Frederica and the twenty first century


Written on Sunday, January 25, 2009 by haleigh

Monday, January 26th

So one part of my upcoming classes is to critically examine other books within the genre. Last week I read Frederica, and while it wasn't technically on my list of books to examine, there were bits which intrigued me.

So Frederica was published by Gerogette Heyer in 1965, and kicked off the modern romance genre. It reads much like classical literature, rather than books which are published by today's standards. For instance, every instance of dialog was followed by an exclamation point.

Don't pick on the dog, Felix! I won't, Frederica!

And then there were the dialog tags. Oh, the dialog tags. Not only were there explanations and adverbs, Heyer didn't follow the "said and said only" rule. Not even close.

"You don't say!" exclaimed the Duke. "Oh yes!" shouted Frederica.

And then it got worse. On four occasions - four! - the dialog tag was......wait for it......ejaculated. That's right, the Duke ejaculated his praise. "My Lord!" ejaculated the Duke. Seriously. He ejaculated.

So there were things about this book which clearly, would not be acceptable by today's standards. And Heyer broke other cardinal rules too. She wrote entirely in omniscient pov, and switched between people's heads as fast as she changed paragraphs. Hell, she even dipped into the dog's pov once!

And there was no showing going on in this novel - only telling.

So here's the weird thing. There was no pov depth, and I was told everything instead of shown. And there was a lot of words being ejaculated. But still, I could not put down this book. I loved it. The agnst was phenomonal, and my heart broke over and over for these characters, only to be perfectly taped back together.

I have no idea how Heyer accomplished this, as it's been drilled into my head that they only way to convey emotion is to show it, with the necessary deep pov. But she accomplished it. I guess it goes to show that in the hands of a very talented author, any rule can be broken. And telling, while not as strong or effective as showing, can work if used correctly.

Anybody else have a book that broke all the rules, but you loved it anyway?

I'm back!


Written on Thursday, January 15, 2009 by haleigh

Thursday, January 15th

I'm back, from an amazing week of learning all about writing and more writing and more writing, and frankly, I'm freakin exhausted. But I learned a lot, much of which I will hopefully be sharing in the months to come.

So for now, the story of my return trip home from Pittsburgh:

I'd planned to leave Wednesday, after the end of our last class, but with winter storm advisories, inches of slushy, dirty snow, and ice everywhere, I decided that perhaps, a six hour drive home in the dark, through the mountains, might not be my brightest plan.

So I stayed overnight, and decided to attempt my journey during daylight hours. And thank every deity I could possibly get myself prone enough to bow to that I did!

My windshield wiper fluid decided it wasn't necessary, and stopped working. Which meant that every truck on the interstate (and there were a lot!) sprayed slush, salt, and ice on my windshield. Which I couldn't clear off. Or see though. You know, the little things. So every half mile or so, I had to role down my window (it was 7 degrees, by the way), reach as far out the window as I could, and pour bottled water on my windshield so I could run the wipers. Of course, half the water sprayed back into the car, as I was going 60 mph, which instantly iced over.

So it takes me an hour and a half to go twenty miles, I have ice all over my arm, and I'm on the freakin Pennsylvania Turnpike (for those of you not from PA, it's often a good 20 or 30 miles before they bother to give you another exit).

Not fun.

So finally I get home, throw my bags in the house, greet the puppy who missed me terribly, and see a beautiful bouquet of flowers the hubby got me. So I think, "Oh, I'll run over to work and say thank you!."

Not a good plan.

I race out of the house, without necessary things like my wallet or my phone. But hell, it's only two miles, what could go wrong?

The car breaks down.

And I mean, this POS breaks down. It's making a horrible thunking noise, I can smell burning oil, lights are coming on all over the dashboard, alarms bells are clanging - this car is done. So I crank the wheel and land in a pharmacy parking lot. I have no phone, no money. I scrounge for nickles and dimes, feed them into a payphone (I could barely remember how!) and called work.

Of course, Rob had just left. Ironically, as he was calling my phone over and over, trying to find me, and getting horribly pissed off, he drove past me. Just didn't see me stranded in the pharmacy parking lot.

It took another dollar worth of scrounged up nickles, two phone calls, multiple incidents of screaming and cursing, and me hanging up on him twice (hence the extra necessary nickles - I should have thought that part through), for us to get on the same page about what I needed (i.e., a freakin ride!).

So the moral of the story is.....okay, I can't think of one. But the car's now at the shop, I don't even what to know what went wrong, and I definitely don't want to know what it's going to cost to fix it. But at least it happened a mile from home and not on the PA turnpike.



Written on Thursday, January 08, 2009 by haleigh

So tomorrow morning, I'm making the drive to Pittsburgh, where I will begin an intensive week of course work and critique groups. I'm filled with a mix of excitement and dread. Excitement for all the cool things I'm going to learn, dread that Marn will pass me up in our JanNaNo while I'm gone.

Oh, wait. She already passed me? Well then....

But really, I'm a bit nervous. Mostly about the critique groups. What if I'm too harsh? What if people hate mine? And I'm nervous about meeting new people - I don't generally do well in situations where I have to meet new people. I stutter and stammer and look down at my shoes. So to boost my confidence, I bought these amazing new shoes. That way, when I duck my head to hide, I'll see the phenomenal shoes, be bolstered with confidence, and suddenly start making spell-binding small talk. (true story - I actually spent weeks searching for the perfect shoes to bolster my confidence).

But on a better note to bolster my confidence levels, I just got handed a book, part of which I wrote!! It's scholarly, not fiction, so not quite as exciting, but still! It's an edited book, and I co-wrote one chapter. So I excitedly flipped to our chapter (not missing the wonderful new-book smell and crisp, bound pages) and found the four pages of the chapter that I wrote all by myself. Hot damn! It's hideously boring, about how post-WWII mathematical research was used to study the feasibility of global peace, but still - I wrote it!!

Okay, so between those two things, I should have my confidence up, right? I'm ready to go. And when I get back next Thursday, hopefully I will have tons of materials for blog posts about writing and craft and will blow your socks off.


(oh, and in the mean time, check out Jessica Faust's blog today - I liked to it on your right, called "Agent's tastes." Excellent info on the agent-editor-author relationship)

countertransference and schizophrenia


Written on Sunday, January 04, 2009 by haleigh

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Countertransference is the dirty word of therapy. Professors during undergrad would throw it around as a threat. According to Wikipedia (dear god I'm quoting wikipedia), it can include a therapist transferring their emotions to the patient, or worse, "cases where the therapist literally takes on the suffering of his/her patient. In the most extreme of cases, it can result in the therapist taking on the neurosis or psychosis of the patient, such as bouts of paranoia or psychotic intervals, illustrated by Jung in the case of schizophrenia."

I think we need a word in writing for countertransference. Or maybe there is one and I just don't know it yet.

The reason I've come to this conclusion? Because over the course of one week working on my new MS, I've become desperate to become a pilot.

That's right, I, who gets ill every time I'm in a plane that lands (so, all planes....thank god), have decided that in my "spare time," I should take flying lessons and buy myself a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

I was a bit startled by this revelation (I mean, wow, I've uncovered a secret, deep-set desire to defy the laws of gravity and soar into the sunset) until I remembered that while writing my last MS, I was tempted to throw it all away to become an investigative journalist.

Anyone else noticing a theme here? It seems that I like to take on the characteristics of my heroine. I mean, I know we all inadvertanly transfer our own emotions, values, nuerosis, etc. onto our characters, but I'm managing to take on their characteristics?? They're not real!! I made them up!

So far it's only my heroines, and only their career options, so maybe I'm safe from becoming a scizhophrenic like poor Jung up there. And I wonder if it's only the heroine's because I can relate better to women, or because all of my hero's so far have obscure job titles like "super-secret uber bad-ass," the likes of which, I am clearly not. Though I will admit to making plans with a friend to go to a firing range and take "learn all about handguns" class. But that's just good research. Right?

I even went so far in my "countertransference" to check how much, exactly, flying lessons would cost me. Not as much, actually, as you might think. I might even be able to swing a lesson or two.

Oh god, somebody stop me now. In my next book, the heroine's going to be a secretary.

Anybody else have this problem? Or am I clearly on the road to schizophrenia and still in denail? Any tips for picking normal jobs for your characters? Anybody else walking the fine line between research and crazy?

happy new year!


Written on Thursday, January 01, 2009 by haleigh

I love New Year's. It's a clean, fresh start. I feel like I have a fresh start writing too. My first MS behind me, and I'm ready to start again, with everything I've learned. Hopefully I won't make all the same mistakes this time around (like ending up with so many plot holes I have to rewrite 60% of the darn thing).

So in the vein of fresh starts, I have been researching, researching, researching. To admit to my geekiness, I love this stage. I love scrounging for little known facts and being able to throw out at a party, "You know, the per barrel cost of Brazilian deep-sea oil from the Tupi field is $33."

So in my plotting, I got all excited yesterday about an idea - campaign financing! The plot all comes back to scandalous campaign donations. So I googled "campaign finance" and in about five minutes, I realized this is not, in fact, the direction I want to go. Yikes! Could I have picked a more convoluted subject?

So, I'm still trying to figure out what the big final conspiracy is. I'd like to get the suspense side of the book plotted before I start writing. The relationships/emotional side I try to just let happen. But it's much easier to write when you know who the bad guy is and what they want!

But for this particular story, I have one topic to research which is turning out to be really fun. My heroine is a pilot. I'm pretty sure this says a lot about her -- her attention to detail, her independence, her love for routine.

But the cool part - she crashes her plane (on purpose). So I have to figure out how exactly one goes about crashing a plane and surviving it. So my first thought: taking flying lessons! Uh, a bit out of my price range. Second idea: flight simulator!

So with my little flight simulator computer game, I am learning to fly -- and crash -- a plane. I've so far learned to take off, make turns, and climb and descend. Next, I need to figure out how to land the sucker. Then, I'll crash it :)

So my goals for the new year are, in no particular order:
-- learn how to crash a plane
-- write another MS
-- query for an agent

And today starts Marn and I's mini-nano! I'm at 3,211 right now, and my goal is 28,211 by January 31st. Anybody else in?