it moving and keep it moving. We have loped off the beginning of our books trying to be like all the other books.

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“Jane Eyre”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “A Tale of Two Cities”…just a few of my favorites. There are things the authors did that you don’t see often in popular fiction.

I have read a few quick crime novels and romance novels in the past few months. I honestly did not like them well enough to offer a review. Important elements in the initial situations were missing. The action started before I could care about the characters or their life situations.

Initial Situation

i: Characters: Who are the central characters?  What do they aspire to?
ii. Setting: Where/when do the characters live? Does the setting contribute to the narrative?
iii. Conflicts: What are the challenges facing the protagonist(s)? What are the conflict(s) that he or she (or they) will have to overcome?

The beginning is often called the introduction or exposition. By establishing the characters, setting and initial conflicts, the beginning “sets the scene” for the rest of the narrative. Dickens’ famous opening line in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is a classic piece of exposition that helps establish the social and political background of the novel.

Dicken’s set the theme with one sentence. I am not asking for three chapters (though sometimes that is actually nice IMHO), but at least give me that much.

I don’t like the direction contemporary literature seems to be going. It is the vast quantity that sells. The mass marketing television episodes of genre fiction.

I watch very little television for a reason. Give me something interesting to read, not a carbon copy of every other novel out there.

May Issues of Fleet Life and EHD

Rosie Amber has a feature on books in Fleet Life online magazine which as won best local magazine awards in the UK. Take a look. She features Red clay and Roses this month. Thank you Rosie for your continued support to authors and promoting our works.

Rosie Amber

The May issues of both the local magazines that I wrote for are now out online, these are great opportunities for authors with approximately 7000 paper issues of the magazine being printed and online versions with endless numbers of potential readers.

Fleet Life is showcasing the following books – go to http://www.fleetkife.org.uk, click on the online directory and turn to page 14.

www.fleetlife.org.uk http://www.fleetlife.org.uk

Greening of A heart by Stepheny Houghtlin, Overlanding, How, What, Where and With Who by Andy N. Robinson and Kirsty McGregor, The Nosferatu Scroll by James Becker, The Royal Descendant by John P Ford and Red Clay and Roses by S.K.Nicholls.

The Elvetham Heath Directory has its set of books too. http://www.ehd.org.uk, click on the online directory and find my review on page 6.

www.ehd.org.uk http://www.ehd.org.uk

Hostile Witness by Rebecca Forster, Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando, Dawning by Olivia Stocum, The Orphan & The Thief by…

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Pool is Open!

The pool finally hit the 86 degree mark, which is the coolest temperature I can tolerate. The chemicals are all balanced; it is clean, and ready to dive into. Two years ago I lost thirty pounds swimming every day. I would swim laps back and forth across the pool for thirty minutes to an hour and a half…weekends included. We don’t skinny dip…we chunky dunk.

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Last year I had a bout with frozen shoulder, adhesive capsulitis. It was too painful to swim and I spent the summer in physical therapy. I also gained back ten of the thirty pounds I had lost.

My eating habits and food choices are good, but psychotropic meds and sedentary lifestyle don’t help. I use a glycemic index diet. It is a bit stricter than Atkins in some ways, but more lenient in others. You can have carbs, but they must meet 55 or less on the glycemic index (unless they have an extremely high nutrient content, like sweet potatoes and watermelon). I have used it so long that I know now what is allowed and disallowed, so it is easy to follow.

Almost all writers are plagued by sedentary lifestyle. During the winter and early spring, I was seated at the computer most all day, and into the night. I have decided to ride my bike to the produce market once or twice each week. It is too hot to walk.

We sold our treadmill and stationary bikes. They were taking up too much room and were not being put to use…despite being under the air-conditioning.

I do a significant amount of housework and gardening, which keeps me moving, but probably doesn’t burn off the calories that I would like to burn. I can’t deny that I am a bit lazy when it comes to workout routine discipline, but I do enjoy swimming.

What are you doing to stay in shape this season? Many Florida homes have pools.

Do you have a gym nearby?

Wish me luck!

Traps: Our Latest Bipolar Moment

Though I don’t dwell on it, I have made no secret of my affliction with mental illness. I don’t like it when people stigmatize mental illness by using it as an excuse to behave stupidly. Yet, part of my coping mechanism is to cry laugh at myself when I do. Laughter is far more effective in many instances than meds or therapy ever could be.

My husband is also bipolar, so the two of us can get into serious trouble. Even on medications. We don’t have healthy boundaries. Someone hurts our bitty feelings and we’ll be morbidly depressed for weeks. A tiny triumph and we are ready to take on the world.

I am not trying to belittle the agony mental illness can cause. I am no stranger to that either. My mother, severely depressed, committed suicide because she believed she had cursed my father’s unborn child when it was born with deformities and died. My first cousin offed herself after a manic episode in which she cashed all of her husband’s savings bonds and ran up $50,000 in credit card debt trying to redecorate and furnish her house. I worked psychiatry for years and saw families and lives ruined, slaughtered by this disorder. It is one of the most damaging and consequential disorders in the DSM-V.

This is real life heavy duty crap.

And yet I laugh.

People who know avoid you. It changes how you are perceived. People don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to talk about it. Yes, it is disturbing. It is the sad truth. People are afraid. One in four Americans is mentally ill. Those are just the ones who are officially diagnosed and treated. The other ones, who aren’t, scare me more.

Please! Tell me you can’t check off on a few of these:

Manic phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Risky behavior
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
  • Poor performance at work or school

Depressive phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school

Anyway, if you can check off on a lot of these you should probably get yourself some help. If you already have, good for you! I did. My husband did. But there is really no way to totally avoid symptoms, so we have learned to laugh. I am happy we found each other. Now we can laugh together, and put each other in check.

What do we find to laugh about, you ask?

We laughed when we bought a cabin cruiser on first sight without a surveyor’s inspection, and one of the motors blew up on its maiden voyage.

That was a bipolar moment. We already had a boat, like we needed two. We don’t even live on the water; it’s moored 150 miles away growing barnacles.

We laughed when my husband sent $500.00 to China via Western Union for some iPads we just had to have before a vacation. No, they never came, but the rocket scientist and some guy in Beijing exchanged emails for weeks in broken English.

That was a bipolar moment.

I once painted every room in the house beige before realizing it was pink, which required a repaint of every room in the house neutral.

That was probably a bipolar moment, or two, or three.

And our latest bipolar moment: Our dog was attacked by raccoon. We think (we don’t even know). She had a seven inch gash in her chest requiring anesthesia and sutures. So we hired a trapper to come to our home to catch the varmints…for $500.00. He set out three traps with “protein” bait for three weeks.

Traps are $17.00 at Ace Hardware. Vienna sausages are less than a buck a can.

Ha, ha, ha! Could that have been a bipolar moment?

That was a week ago. Maybe the dog scared them all off. This is our haul so far:

traps 001

 

Humor is one of the most effective coping mechanisms. Let us laugh.

Yes, sometimes the meds need tweaking. Laughter really can be the best medicine.

So laugh with me.

Sunday Synopsis: The Beginning, The Middle, and The End.

 

The Arrow and the Song

BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

I shot an arrow into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For, so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

 

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For who has sight so keen and strong,

That it can follow the flight of song?

 

Long, long afterward, in an oak

I found the arrow, still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.

 

I was chatting with a dear friend on Facebook. She has the beginning and ending of her WIP. I have the middle of mine all planned out, but have rewritten the beginning more than a few times, and have no clue how this thing is going to end up.

I have decided to stop rewriting the beginning.

It may not be perfect or final, but I need to let it go.

Part of the fun in writing is having the characters surprise me, so I am going to stop fretting about how to end this piece.

Unconscious competence seems so elusive. I am going to continue writing with conscious incompetence…but STOP worrying about it. It is the only way I am going to be able to proceed. I wrote my last book with unconscious competence, on talent and what skill I had at the time, and did fairly well with it.

I have no clue what I am going to do with this WIP. It is a story that I wish to tell. I know that many say you have to keep in mind that you are writing for a reader audience, and I appreciate my audience, truly I do. On the other hand, when I get myself wrapped up in what others might think, I lose the ability to write freely.

So I am writing this one for me, freely, come what may of it.

keep-aiming

Penny for your thoughts!

Voices of Nature Blog Tour

Stars Above (alouette)

Starry nights shine bright
Thousands of wee lights
Constellations light the sky
Darkness shows contrast
While clouds have gone past
Suspended in time up high

Pisces and Leo
Taurus and Virgo
Constellations light the sky
Sagittarius
Libra, Pegasus
Worlds of tiny lights float by

©2014 Poetry by Pamela, all rights reserved.

This is just a sample of the poetry you will find in Voices of Nature. There are dozens more poems for you to savor.

http://www.amazon.com/Voices-Nature-Pamela-Beckford-ebook/dp/B00JCRWVJU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396531395&sr=8-1&keywords=voices+of+nature+by+pamela+beckford

You can buy it here for only $.99 for Kindle – it also available in paperback ($7.19) on Amazon.

Poetry gives voice to what the eyes see and the heart hears.

Inspiration exists all around us. Beauty can be found in the laughter of a child or the blooms of a tree. Poems are one person’s interpretation of the world seen through their eyes and felt in their heart. Poetry is soul food – plain and simple.

Voices of Nature is a collection of poems that reflect the inherent splendor of nature all around us. This book utilizes a variety of poetry forms to paint word pictures.

One review said “The sheer variety of styles in this poetry book is amazing. Haiku, triple haiku, acrostic, rondeau, and so many others. Even better is that they explain the poems in the back, which is a great service to the curious reader.

Each poem is clear and paints a perfect picture of nature. Though, I have an odd feeling that both poets were tired of winter since that had the most amount of poems out of the season sections. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I did love the ‘Thunder and Lightning’ acrostic for the imagery and ‘New Day’ for the complicated style and bringing an odd sense of serene closure to the book.

I would highly recommend this poetry book. Even if you’re not into poetry, the pieces for every season will probably have you going ‘I thought the same thing.’

Pamela previously released a collection of love poems titled Dreams of Love with several five star reviews. She has been writing for a short time, but pours her soul into her poetry.
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Kirsten collaborated on a collection called Hope’s Flight.
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This is a collection created by two poets – Pamela B and Kirsten A.
Both women enjoy exploring various topics and poetry forms. Many forms are represented in Voices of Nature (along with a short description of the forms for your convenience). Buy Voices of Nature for only $.99 today and experience the wonders all around us.

Be an Honourary Dilettante!

Helen and PennyShow The Dilettante some LOVE!

There is a new book out:  “Memoirs of a Dilettante” is a collection of reminiscences, following Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who will try anything just to say that she has, and her twenty-something niece, who she has dubbed the Countess Penelope of Arcadia, in their off-beat antics in such places as common as the local McDonald’s or the comic book store, to their travels to Miami for the search for the perfect Cuban sandwich. Interspersed between wacky one-off adventures, Helena tells personal, sometimes painful stories from her past in order to try and make sense of her life as it has played out, tempering everything with an indomitable sense of humour.

Cummerbund Bandersnatch, the Accidental Plagiarist, strippers, rock stars, geeks, freaks, and the Barista With No Name — these are just a few of the characters you’ll meet inside.

 

What people are saying:

“A creative, delicious romp through the life of your favorite dilettante. I loved the use of footnotes, not to be missed for their hilarious snark. The pictures added a lot to the story as well. Even though the book appears to be a disjointed series of tales on its face, it wraps up with a poignant point that you realize was there all along. Helena lives life. She teaches her niece to do likewise. That she never met a situation that she wouldn’t try is invigorating. Her self-deprecation is funny. Her roundabout methods of storytelling are endearing.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes to smile when they read. To anyone who loves Star Wars and John Hughes. Especially to anyone who wants to hum along while they read. (Morrissey, Jeff Buckley, the list is endless. This book should have a soundtrack.)”

 

“Reading Memoirs of a Dilettante is like being let in on a series of inside jokes. The flamboyant language and often ridiculous scenarios are told in a rollicking style that is a pleasure to read in itself. The stories range from humorous to heartfelt and it’s hard to choose which one Helena Hann-Basquiat does better.”

 

She has a contest running through August that you can read more about by clicking on the image below!

contest

 

Better yet, go here and grab yourself a copy!

Today is Red Hat Society Day and I could think of no better day than to fulfill a promise to my dear friend Helena Hann-Basquiat. Being such an adventurous dilettante makes her a prime candidate for the Red Hat Society when she fully matures.

Heln's book 037

I don’t know how young she is, but I have already earned my red hat, and I promised Helena a picture of me nude in my red hat and black boa for her contest.
We are all young in spirit!

Please don’t think I am finished, darling!

 I plan to read all three books, review them, and do a complete video once I master how that is done.

Helena also writes creepy scary under the name Jessica B. Bell!

If you would like to know more about The Red Hat Society Google it. We are a bunch of over fifty, crazy ladies who, like the dilettante, are not afraid to try anything at least once. We dance in malls, bet on Jai Alai & horses, tuck  $$$ in g-strings on male strippers at FACE Club and support each other through the trials and tribulations that are life.