Alice’s Restaurant

March 28, 2007

“I Could Be a Writer”

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 8:31 am

This one is for Nancy.

Did you really think this was going to be easy?  Just because Nora whips out half a dozen books a year and you can type 60 words per minute doesn’t mean you can write a book in six weeks.

Yes, I did it, but it wasn’t as long of a book and I already had one complete and years of experience under my belt.  It wasn’t a whole new experience for me.  Nor will that book ever see the light of day.  There wasn’t enough good about it to make it worth revising.

No!  I’m not saying you should quit!  Unless you’re going to be lazy about this.  If you aren’t willing to put in the work, then yeah, save yourself the heart ache.  Because if you aren’t willing to do what ever it takes — and you’ve already proven you aren’t any more talented than I am so it’ll take a lot — then you aren’t going to get anywhere.

Sometimes it feels like everything is either on or off with you.  First it’s gun-ho charge-ahead and get it done, which is all very well except you won’t listen to me then.  Then it’s “I’m not worthy” and “This reeks!” which not only isn’t true, it’s also a time when you won’t listen to me!  Why on earth do you want my critique if you won’t use it!  To be honest, I’d rather be working on my own stuff.

So you’ve gotten lost in the choices.  Frankly, I don’t think the hero’s hair color is all that important.  Whether or not he’s going to murder his uncle, yes I’d say that’s important.  If you didn’t want to deal with the problem of keeping him sympathetic while forcing him to do a heinous act on someone who really does deserve it, then you shouldn’t have set the story up that way in the first place.  Nor do you HAVE to write it that way.  Yes, it’s the most exciting part of the book, but hardly what the book is all about.  Hello.  Remember the heroine?  And no, I’m not saying she should be the one to kill the uncle.

What I’m saying is that you’ve got some structural problems.  Big whoop.  Deal with it.  How many times have I scarped off the last third of the book – we are talking tens of thousands of words each time here – just because they didn’t get the job done?  Trust me, it’s only a big problem if you make it one.  If you really want to make this thing a best seller, you’ll do it.

I’m sorry I didn’t say it more nicely, but I still think the part in the middle is boring.  You still don’t think fiction is about emotion, do you.  Well, I didn’t either for years and years and you can really see it in my work.  And no, that melodramatic drivel in the fifth chapter is NOT what I mean about emotion.  I mean the emotion you create in the reader, not what you slap on to the characters.

Yes, I said drivel and I stand by it.  Come on, you said yourself you don’t like it.  Why do you expect me to?  It’s just one little passage you spliced in.  Take it out.

I can just see your expression now.  Would you calm down!  Just because that little bit of the chapter isn’t good doesn’t mean you have to throw out the whole thing.  Next you’ll be back to the “I’m not worthy” thing and throwing out the whole book.  You’ll never write that best seller your after if you keep chucking the whole book.  You aren’t going to get this thing done at all if you don’t sit down and do it. 

Nora really hit the nail on the head when she said she can fix anything except a blank page.  Yes, I know that Howard something or other guy always wrote once and never revised.  But remember his editor said he always rolled the story around in his mind for years before he wrote anything, and they were only short stories.  Quit trying to encase your words in amber.  We aren’t talking stone tablets here.  They can easily be changed later.

No, I don’t know that this is going to be the one.  It’s your first book!  Sheesh.  It’s like insisting you have to get married to the first person you date.  Maybe you should, and maybe you shouldn’t.  All I know is that you CAN’T write a best seller if you never finish anything.  Even if this frog never does turn into a prince, you have to kiss him to find out.  Finish the book, put as much into revision as you can stand, and keep moving.  I mean you should start on the next book soon.

And that thing I said about smiling and saying “go for it” to those annoying wannabes who belittle the effort I’ve put into this, I meant it.  But I didn’t mean you!  Yes, encouraging people to write is unkind.  But I don’t do it out of spite.  I honestly want everyone to succeed at this.  Misery loves company?  Maybe.  But if you’re still willing to go for it, I’m still there for you.

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Alice

March 27, 2007

Quick Quote

Filed under: Quick Quotes, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 3:19 pm

Mr. Al regarding the need to delete scenes from our books:

 “It’s so hard to strangle our babie.”

Groan

Filed under: From the Mail Bag — aliceaudrey @ 12:06 am

I know I shouldn’t inflict these on you just because someone inflicted them on me, but….  Oh well.  😀

 (1) King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the   Euphrates , the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, “I’ll give you 100,000 dinars for it.” “But I paid a million dinars for it,”   the King protested. “Don’t you know who I am? I am the king!” Croesus replied, “When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are.”

(2) Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. However, all the Swiss league records were unfortunately   destroyed in a fire, and we’ll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

(3) A man rushed into a busy doctor’s office and shouted “Doctor! I think   I’m shrinking!!” The doctor calmly responded, “Now, settle down. You’ll just have to be a little patient.”

(4) A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them.  Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

(5) Back in the 1800s the Tates Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products and, since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California . This, of course, is the origin of the expression, “He who has a Tates is lost!”

(6) A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, “We have absolutely nothing to go on.”

(7) An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, “The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on.”

(8) A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official who apologized profusely saying, “I must have taken Leif off my census.”

(9) There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant, and the first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This goes to prove that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

(10) A skeptical anthropologist was cataloging South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal brujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the brujo looked him in the eye and said, “Let me tell you, with fronds like these, who needs enemas?”
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Alice

March 25, 2007

Mr. Al’s first Tudor Thingy

Filed under: Guest Blogs, Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:20 am

It occurs to me that some of you may not have seen Mr. Al’s first post, which he put in FanLit Forever instead of sending to me, his dear wife who specifically asked for it.  So here it is:

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I don’t know what happened, I’ve been possessed by an imp or something. No one is willing to talk movies so now you all are gonna get a history lesson! You brought it on yourselves. Grin

The Henry story went like this. Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon. From Henrys viewpoint, things just weren’t working out. He sought an annulment on the grounds that the marriage wasn’t legal from the get -go because Catherine was the widow of his older brother. The Bible, Henry pointed out, forbade such a union. The fact that this was pointed out to Henry, repeatedly, by influential persons, before he married her only convinced Henry that he was onto a winning strategy.

But there was a hitch.

His problem with Catherine was that she had not, and apparently could not, produce a male heir. This was a pet project of Henry’s that he was, perhaps, a bit more attached too than was wise. They did have a child, a girl, Mary. But that wasn’t good enough for Henry. He wanted a son.
He wanted to put Catherine aside in favor of a woman who could give what he wanted.
Henry was so fixated on a male heir that he had apparently forgotten that girls could become supreme monarchs. There had never before been an English queen as sole monarch, but there was no law against it. As there was in France. A lot of people seemed to have overlooked that legal tidbit. But there was one fellow who hadn’t.

Charles the V had ascended the throne of Holy Roman Emperor. Charles was also Catherine’s nephew. While he bore his aunt no great affection, he WAS rather attached to the idea of her remaining queen. Should Henry choke on his roast beef during one of his legendary food orgies, his cousin Mary would become Supreme Monarch of England. There was a first time for everything, Charles reasoned. And he had English law on his side. Even if the English didn’t realize it. Charles was opposed to a divorce. In a perfect world this would not have mattered because Charles was only an emperor, not the Pope. And the Pope was the fellow Henry had to win over.

But there was a hitch.

Pope Clement the VII was a reasonable man on the issue of royal divorces. Henry also had a legal precedent on his side in the form of the divorce of Louis the XII of France and Margaret of Scotland. With the other issues, Cardinal Wolsey assured Henry, that the whole matter was a done deal. And not a moment too soon for Henry, because he had his eye on a Sweet Young Thing he had met in France.

Anne Boleyn has been portrayed by historians as everything from a complete naïf who got in over her head, to an arch-schemer who seduced Henry and manipulated him to her own ends. Neither is true. She met Henry while serving as a lady in waiting to the queen of France The occasion was the meeting of Henry and King Francis on the Field of Cloth of Gold. The meeting was held in the hope that it would reduce tensions between England and France, so they could concentrate on that pushy emperor, Charles.

She must have had something special to have caught Henry’s attention. Perhaps her witty repartee,
“Oh Henry, you scoundrel, is that a cod in your codpiece, or are you just happy to see me?”
(She didn’t really say that.)
But catch his attention she did! And Henry convinced himself that she was the ticket to the boy babies he wanted so badly. All he had to do was get rid of Cathy. And that’s where the hitch developed. Pope Clement was ready to fix things, but before he could, King Francis and Charles got into a spat. Clement backed Francis, Francis lost. Charles invaded Italy and made his army at home outside the Vatican. OOPS. At this point, Cardinal Wolsey sends a friendly letter to Clement reminding him to take care of the little matter they had discussed earlier. This put Clement in a very uncomfortable position. I imagine the conversation went something like this;

Clement:
I know you object to Henry divorcing your aunt. I understand completely! Believe me, no one hates divorce like I do! But in this one instance, perhaps you could see your way clear too…

Charles:
No.

Clement:
The thing is, we’re all adults here. Let’s be reasonable and admit to certain realities…

(At this point one of Cement’s servants plummets past his office window, screaming the whole way. There is a dull thud. The screaming stops.)

Charles:
Who knew the Vatican could be such a dangerous place? What were you saying, Pope?

Clement:
Nevermind.

Henry didn’t get what he wanted from the Vatican. This was an unpleasant surprise for Henry. It was even more unpleasant for Cardinal Wolsey, who had staked everything, and I do mean everything, on securing the divorce for Henry. With the divorce off, Wolsey was not only out of a job, he was living on borrowed time. And with Wolsey out of the way, the anti-ecclesiastical party suddenly found itself coming in from the cold. They had a plan, a rather bold plan, that would not only secure Henry the divorce he wanted, but destroy the influence of the Catholic Church in England forever.
These gentlemen were Protestants. What Henry gave them underlines the adage; “Be careful what you wish for.”

I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson. I left rather a lot of detail out, couldn’t be helped. Had I gone into detail it would have taken up more space than anyone would be comfortable with. As a postscript, let me just add, Henry married Anne, She did not produce the boy he wanted, they had a girl, Elizabeth. Henry was not pleased and chopped Anne’s head off so he could try again with another hapless female. And the rest is history.
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Thank you Mr. Al

Alice 

Cudos to Bev!

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 8:33 am

I’ve only read the first few pages, and recognize them from one of your blogs  😀 but I can see this is going to be a good read.

 Congrats on writing the book and getting it out!

Alice

March 24, 2007

Guest Blog with Mr. Al: The Tudors

Filed under: Guest Blogs, Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al — aliceaudrey @ 2:56 pm

Some time ago I asked Mr. Al to provide me with a guest blog- something having to do with marriage in history, his choice.  He came up with a wonderful bit about Henry the VIII which he promptly posted over in FanLit Forever!  Harumph.  This is his sequiel to it. 

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Some persons have made it known that they enjoyed my previous post on the Tudor follies. I was and am tickled pink that so many, all six or seven of you, found the reading worthwhile. As a result, I have decided to continue on the subject. I would have posted something earlier had I not fallen into a very old, yet still effective, procrastination trap. I had to do more research.

Let me say at the outset that I take a back seat to no one in my admiration for research. Not only is it entertaining in it’s own right, it is also necessary. But…(There’s always a “but”) it can often become a seductive trap. It works, as all good seductions do, because the writer wants to be seduced. Nothing like a little “research” to justify staying away from the keyboard. And you are learning sooooo much!

Enough. Back to the subject. Henry had a number of problems that cropped up as a result of his solution to his marital difficulties. One was that Catherine was not going to be put aside without a fight. She had powerful friends, both in England and on the continent. She intended to use them. Henry’s biblical fig leaf justifying his actions, that the Bible forbade a man marrying his brothers widow suffered a setback when Catherine made it known that that particular injunction didn’t apply to her since Arthur, Henry’s brother, never consummated the marriage. It would seem that Arthur wasn’t…er…into girls. Alas, for Catherine, that wasn’t the only card Henry had to play.

That line was rendered moot when he decided he didn’t need the Pope’s permission after all! Not if he broke with the Catholic Church and had himself declared the supreme head of a brand spank’n new Church of England! Since he would be the sole authority on church doctrine. Royal divorces would be A-Okay! It was a win/win situation for Henry.

But there was a hitch.

Many of the men who backed Henry in his plan to break with Rome did so because they were Protestants. It was still very illegal to be Protestant in England. While Henry may have had his differences with Rome, he was NOT ready to embrace the reformation. In his heart of hearts, Henry was Catholic. These men had to proceed carefully. They envisioned a full-blown reformation in England…eventually. For the time being they had to hide their Protestant beliefs and play up the other benefits of the deal, English autonomy in matters of faith, money, Henry as pontiff, money, all that Catholic property that would belong to the king, money, Henry getting to marry Anne, money, ecclesiastic courts brought under the jurisdiction of the crown, money, So on and so forth. The fact that Henry and his councilors had VERY different ideas as to what the final product of Henry’s ambition would look like meant serious trouble for the English people after Henrys death.

What made any of this possible was that England was ready for a reformation. While most Englishmen were Catholic, the Church had been abusing its authority in England as badly as it had been on the continent. People were getting fed up with the corruption that was not only sending their money to Rome, but more importantly, was endangering their souls! How could illiterate priests offer salvation when they could not even read the Bible to their largely illiterate congregations on Sunday? Badly trained priests who muddled through the sacraments, who couldn’t even perform last rites properly were worse than useless. They were dangerous!

The fact that progressive Catholics in England and elsewhere were trying, desperately, to reform the Church from within was not cutting any ice with the men and women who had discovered a new way to be Christian. The idea behind the reformation was very simple. Direct communion with God through the reading of scripture. Each man and woman is responsible for his/ her OWN salvation. Salvation would come through accepting Christ into one’s life and through living a Christian life as directed by Gods revealed word. No priests, no cardinals, no masses or images of saints. Indeed, so virulent was the iconoclasm that an enormous amount of ecclesiastic art was lost forever to the bonfires of the “reformers”

It wasn’t only the Catholic Church that had a problem with this. Henry wasn’t real thrilled with it either. If the king was to be head of a new Church of England he couldn’t have his subjects running around thinking they didn’t need any church at all! Where’s the percentage in that? Henry wanted the members of HIS church to tow the line! But that would come later. What he wanted most at the moment, he got. Catherine was no longer his wife. And not a moment too soon because Henry was in no mood to wait around for the ink to dry on the divorce decree. Anne was very pregnant before the lovebirds were officially married at the end of January 1533.

If Henry’s actions were giving Pope Clement ulcers, and he had a full dance card as it was, they were giving Emperor Charles reason to think an invasion of England might be pleasing unto the Lord. But not right away. France was still a problem for Charles, which made gallivanting off to England problematic. Besides, Catherine had not been deprived of her property. Mary was still head of the line of succession, for the time being. As long as Mary’s position was unchanged, Charles felt a bit of saber rattling and strongly worded letters to Henry regarding his aunts, and Mary’s, well being would suffice. He was also keeping a very close watch on the situation through his ambassadors/spies in Henrys court. Any guy who would break with Rome and set up his OWN church was capable of ANYTHING! Who knew what he might do next?

I hope to have the next installment done before we have to leave for Belize. Thanks again for being loyal readers and you can drop change into the coffee can next to the door on your way out.

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Thank you Mr. Al. 

Alice

March 21, 2007

“I Know What I Like”

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 11:32 pm

Editors and Agents are constantly answering the question “What are you looking for?” with some variation on “A really good book.”

This is, of course, the ultimate truth.  No editor or agent wants to put the effort into a project they don’t like.  It is such an obvious truth that it is of no use whatsoever to the average writer.

The problem is that we are all human.  Editors, agents, writers, publishers, readers, everyone involved with the publishing industry has a unique opinion on what is or is not good.  Personal taste plays an enormous roll, and can be very hard to pin down.

I love my work.  I love every book I’ve ever written, even the ones that were DOA.  There is a chance I may be the only one in the world who does.  Still, if you ask me if my books are good, I will tell you yes.  Of course they are.  I consider most of them to be “a really good book.”  That doesn’t mean I should send any of them off to just anyone or to everyone.

Thus I am stuck with that hideous question, “What do you like?”

I understand why agents and editors respond with to the question with a generalized answer.  They don’t want to pin themselves down when a particularly well written and engaging story can make them change their minds about particular genres or styles or what have you.  Nor do they wish to be flooded with books about peacocks or granola bars after having mentioned an interest in them.

Consider the question from a reader’s perspective.  As a reader I am quite willing to read any book so good that my friends place a copy in my hands and say “You have got to read this!”  I will read such a book even when it is a variety I would not otherwise give a second glance.  But when I reach for a book that I have no reason to believe will be any better than what I normally read, I generally reach for the same sort of things repeatedly. 

Most writers I know, including myself, firmly believe we write something people will enjoy while also recognizing that our books are not necessarily the best things ever written.  We want to put them in the hands of editors and agents who would naturally reach for this kind of book simply because it’s the kind they like.  That is why we keep asking the same questions.

What do you like?  What are you looking for now?  How about a light hearted Romantic Suspense with a lot of sensuality, a quirky sense of humor, and a truly horrific bad guy?  How about sensual Historical Romances set in Regency England?  How about High Fantasy?  Sensual Science Fiction?  Private Investigators?

The question isn’t going away.  Writers prefer to reduce the amount of rejection they have to suffer as much as possible.  Finding someone with the right tastes is part of that effort.  Short of flinging our work on an unsuspecting desk and hoping for the best, the fastest way to know if it’s the right place for a given book is to listen to the answer to that question.

Alice

March 20, 2007

Belize Still On. I Hope.

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 8:21 pm

Ok.  Cross our fingers and hope nobody gets any sicker and it looks like we can still all go.  I hope.  It mostly depends on things like my cyst, my mothe’rs hip replacement, and my son’s strep throat.  But at least we were all able to get our shots after all.  For a while we weren’t so sure.  We are cutting the timing a bit close.

So, for anyone I haven’t already told, I’m not going to be very active here the first week of April.  But I’ll have interesting travel stuff to talk about and maybe some pictures of Belize when I get back.

 Meanwhile, I’m hoping I can get back to a more interesting blog when I’m not driving 40 miles to get shots or arranging emergency visits to the pediatrician.

Alice

To Belize or Not To Belize, That Is The Question

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 10:18 am

Gah!

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Travel plans on hold.

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I hate disease

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Alice

March 19, 2007

Hello

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 6:38 pm

Yes, we’re having some problems in the Audrey household.  This time, exposure to Scarlet Fever.  Probably nothing but bad timing.

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Alice

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