Friday, November 26, 2010

The Jane Austen AGM, Portland, OR

What's an AGM, you ask?
It's the Annual General Meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, and I, now a faithful member, got to go this past October, even though it meant flying across the country to do so. My long-suffering husband came along. (I was able to enjoy the AGM while he got to enjoy Oregon scenery.)

I took so many photos that I actually got TIRED of taking them. But the outfits were exquisite. Of the 600 or so people who attended, roughly 300 or more were in costume. During the Regency ball, there was hardly a second when I wasn't smiling at the thrill of being there. The dancing was marvelous, and having a small "orchestra" (just as they did during the regency) was sublime.

The following lovely photographs are only a sampling of the many we took (Mike helped), to whet your appetite for the full slide-show which is in the works.
If you are in one of them and can identify yourself for the rest of us, please do so. (Use the comment form) If you recognize a friend or colleague in one, please forward them the link so they can see it for themselves.

People in costume are always pleased to be photographed, as they should be. The workmanship (or should I say, tailoring) in many of the gowns, spencers, bonnets, even reticules, was definitely 'of the first water.'

This was my first AGM, and I think I'm hooked. Next year's will be in NYC, and I hope by then to join the number in period dress. What fun!

To learn more about JASNA or to join, check out their website here.

I have many more photos to share with you, so stay tuned. I'm working on a slide-show with accompanying music which should be really fun.
See you soon!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to the U.S.!

I wish my readers and fellow writers from or in the US a blessed and restful day of thanks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Color-Coded Schedule

If you write full-time from home, you still need to follow a schedule as those who work outside the home must--at least, they should if they want to accomplish the most important things as well as the urgent ones.

Without a schedule, beginning with my to-do list, I'm sunk.
I go back to my list many times a day, making sure I've given priority to those things I marked with a RED pencil (most important tasks).
Next I do the GREEN things--work or income related.

After that, I move on to yellow. Yellow items are neat things that are good to do, but if I don't get to it, my credit rating won't be affected, and my house won't burn down. You get the idea.

Last is orange--things I'd like to do, hope to do someday, and want to keep on my radar screen. If I can, I put an Orange item on my daily list, but oftentimes I know better. I keep a list of ORANGE items and scan them quickly a couple of times a week to see if I can fit one in. Every now and then, I can, and this adds to my enjoyment of life. ORANGE items don't give me the sense of professional accomplishment that red or green items do, but in some ways they are even more important.

An ORANGE item might be "fix the ripped wall paper in the den." But when I finish it, I get a great feeling. It could also be "check out the new store in town."
It may not get my book written, but it gives me important down time so that when I get back to writing, maybe I can do it with a little more peace in my soul.

Try using the color system for your daily "to do" lists and see if it helps.
To be honest, I like using the colors, the colored pencils, and that, in itself, makes me want to finish things on my list! How about you?

But the noble man devises noble plans;
And by noble plans he stands.
Is.32:8 NASB

Note: I got my color system ideas from Trapper and Mark
Woods. They're book entitled Attack Your Day: Before it Attacks You explains the system in much more detail.
Clock image from Fairy-Flowers

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wisdom from An Agent

This is from Literary Agent Jean V. Naggar, who was asked: Do you think this (current) market has changed what editors are looking for?

She answered: "It's simple. Editors are looking for fresh, original material in perfect condition. Dramatic pace, writing quality, and clarity of thought trumps any particular trend, and my recommendation to writers today is to listen to their agent if the agent is requesting more work be done before showing a manuscript to eitors. Editors today are heavily bound up in meetings and other requirements, and showing them a strong national platform and a manuscript that is almost ready for the printer is the best way to get their attention."

Good reminder for all of us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Naming Your Fictional Character

Naming Your Fictional Character
by Linore Rose Burkard

Do you struggle to find the right name for a character when writing? Is there
such a thing as a "right" name? And if there is, how do you know when you've
found it?

The answer to these questions can only be subjective, but here's my personal take
on them, as well as some of my favorite ways to find names when I need them.

First of all, I think most writers do struggle at times with naming one or more
characters. If you've never struggled with this, be grateful. If you have, it
probably means that you had a good idea about the sort of character you
were naming, and you were smart enough to recognize that not just any ol' name would do.

When I am in need of just the 'right' name for a character, I usually use a stand-in or temporary
name until I find the right one. (The temporary name isn't important, so use whatever you like,
but I would avoid going with "Character A" and "Character B"--these are cardboard-flat names and
won't help you envision your character at all.) If you get really stuck on what the "right" name
should be, it may help you to do some further brainstorming about that character. The better you
get to know this person, the easier it will be to settle upon a name that feels right.

One of my tricks is to search catalogs with lots of models (both male and female) until I find a face
that really matches my idea for a person. Once I have a face, I can usually decide upon a name.
Some writers use baby name books, but I don't find these helpful until I have a face in mind, first. I also find
that movie credits sometimes contain wonderful names. I never borrow anyone's full name, but I find
both a first name and a surname that I like, and combine them to get that "just right" name for
my character.

Each writer really needs to find what works for them.

Secondly, is there such a thing as a "right" name? A "wrong" one?
Again, this is partly subjective, but in some cases, such as with historical novels, it is more
a matter of being period-correct.

Some things to consider when choosing a name are:

a) Will it make the reader stumble each time they encounter it? Some historical novelists choose names
that are period-correct but impossible to pronounce unless you "know" that period. Don't make reading
your book a chore! Find a name that is both correct for the time and place of your novel, while also
going easy on readers. If you must use an obscure name, or one that has an obscure spelling, use another
character to let us know exactly how the name should be read.

b) Check that the name was in existence for the period you are writing in. Many authors check to see
if the name was popular during a given period, but this is not necessary in many cases. The fact that it existed
is technically all you need to know; however, when naming a Puritan, you wouldn't want to try something
like "Crystal" when names such as Mary, Patience, and Charity were really the vogue. If you were trying
to emphasize the singularity of a character, the difference between him and her and the average person
of the world they live in, then a very different-sounding name might be just right, however.
So, the story-line plays a part in naming.

c) I'll never forget this lesson from T.S. Eliot: He wrote a heart-tugging poem called, "The Love Song of
J. Alfred Prufrock." Say that name aloud! It is anything but romantic, anything but what one would
associate with a love song, and the poem indeed conveys Prufrock's utter inability to "sing" one, even
when opportunity and desire are there. Eliot named this character carefully. The awkward name emphasizes
the pathos of the character. Can you do this in your fiction?

It's not by accident that romance writers try to choose pretty, or exotic, or smooth-sounding names for
their heros and heroines. Give a girl a pretty name, and it's easier to see her as attractive. Give a hero
a strong name, and it's easier to see him as strong.

Interestingly, you might want to choose the name for your villain as carefully
as for the hero or heroine. A villain often disguises him or herself as a hero or heroine, at least for some
portion of a book, and until they are found out, a beautiful name will go far to fool the reader. Conversely,
an uncertain name, one that is not particularly evocative or attractive (think: Clark Kent) can be used
to de-emphasize the real hero or heroine until they are revealed for their true colors later in the book.

There's also the idea that evil can appear beautiful, and a lovely name for a villain can make for
fun reading. In my book, The House in Grosvenor Square, the good-looking villain's name is Lord Wingate, or Julian.
Neither sound ominous, but "Julian" has a sort of mysterious air to it, which I think supports the character's

You shouldn't need to obsess over naming a character, for it is much easier to get a "right" name than
a wrong one. Only historical novels can objectively be accused of having a "wrong" name--either for their
time or place--but do try to fit the appellation with the person. Get something that fits. Give a pretty girl
a pretty name, and a hero a strong name--unless it is part of their appeal or story that they have a "wrong" name and triumph anyway
(such as in the Johnny Cash song, " A Boy Named Sue").

Above all, have fun naming your characters! Find a method you like, whether it be an internet search,
a baby-name book, movie credits, or any other source, and have at it. Experiment with different names for the
same character if you're just not sure, and see what sits best with you. Eventually, you will find the "right" name
for each character, and your book will be stronger for it.

All rights reserved. You may copy this article only if you use it in its entirety and include "written by Linore Rose Burkard" AND link to the website:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Top of my TBR pile

At the top of my TBR pile is a just-released book called
THE MASTER'S WALL by Sandi Rog. It's set in 1st century Jerusalem
and is the debut book by this author, already getting great reviews.
(One reviewer said, "This is the BEST book I have EVER read!")

But I have to confess a more personal reason for moving
this book to the top: Sandi Rog is a mom of four young kids and has MS, and, as if
that isn't hard enough, her MS medication caused her to develop
a cancerous lymphoma--in her brain.
She's in the hospital right now undergoing treatment.

Some of us who know Sandi asked what we could do to help, and
she let us know that her publisher is donating $1 from each and
every book sale to a fund for Sandi's medical bills. So, I'd like to
respectfully suggest that if Biblical-era fiction appeals to you (think Romans,
Roman empire, Herod, etc.) then please consider adding Sandi's book
THE MASTER'S WALL to your TBR pile.

It's available at Amazon and other booksellers and won't break the bank. : )
It's also available as a KINDLE ebook (which can be read on any e-reader).

Here's the book blurb:
HE FIGHTS FOR HIS FREEDOM. SHE FIGHTS FOR HER LIFE. TOGETHER, THEY FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER. After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master's granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.

“It's a grand thing to find an intriguing story told by a talented storyteller, and that's just what we have in The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog. This story has it all: ancient Rome, authentically depicted; a hero worth rooting for; and a feisty, charming heroine—all flowing through a rousting tale beautifully spun. Rog—and every reader—has a winner with this one.”

ROBERT LIPARULO, best-selling author of Comes a Horseman, Germ, and the Dreamhouse Kings series

"Powerful, faith-challenging, epic in nature, The Master’s Wall beckons readers to ancient Rome where Sandi Rog delivers a captivating story that transforms lives––and not only those of her characters. Highly recommended!"

TAMERA ALEXANDER, bestselling author of Within My Heart (Bethany House Publishers) and The Inheritance (Women of Faith Fiction, Thomas Nelson)

". . . If you love gladiator scenes—you’ll love this book. If you enjoy coming-of-age stories, you’ll enjoy Alethea’s journey from girlhood to adult. If you thrive on romances, the sweet love story will grasp your heart. A must read for all the right reasons. “ DARLENE FRANKLIN, The Prodigal Patriot

Once again, here's the Amazon link to the paperback.

Thanks so much for letting me post this here, and if you choose to help Sandi
by getting her book, God bless you tenfold in return!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Writer's Quote

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist. - Isaac Asimov, science fiction author

(Thanks John Kremer for the quote).