My new historical fiction novel— a family saga set in Quebec, spanning two world wars and beyond— will be released in early spring. The cover is to be revealed very soon.
#historical fiction #Canadian fiction #Quebec fiction #October crisis #women fiction
Did you know that before Cheez Whiz was sold in jars, it came in Swanky Swigs tumblers you could drink from? That’s the kind of wonderful nonsense I come up with while researching for my latest historical novel. Also learned about blunt-ended seamen’s knives—used for cutting, not stabbing. My characters have a lot to show me.
#historical fiction, #amwriting #Canadian #research
Just finished three weeks of intense proofreading of my new historical novel, Not a Healing Balm,—it’s only a working title since the publisher wasn’t comfortable with the one I first came up with. I didn’t agree with his suggestion at first, but rereading my manuscript after not setting eyes on it for six months warmed me up to it. This being at least my 6th proofreading attempt, I was determined to make the manuscript sparkly clean. I knew the publisher’s own editor would come up with a bunch of grammar mishaps and typos, so I willed myself to find them first. Lost cause, I’m sure, those things become invisible when writers search for them.
His initial request was to change a few verbs around and to ease up on my use of italics, but I ended up revising almost every verb in the novel. I don’t like to use dialogue tags, so I have to resort to a lot of action beats. Most times those action beats only serve the purpose of giving the reader a break from all the dialogue. But you have to vary them once in a while. Try finding creative synonyms for look, turn, pause or smile—daunting to say the least.
But I got the work done—after neglecting everything else, including social media, the whole time. Now I have to work on my biographical notes—ugh, a much hated task. Since I conceded about the title, work on the cover is next, and I can go back to the second historical novel I’m working on. I’ll have to get reacquainted with my characters and get back on track with what they were up to before I last dumped them to do my
#historical fiction #Canadian writing #proofreading #Quebec.
This must be a partial list, because a lot more phobias come to mind–claustrophobia and arachnophobia being the ones that concern me most. As a writer I can add the fear of rejections, although I think publishers these days are trying to be more politically correct–my manuscripts are now referred to as ‘declined’ rather than ‘rejected’. There’s also the fear of getting bad reviews, although I should be immune to those by now. And as my kids are getting older and settling into a life of their own, there’s the fear of the distances created between us by their new-found independence.
There must be a lot of unnamed phobias out there. Can you think of more and what would you call them?
List from: penseesduchoeur.tumblr.com
#writing #reviews #rejections #phobias
Geraldine Brooks historical novel, Caleb’s Crossing, tells the story of Calvinist pioneers who came to settle Martha’s Vineyard in the latter part of the 1600 century. Pristine land was acquired through unfair negotiations with the native people who had no idea of the white man’s concept of ownership. Then came the imposition of their Puritan views and religion which eventually led to the genocide of the Wampanoag tribe. It is also the story of Bethia Mayfield, the Calvinist minister’s daughter, who must fight to satisfy her quest for knowledge—education for women being taboo in the Puritan scheme of things. She befriends Caleb, the chieftain’s son,because he is native, is considered undeserving of education. But the English back in the old country want to assert their Judeo-Christian compassion by helping to fund the schooling of Indian children. Caleb’s brilliance becomes apparent and he is chosen to cross the river to the mainland to further his learning. He quickly outshines the non-native students in all subjects, but by doing so he must forsake his own native religion. There is also a price to be paid to cross over to the other side?
A fascinating read but for the abrupt ending where fifty years of Bethia’s life are told in just a few pages. Quite disappointing when her earlier life was told in such detail.
#historical fiction #reviews #Geraldine Brooks
End of year tidying up! I’ve compiled a few lists of books I’ve read. Nothing worse than buying a book only to realize a few pages later that I’ve already read it (different cover, same story). This list covers authors who are either Canadian or have Canadian content. Most are historical fiction.
#Canadian Fiction #reading #books #reviews #Canada reads
This is an American-western story of bank robbers in the 1920’s. An elderly lady on her death bed asks a young newspaper reporter, Nathaniel, to write her story while her granddaughter Madeline listens by her side. The grandmother has kept her story secret for seven decades and is now ready to tell it, but insists on using fake names. She describes Joe Tilley’s life of crime in the early 1920’s with his partner Buck. The two go on a bank robbing spree with a young girl as a side-kick, and their criminal exploits seem to be unstoppable–at first.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel and Madeline form some kind of friendship where they try to find clues that will validate the story which at times appears a little far-fetched. A twist is revealed at the very end of the story–although more astute readers will pick up the clues before that.
The framework of the story flips flops between modern times when the story is being told, and the wild-west times of the actual story. A very entertaining read, but I would’ve liked to see more involvement between the modern characters.
#reviews #fiction #historical fiction #novels
Anthony Doerr’s historical novel, All the Light We Cannot See, tells the story of Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives in Paris with her father on the eve of WWII, and Werner Pfennig, a German orphan boy who has a passion for technology. The two live miles apart and are on opposite sides of the war but they share an internal conflict: how to remain true to yourself amidst the terror and indignity of war. Werner’s small stature makes him a misfit and an easy target for the Nazi youths trained to destroy anyone showing signs of weakness. His keenness to see the scientific connections to all things and his creativity are the keys to his survival. It is Marie-Laure’s love of books that will enable her to discover the inner courage that will help her transcend her handicap. Their sense of justice and adherence to morality (the light we cannot see) will guide them through the ugliness of war.
The story starts in 1944 and spans about 80 years with short chapters that go back and forth between Werner and Marie-Laure’s POV—though not always in a chronological order. The writing is well crafted and at times lyrical, but a few scenes could’ve been eliminated without harming the plot at all. A must read!
Belva Plain’s novel, The Sight of the Stars, takes place in a small Texas town in the early 1900’s.Young and determined to make his own way in life, Adam Arnring gets off the train and within a few hours has landed as a job as manager of a run down store owned by a no-nonsense widow. Through hard work and lots of creativity, Adam transforms the store into a flourishing establishment. Along comes the owner’s daughter, the aloof Emma, and he is mesmerized.
This is a family story that spans a few generations and encompasses the classical emotions of love, betrayal, envy, compassion, and intolerance. Time is seen as the dominant force through out the novel erasing past worries and pain. There is an urgency to put things right before it’s too late.
‘Time hurries by. New green leaves sprout; a season has passed when they brown and fall; all of a sudden, it is another year.’
The time span of the novel and the number of different characters who come in with each new generation make it difficult as a reader to become intimate with any of them–some disappear and are vaguely referred to further on in the story. An interesting historical read.
When the Lion Feeds, Wilbur Smith ‘s first book in his Courtney series, takes place in South Africa during the times of the Zulu wars. The story is based on Sean Courtney’s journey from his family’s farm which he leaves to his alcoholic twin brother Gary and his pregnant young wife. He strikes it rich in the Witwatersand Gold Rush only to lose everything to a conniving competitor. His next venture is living in the wilderness hunting elephants for their ivory–a part of his life where he suffers the most emotionally.
The issues in this book don’t make this an easy read: the senseless killing of elephants, the massacre and enslavement (referred to as ‘servants’) of the Zulu people, the belittled role of women–but it is, after all, a historic presentation of the growth of Africa.
The novel ends on a sad note, but apparently picks up with the reunion with his twin brother in the next book. A good read for those who have an interest in Africa’s history, but a caution of graphic violence to lovers of animals.