Monthly Archives: February 2013

THE WOMAN NOVELIST AND OTHER STORIES by Diana Gardner

TheWomanNovelist&OtherStoriesLike GOODBYE MRS CRAVEN, Mollie Panter-Downes account of wartime Great Britain via short stories, Diana Gardner’s THE WOMAN NOVELIST AND OTHER STORIES, is also set in 1940s England.

But there the similarity ends, because Ms. Gardner’s stories have a very different quality from Ms Panter-Downes. Whereas the stories in GOODBYE MRS CRAVEN could best be described as a series of well-observed vignettes, the stories in THE WOMAN NOVELIST have more plot, and therefore more character development. THE LAND GIRL is a story of how a young woman manages the family she is staying with, so that the situation is more to her liking. MISS CARMICHAEL’S BED centers on a relationship between a lady and the woman who has come to work as her maid, and the mystery of what secrets the lady’s bed might contain. THE COUPLE FROM LONDON is about a mysterious death.

The tone of the writing is also very different. Ms. Panter-Downes writing has a definite attitude to it, one could almost say an edge, as her characters complain about various privations they have to undergo. Ms. Gardner’s stories are more gentle, more mild, and perhaps more even-handed. But it you wanted to be judgmental, you could also say that perhaps they are also less interesting than Ms. Panter-Downes because they lack her voice.

However, if you are interested in wartime Britain, or in English life in general, I recommend this volume. It is very British, and may shed some light on a country many people love, but don’t always understand. Four stars. A bookclub recommendation.

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News & Notes: My blog tour ends Friday!


TThwartedCreateFronthe HISTORICAL FICTION VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR for THWARTED QUEEN ends this Friday.

To end with a bang, I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway. Valued at $18.99, this paperback will be yours for FREE if you enter the giveaway.

Click below to enter for your FREE SIGNED copy of the paperback version of THWARTED QUEEN (all 495 pages).

Good luck and have a wonderful week!

CynthiaSignature

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Thwarted Queen

by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Giveaway ends March 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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Monday Craft Tips #6: Using your cognitive system to improve your prose style

Today, I thought I would pass on a tip for enriching your prose style. Pick about ten novels that you really love, settle down into a comfy nook and find 2 pages in these novels of really sparkling prose. Get out a notebook and copy these pages BY HAND. Please note that typing it into your computer is NOT allowed.

Why?

Because the whole point of this exercise is to get you to absorb high quality prose into your writing, without making your prose sound like a pale imitation of someone else’s. That’s why you’re only allowed two pages per novel.

Did I mention that each novel has to be by a different author?

The point of copying it out by hand, rather than typing, is because you want to allow your cognitive system to engage with the material. Putting on my cognitive science hat, I can tell you that although the cognitive system (the one to do with thinking, decision-making and memory) is very smart, it is also very SLOW.

Handwriting, slows down the rate of input into your mind, meaning that the cognitive system has a chance to grasp it. Whereas, if you type, your fingers will be going too fast for the cognitive system to really apprehend the words. And that is the whole point of this exercise, to get the cognitive system to absorb each prose style so that it will trickle down and make itself felt in your prose style.

Give it a try, and happy writing!

Have a wonderful week!

 


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Friday’s Internet Goodies: Flying Off The Shelves

InternetGoodiesBeth Negri is a 25-year-old woman who has loved reading books all her life. Here is how she describes herself:

This all started with my Mom, you see she is an avid reader who strongly values education. When I was a baby she would always read to me, even when I was in her womb. When I grew old enough and wanted to read when she wasn’t around she taught me how, even though this was a while before I started school. She taught me the love of reading and learning which is truly the best gift she ever gave me.
So, because of her here we are. I have started writing book reviews. I write book reviews because it gives you time to reflect on what you have read and in a way extends your time with the book. I feel that if it is a good book at the end of the book you are a little sad its over because you just love the characters and learning about them. Books, when written well, can be just the friend you are looking for because they give us a little escapism (into a new world) and a new understanding of life (through the characters trials).

FlyingOffTheShelvesFlying Off The Shelves has a rating system for books. Like most others, it is a 5-point system, meaning that a review that receives three stars or above has a positive review, while those that receive one or two stars have a negative review. Unlike most blog reviews, Ms. Negri is willing to consider a second opinion review for those authors who received low reviews.

Beth Negri will read most everything, EXCEPT the following: Children’s Books (Young Adult {16+} still accepted), Muslim fiction/non-fiction, Christian fiction/non-fiction, New Age, Self-help, Hate-Speech Books, Audiobooks. To find her site, point your browser to: http://flyingofftheshelves.blogspot.com/

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THE RUNAWAY by Elizabeth Anna Hart

TheRunawayTHE RUNAWAY by Elizabeth Anna Hart was originally published in 1872, and tells the tale of an excessively conscientious, well-brought up young lady named Clarice, and what happens when she comes across another young lady, Olga, whom she finds in the garden.

Kind-hearted Clarice, intrigued by her naughty guest, successfully hides her in her large rambling Victorian mansion. But what trials she undergoes. The worst is (gasp!) lying to her dear Papa. Then there is Olga herself, who is not a well-brought up young lady, but rather a mischievous sprite who seems unable to keep herself out of trouble. Instructed, repeatedly, by Clarice to sit still, Olga draws attention to herself by climbing on walls, trees, roofs, posing as a ghost, and generally creating a merry mayhem in Clarice’s quiet, serene and oh-so-respectable household.

The best part about this tale are the various descriptions of Olga. Here is how Mrs. Hart describes her when Olga first sees her:

A head slowly and cautiously protruded itself from among the bushes, a head covered with such short, crisp golden curls that for a moment she thought it must belong to a young and handsome boy, but the sweet little fair face was too entirely feminine, and with a push, a scramble, a jump, and almost a fall, a body followed the head, and a girl of about her own age, or perhaps younger, stood opposite to her, panting, blusing, laughing a little, and then putting her finger on her lips and saying “Hush! hide me; please hide me; hush!”

I thought this book charming, and a great way of learning about a forgotten age, Victorian England. Four stars. A bookclub recommendation.

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Monday Craft Tips #5: Doing warm-up exercises before tackling your work-in-progress

Word choice.

It is so important to us as writers to use words and to use them well. But how to you do that without getting horribly self-conscious and giving yourself a nice case of writer’s block?

What you shouldn’t do, is read your own work as if you were reading Chekhov. Or Nabokov. Or Hemingway. If I did that, I’d become so intimidated and self-conscious I would freeze up.

Writing craft or a writer’s technique has to be practiced away from the work in progress. It’s like doing Sevcik exercises for the violinist, or Czerny exercises for the pianist. You should start your practice (or daily writing stint) with craft exercises. Buy yourself a big dictionary and hunt for words. Pick up a grammar book and try some exercises for 5 minutes.  Do a daily (or almost daily) writing prompt. Sit in your chair and analyze your writing. What should you practice next? Words? Sentences? Paragraphs? Grammar? Then put that aside and get down to your work in progress.

But before you start your work in progress, imagine. Imagine that you are about to have the best time. You are going to be sly, manipulative and teasing. You will say the most outrageous things. You will be ambiguous. And with those thoughts in mind, start writing. Enjoy yourself. Let it flow. Then wait at least 24 hours before you put on your editor’s hat and analyze.

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Friday’s Internet Goodies: Ashley’s Bookshelf

InternetGoodiesAshley Wintters is not a professional book reviewer, as she is the first to admit on her Home Page:

This is my little place in cyberspace, I love to read and write, so here I write about what I read. I’m not a professional, just blog about what I am reading at the moment!

However, she provides a valuable service to the writing community by sharing her thoughts about the books she’s read, and also hosting author interviews on her site. To be considered for an interview, you just have to click on “Author Interviews” in the sidebar, answer her questions, and email them in.

AshleysBookshelfAshley is interested in reading many different kinds of genres. This is what she says:

Mainly I read Christian Fiction, but I do enjoy pretty much any type of book except horror and erotica.

Her interests include: children’s books, fantasy, historical romance, mystery, paranormal, suspense, thriller, urban fantasy, western and young adult.

To find her site, point your browser to: http://ashleysbookshelf.blogspot.com/

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In honor of Saint Valentine’s, I bring to you a 500-year-old tale of love

In honor of Saint Valentine’s Day, I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway of ROSE OF RABY, her ladyship’s volume that deals with her girlhood at Castle Raby, and her affair of the heart with a well-favored archer.

RoseOfRabyCreateFrontValued at $9.99, this paperback is my last copy, and might be yours if you enter the giveaway.

Click on the form at the right to enter for your FREE SIGNED copy of the paperback version of ROSE OF RABY.

Good luck and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

 

CynthiaSignature

 

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GOOD EVENING MRS CRAVEN by Mollie Panter-Downes

GoodEveningMrsCravenGOOD EVENING MRS CRAVEN by Mollie Panter-Downes is a series of wartime stories set in Britain during the Second World War. Like most British people, Ms. Panter-Downes writes fluently and well, and renders the ordinary world in closely observed snapshots. For example:

 

Everyone got wedged into the room somehow, bibs were hitched round necks, and a subterranean wheezing located Mrs. Parmenter’s little fellows right under their patron’s chair. Mrs. Ramsay, carving the lamb and listening to the nurses babbling of cardigan patterns, thought moodily that this kind of thing might go on for years.

 

Ms. Panter-Downes stories become darker as the war grinds on. GOODBYE MY LOVE is about the touching parting of a young man and a young woman. When the young man unexpectedly reappears, she bursts into floods of tears, because she will have to say ‘goodbye’ to him all over again. GOOD EVENING MRS. CRAVEN is about the heartbreak of being the ‘other woman’ when your man has gone off to war. Your man is not actually your man, and another woman is his wife, and the relationship is secret (or supposed to be so), getting any news is almost impossible. Unless you resort to subterfuge. THE HUNGER OF MISS BURTON tackles an issue that would have been all-too-familiar to the people who survived through that war. Miss Burton is adult and female, and as such is supposed not to take more than her fair share, leaving the leftovers for the children. But she is so hungry! IT’S THE REACTION is perhaps the saddest story of all, about another adult single female, who yearns for another bomb to drop so that her neighbors will come out of their shells and include her in their lives. Without a crisis, her life is so, so, heartbreakingly, lonely.

There is triviality mixed in with tragedy, pettiness with kindness and the usual day-to-day problems wound together with the reality of war. If you want to know more about the war, and what life was like, these stories provide a good introduction. But you won’t learn much about the characters who inhabit these stories. Though well-defined, they remain largely private. (How English.) Four stars.

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News & Notes: My blog tour starts today!

Everyone,

I’m taking ThwartedCreateFrontTHWARTED QUEEN on a HISTORICAL FICTION VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR today.

To start it with a bang, I’m doing a Goodreads Giveaway. Valued at $18.99, this paperback will be yours for FREE if you enter the giveaway.

Click below to enter for your FREE SIGNED copy of the paperback version of THWARTED QUEEN (all 495 pages).

Good luck and have a wonderful week!

CynthiaSignature

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Thwarted Queen

by Cynthia Sally Haggard

Giveaway ends February 14, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

 

 

 

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