Alice’s Restaurant

June 30, 2007

When Do You Show Your Work?

Filed under: writing, Writing Craft, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:05 am

Do you keep your writing to yourself until the entire book is done?  Or do you like to be cheered on as you go?  Do you write to your vision, to your audience, or both?

My first three attempts at writing a book went bust.  The second attempt in particular was spectacular because I spent twenty years on it, and never once got close to the end.  I showed it to anyone who would sit still long enough for me to put it under their nose, and got all kinds of conflicting feedback.  That book left a mental scar.

It took me seven months to write my first Romance.  I pushed myself mercilessly, forcing the words out and demanding all kinds of time from my family.  I was afraid if I didn’t get it done quickly, I’d never finish it at all.  When I had finished the rough draft I thought I was done.  I showed it to my mother.  She damned it with faint praise.

Frankly, knowing my mother I doubt she will ever wax rhapsodic over anything I write, so damning with faint praise isn’t as bad as it sounds.  Still, it wasn’t very encouraging.

I immediately threw myself into revisions, and made what I thought was good progress, then sent it off to Leisure.  I got a personal rejection letter – not just a form letter – out of that submission.  Again, faint praise, but some encouragement.

My next several books were all written with the same kind of fever, a kind of desperation to prove to myself that I would actually write the book.  I got a lot written in the years before I found a critique group. 

Since finding the critique group my rate of production has plummeted.  I’ve been focusing on revision instead.  I never showed anything to any of my CP’s that didn’t have at least a completed rough draft if not a fair amount of polish.  However, I’ve stripped books down and rebuilt them so much that sometimes my CP’s were seeing material fresh off the press.

I am now at the point where I have written 15 books, but have no completes.  Zackly Right seems to be close, but the first time someone points out a soft spot, you know I’ll be rebuilding it again.  A couple of years ago I was sure Serpent’s Teeth was done.  It’s currently getting a new villain.  I’m not sure where to stop.

For a long time my advice to anyone who hadn’t completed at least a rough draft was to NOT go around getting feedback or do anything until the rough draft was done.  I still think this is a good way to do it because the vision for the book is less likely to twist out from under you as you write.  In the back of my mind will always be that second book, which got revised from scratch four times though it never came close to having an ending.

However, I’m beginning to think it’s a bit like jumping the pool.  I’m firmly in the just-jump-in-and-get-it-over-with camp.  Others are in the ease-in-slowly group.  I’m quite willing to keep on writing when the writing isn’t going well because I know I’ll discover what I need to fix earlier parts later on.  However, I’ve seen for myself how much easier it can be to write when you go back and fix something that’s gone awry before moving on.

So which group are you in?  Which way do you do it?  If you could pass a message into the past, what would you tell yourself?

Alice

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June 28, 2007

Hey Lynn!

Filed under: Linkyness — aliceaudrey @ 3:44 pm

Every time I try to get onto your site I get error messages.  I’m not having trouble with anyone else’s.  Just yours.

Alice

Guilty Secret – I Read Reader’s Digest.

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:14 am

But only for the jokes.  Honest.  I’m not so much into drama that I read every article.

The jokes, on the other hand, keep me telling my MIL that the subscription is greatly appreciated, which in turn keeps it coming.

In my mind Readers Digest hasn’t changed much.  It looks the same as it did when I was a kid.  That was a LOOOOONG time ago.  However, I’m finding evidence that they are at least aware of the times.  For instance check out this joke:

“The latest term being bandied about our IT office id PICNIC: ‘Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.'”

They still have some old ones too.

“Why were the elephants kicked off the beach?  They were walking around with their trunks down.”

I did notice, however, that the month I went in for surgery they had a cover story about mistakes made by hospitals.  I refuse to look at the back pain cover on this month’s issue.  And we won’t even begin to talk about Reader’s Digest’s version of the weather.

Nope.  Instead I’ll leave you with this tid bit:

Still groggy from an operation, the patient was in an agitated state.  “Nurse,” he moaned, “I heard the surgeon use a four-letter word, and it caused me great distress.”

“What did the surgeon say?” asked the nurse.

“Oops.”
Alice

June 27, 2007

Travelling Woes

Filed under: From the Mail Bag — aliceaudrey @ 12:18 am

OK, not the best joke I’ve ever posted, but not the worst I’ll come up with either: You are driving in a car at a constant speed.  On your left side is a ‘drop off’, (The ground is 18-20 inches below the level you are traveling on), and on your right side is a fire engine traveling at the same speed as you.  In front of you is a galloping horse, which is the same size as your car and you cannot overtake it.  Behind you is a galloping zebra.  Both the horse and zebra are also traveling at the same speed as you.  What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?

For the

answer,

 click and

drag your

mouse

from star to

star.

* Get

your

drunk-

ass off

the

merry-

go-

round. *

June 26, 2007

Tudor Follies: The Sad Tale of Katherine Howard

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:58 am

It’s Tudor Tuesday and Mr. Al is back with his short and pithy take on history.  Put down your cereal bowls. We’re going to skirt the edges of “eww” with this one.
***
Of the six wives of Henry the VIII, Katherine Howard was probably the least prepared for what lay ahead. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. Her mother died when she was a toddler. Her father remarried, but her stepmother had little to do with her upbringing. She was sent to live in the household of her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. That woman more or less ignored Katherine from day one. Her education was spotty, at best. By today’s standards Katherine was functionally illiterate. If only the neglect had stopped there.
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Basically, Katherine ran wild with damned little adult supervision growing up. This was something that would be brought up at her trial. The Duchess tried very hard to hide her gross incompetence as a foster parent. If her detractors are to be believed Katherine began having sex when she was ten or eleven; A bit early, even in an age when many girls were married at twelve. It seemed to be the story of Katherine’s short life to be used by adults for their own ends. It was certainly the intention of her uncle and the Duchess that she do everything in her power to attract Henry. She was considered pretty by many, of medium height with auburn hair and gray eyes. Beyond the fact that her early life was unsupervised, little is known about Katherine as a girl.
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She and Henry were married at the Oatlands, one of Henry’s palaces. The date was July 28, 1540. By odd coincidence, it was the same day as Cromwell’s execution. Henry had decided to demonstrate his merciful side by having Cromwell’s sentence commuted to “simple decapitation.” The London crowds must have been keenly disappointed. It was probably some consolation to them that the executioner bungled the first strike and had to try again to get the head to come off. What the hell, at least they weren’t charged admission.

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Henry and Katherine hadn’t even left for their honeymoon before Katherine’s enemies began looking for ways to bring her down. They weren’t really Katherine’s enemies; these people didn’t give a tinker’s cuss about Katherine. The Duke of Norfolk was the target. Having Katherine killed was just a formality. As they dug up the dirt on Katherine’s sordid past, a problem arose. All this stuff was useless unless they could prove that Katherine was still having it off with whomever. Pre-marital sex wasn’t against the law. It certainly didn’t make her look good, but it wasn’t a death sentence.

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The man who made it his mission to bring Katherine down was Archbishop of Canterbury Cranmer. He was against what Katherine represented; The Catholic faction. To have this faction in the ascendancy was unacceptable. These people were against everything Cranmer had worked so hard for. Henry’s church was too new to allow this group even a toehold in Henry’s court.

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Consequently, Cranmer went to work on gathering evidence that Katherine was still having it off with other men. A job made both easier and harder by Katherine herself. Easier because she made one of her alleged ex-lovers a member of her household. Harder because the only evidence against her came from servants who never saw anything directly. Even under intense questioning, the best these servants could give Cranmer were stories about Katherine spending a few hours with this or that fellow late at night, but never alone. The lady Rochford, of the Queen’s Privy Chamber, was always present. And these gents never stayed the whole night.
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If no one was willing to tell Cranmer what he wanted to hear through routine questioning, perhaps a little persuasion was in order. It looked like some people needed a trip to the Tower to loosen their tongues. Two fellows in particular, Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper were prime suspects. Both had known Katherine before Henry and Dereham had made statements in public that he and Katherine would one day be married.
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There were plenty of stories about the two of them while Katherine was still under the Duchess of Norfolk’s roof. And Dereham was the guy Katherine made her private secretary. Not a smart move on her part, particularly since he had no obvious qualifications for the job. The last time Katherine had seen him, before she took up her post as a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves, Dereham had announced he was going to Ireland to become a pirate! Witnesses testified that Katherine was visibly relived to see him go.
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“See ya later, Francis! Yo ho ho and a bottle of Jamison’s! You go Francis! Live the dream! That’s it, keep going, have fun, do forget to write, see ya.” (I made up that last bit.)
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Katherine expressed the hope that she would never see him again.
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Even though he had not collected solid evidence of adultery, Cranmer felt that he should let Henry in on his suspicions. He was confident that he could prove Katherine’s promiscuous past. That should be enough to get the green light for a full-scale investigation. Poor Henry. By all accounts he really was in love with Katherine. Cranmer’s information was a profound shock to him. Unlike Cromwell, Cranmer was not born to this sort of thing. He was a theologian, not a secret policeman. His concern was for the church. Henry gave him a bad scare by telling him what would happen to him if he didn’t have his facts strait.
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After he calmed down, Henry told Cranmer to do whatever he had to do to get to the bottom of this mess. Like Anne Boleyen before her, Katharine was confined to quarters until the matter was settled. This gave her a very bad turn. The fine points of the law were totally beyond her. That Henry even suspected her of adultery was enough to convince her that her fate was sealed.
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Did she have a guilty conscience? Not about her behavior after her marriage. There never was any evidence that she had committed adultery. That Dereham and Culpeper wanted to sleep with her after she became Queen, there was evidence.  That Katherine had firmly rebuffed them, there was evidence. Cranmer ran with the former and ignored the latter. Lacking solid evidence, Cranmer did what any unscrupulous 16th century prosecutor would do. He would wring, in the worst sense of the word, confessions out of the suspects.

***

Thank you Mr. Al.  Now I want to know what happened to Cranmer.  Not what happens because of him.  What happens to him.  Does he get his?

Alice
 

June 24, 2007

The Video on Ericka’s Blog

Filed under: Linkyness — aliceaudrey @ 9:49 am

Check out the video on Ericka’s blog!  What a hoot!

Alice 

Notes From The Island

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 8:36 am

Here’s a little something to get the FanLitters in the Ben and Tara mood.  I call the guy Ben and the gal Tara.

 Ben and Tara

Alice

June 23, 2007

A Zip Line in Belize

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 8:53 am

Yes, yes, more Belize.  Honest, I will get it all out of my system someday.  Maybe.  Meanwhile check this out.

We went on a zip line.  A zip line is a cable run through the jungle canopy that you ride with the help of a couple of pulleys, a harness, and some thick gloves.  Oh, and a couple of hunky tour guides. 

Sorry, no hunky tour guide pictures. 
This one was at a resort close to Banana Bank.  I don’t remember the name of the resort, but they had cave tubing and other fun stuff too which we didn’t get around to.  We might have if I hadn’t been sunburned and/or my mother hobbled by surgery, but this was probably enough adventure for us.

We walked up the path depicted above, then walked some more, and some more.  The entire ride is manual from start to finish.  At least parts of the path were interesting.  Check out the designs in the walkway.

Modern Pictographs
Once at the top the guides attached our pulleys to the cable and away we go!  My dd needed a little encouragement.

Oh!  A hunky tour guide.  Oh, to be young again.

You’re weight carries you from platform to platform. 

Looking up at where we will be

You use your hands, covered in thick leather gloves, as brakes by grabbing on to the cable.  I was pretty good at it.  I didn’t brake too much and end up in the middle of the cable between platforms, nor did I crash into the tour guide waiting on the next platform except for once.
It’s a fast ride between one platform and the next.  Here’s the only shot I managed to get from mid-cable:

Eeeeeeeeeee 

This was a dinky little line.  The highest point was only 80 feet up and there were only 6 platforms.  We repelled down to the ground from the last platform.  The whole thing, even considering how slowly my mother and I were moving going up the trail, was only about an hour long.  I hear there’s one over in Bolivia that has 18 platforms.  Hmmm…..

Alice

June 20, 2007

Electronic Dust

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:27 am

Is it just me, or has the Internet gone wonky?  I’m so tired of getting booted off!  Posts that I write keep getting obliterated, made as insubstantial as electronic dust.

Alice

June 19, 2007

Tudor Follies: Anne of Cleves and the Royal Willie

Filed under: Henry VIII, History with Mr. Al, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:39 am

Those of us who are not well versed in history are no-doubt very concerned about Anne of Cleves’ future.  Being an unwanted bride to Henry VIII could get you killed.  And Cromwell?  Better set aside your breakfast, Anastasia.

And now for History according to Mr. Al.
***

They had the same uncle. The gruff, lovable old Duke of Norfolk. He who had gone so far out of his way to make sure that his niece, Anne Boleyn, was slaughtered like a sheep. Getting on Henry’s extremely profitable good side worked with Anne…for a while. Why shouldn’t it work with Katherine? Not only was she younger and much prettier than Anne, she was a few bricks shy of a load! She would do anything she was told to do! She didn’t have Anne’s dynamic personality, but she didn’t need it. Katherine was fourteen or fifteen, Henry was forty-nine. The perfect age difference.

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Henry wasn’t the only older guy to notice Katherine. By the time she caught Henry’s eye she had already had plenty of experience with other men. She would have reason to regret this. There is evidence that she already did. For now, the Katherine/Henry train was moving in the right direction. But what to do about Anne? Everyone involved was worried to distraction about the mess that would result from yet another royal divorce. They had reason to worry. As with Katherine of Aragon, putting Anne aside the wrong way could start a war. Accuse her of adultery? She was too well known now. No one would believe it and Henry would look really bad accusing her of such a thing. Henry was not public opinion proof.

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What to do, what to do, what to do? Unfortunately for Anne, Henry was doing what Henry did best. Blaming her for the fact that he wasn’t attracted to her. Given Henry’s deadly reputation, Anne was getting stressed. She tried avoiding him, which cheesed him off even more. As if HE were the problem! While he was unhappy with Anne, Henry was saving his righteous indignation for someone else.

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On June 10th 1540, Cromwell was arrested in the Council chamber by, who else, the Duke of Norfolk. Not wasting a moment, Henry had him chucked into a barge and taken to the Tower. That same day a Bill of Attainder against Cromwell was drawn up. The charges were treason and heresy. Charges Cromwell himself had used many times in the past against Henry’s enemies. More irony.

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On the 19th the Bill passed the upper house and was sent down to the Commons. While all this was going on, Henry’s plans for annulment were moving full steam ahead. On the 24th Henry sent Anne to Richmond Palace, claiming that plague had broken out in London and he wanted her safe. He would join her in a few days. He didn’t, of course. This put Anne in very bad frame of mind. She had no idea how things stood between her and her husband, no one was telling her and she didn’t even know how the whole thing had started. She had an ugly suspicion how it might end.
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With Anne out of town Henry decided to play the footloose bachelor. Since the fastest, and safest, way through 16TH century London was by boat, everyone who was anyone wanted a palace by the river. This allowed anyone and everyone, including nobodies loafing on the wharves, to view the comings and goings of all and sundry. Including the king. It was soon the talk of London that Henry was visiting Katherine Howard. Nearly every bloody night! He even visited her in broad daylight! If anyone was going to be accused of adultery…

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Members of Katherine’s family were telling her to take a page from her cousin’s playbook. Keep him at arm’s length. Make him WANT it. Don’t give in till you’ve got the ring on your finger. They thought she was still a virgin. There was no point in spoiling Henry’s illusion. Katherine heeded her family’s advice. She did as she was told. This not only enflamed Henry’s passion, it roused him to swift action against Cromwell and the annulment of his marriage.

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By the end of June Anne was still at Richmond and Henry had yet to join her. She was getting seriously frightened. Her ladies were old court hands and knew the signs. All the signs were bad. Anne knew she was totally at Henry’s mercy. That Henry not only didn’t love her, but seemed to hate her. What had she ever done to deserve this? All she could do was wait and hope for the best. For Cromwell, however, the waiting was over.

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On June 29th the Bill of Attainder against Cromwell passed through the Commons. He was a dead man. Worse than that, he was informed that he would suffer the FULL penalty for treason. Ouchie!!! He begged Henry for mercy. “Forgeddaboutit!” Came the reply. In early July Anne began to hear stories about what was happening in London. More bad news. Anne’s chamberlain, the Earl of Rutland, was ordered by Henry to reassure Anne that all was well; That Henry would never do ANYTHING mean or nasty or violent like drag her off to the Tower and chop her head off. He had only done that to one wife…so far. And everyone agreed with Henry that that wife had probably deserved it. Anne was not reassured.

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On July 7th Henry wrote out a declaration that the clergy should look into his marriage. He claimed he had no ulterior motives for seeking an annulment. That he had been lied to about Anne’s beauty, although her virtue was everything a good husband could wish for in a wife. Then there was the business of the pre-marriage agreement. Merciful Heavens! Worrying about that was keeping him up nights.

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As if that were not enough, Henry claimed that he had, quote, “Lack enough of the will and the power” to consummate his marriage. His doctors were happy to confirm that they had urged Henry “not to enforce himself.” God forbid he should damage the Royal Willie before he produced more princes. On July 9th the convocations of York and Canterbury found the marriage of Anne and Henry Null and Void.

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That same day a deputation rode out to Richmond to inform Anne. She was told that, henceforth, she should refer to herself as His Majesties Honorary Sister. No hard feelings. No Tower or chopping block either. Oh… One last thing… She was informed that His Majesty wished her to have 4,000 pounds per annum, the manor houses of Bletchingly and Richmond and… Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s old house. The titles to these places were to be in her name, any rents or profits from these properties were hers to keep. But only if she stayed in England. Should she return to Cleves, where she was not allowed to own property, where she would be under the total control of her brother and would be lucky to claim the clothes on her back as her own, all these properties would revert to the Crown.

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For reasons inexplicable, she decided to stay in England. She liked England! She loved England! She wrote letters to her brother, King Francis and Charles attesting to this fact. Francis and Charles approved of the annulment. I wonder why. Anne declared to the Lords that Henry’s will was her command. Did he want her to sign anything? You betcha! Make declarations? Okey-dokey! Take oaths? No problem! Anne of Cleves was also free to marry whomever she wished. Under the law at that time, all her property would have become her husbands. She stayed single. And… As the king’s sister, she took precedence over all the other women at court, bar the Queen. Speaking of which…

***

Thank you Mr. Al.  It’s nice to see someone escape Henry’s clutches.

Alice

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