Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Post by GINA: Thoughts on the Great Gatsby

Gina is Smarter than I am..... and she proves it ....again

Deleted Scenes from a Gatsby Review

One thing a movie reviewer quickly learns is that, no matter how hard she tries, she can never get everything she wants to say about a movie into one review.  However, I caught a break with my last review. When I reviewed the new Great Gatsby film for, Rachel was kind enough to offer me this space to share any leftover thoughts I might have on the film.

And so I present “Gina’s Gatsby Review: The Deleted Scenes.”

The Music

I had a bit of a tough time making up my mind about the music. Fact is, I’m old-school; if I were in charge, I’d have gone with George Gershwin and Cole Porter. But I understand the raw, modern effect that Baz Luhrmann was going for, and I have to say he pulled it off pretty well (even though I nearly had to bang my head against the wall before I could get “Young and Beautiful” out of it). And I appreciate that he at least managed to work in a few authentic tunes of the period.

Not that I didn’t giggle at some of the ways he used them. Like hitting the crescendo in Rhapsody in Blue just as we were introduced to the title character. It was like, “Fireworks! Gershwin! GATSBY!” It was completely over-the-top—but then, as I did point out in my review, the story is over-the-top and the character is over-the-top. So Luhrmann’s over-the-topness is a good fit. (Though the room full of billowing curtains was a little much. I’m pretty sure that, in Fitzgerald’s vision, the living room was supposed to look like a living room, not a Victoria’s Secret ad that got out of control.)

The Acting

Honestly, I’ve never been much of a Leo fan. When all the other teenage girls around me were sobbing over the end of Titanic, I was yawning and looking at my watch. But he’s come a long way since then. And the part of Gatsby, the eternal golden boy, fits him like a glove.

Tobey Maguire was adequate—though I think he’s a pretty good actor in general, I didn’t find anything particularly special about his Nick. It seemed to me he went a little too much with the “drifter” side of Nick, and not quite enough with the sharp-eyed observer side, though he may have simply been following director’s orders.

However, the women—Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan, and Isla Fisher as Myrtle—all nailed it. Mulligan fully inhabited the beautiful, fragile, shallow Daisy in a way that both attracted and repelled. You could grasp that she’d been hurt and that she was now fully focused on protecting herself at all (and I do mean all) costs, which gave her Daisy just that slight amount of appeal and sympathy needed to keep you from throwing your drink at her. And Debicki, though she didn’t have nearly enough to do, was perfect; she gave the part a hard, cynical, bright-eyed gloss that was quintessentially Fitzgerald. I think and hope that this truly was a breakout role for her, and that we’ll be seeing much more of her in the future.

The Frame Story

One particularly controversial aspect of the film was the framing device that it added: Nick in a sanitarium, telling this story to his doctor. Luhrmann had explained his reasons for doing this—mainly, to give a plausible reason for Nick to be telling it in the first place—but while they’re valid reasons, I still could have done without the device.

In the first place, as others have pointed out, we have a man who tells us that he’s only been drunk twice in his life, being treated for morbid alcoholism. Whoops. It would be one thing if Nick were a pathological liar, but I don’t think that’s the impression we’re supposed to get.

And in the second place, the frame story just seemed to obtrude too much on the main story.  A little bit of narration would have been great—nothing wrong with keeping some of that beautiful Fitzgerald phraseology—but making a big deal out of the narration and why it was there was just a drag, especially when the frame story didn’t really seem to go anywhere. (And why does narration have to be explained anyway? Literature and films are both full of stories that are narrated just because the author or director wanted them to have a narrator.)

Both Nick’s narration and his Gatsby fixation needed to be downplayed a little, instead of overemphasized as they were. They nearly took Nick from disillusioned-observer territory into creepy-stalker territory.

By the way, what was up with actually printing words on the screen at certain points? Is this a new trend now? Because this is the second movie in recent months in which I’ve seen it happen. Dear Hollywood: If this is a trend, it needs to stop being a trend now, okay? Thanks.

On the whole, I thought the adaptation was beautifully done, so I’m not nitpicking. These are just a few stray thoughts about how it could have been even more beautifully done than it was.

Gina Dalfonzo is editor of and Dickensblog.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I don't need you to tell me I'm pretty....

So I have been fairly open (if intermittently  ) about my battle with Anxiety and OCD on the blog here.

One of the sub-categories, as such, of my struggle with mental illness is a hint of body dysmorphic disorder and an obsession with my appearance and weight.  This has gotten a LOT better in the past year or so and I have found a healthy way to exercise and eat without obsessing over every detail.  

As someone who suffered from both bulimia and the propensity to starve myself or come up with fad, controlled diets in my teens and twenties, my thirties have started off with a bang.

I believe, as does my amazing doctor, that no woman will ever truly be satisfied with their appearance. There will always  be something I harp on. Or stress about. I am used to that and I think, for most, this is a “normal” part of life. The fact that I can pose for pictures and not throw up when I see myself on camera ( my camera phobia was always bad ) is just, well, amazing. I even do a fun little video series on my facebook now and then and can just press “publish” and go about my merry way without criticizing everything about myself.  I share this information not to brag; but to revel in the fact that I have found balance and control and it is achievable (even though it took me, well, well over a decade and some professional help).

My blog post today is me (as promised ) being open as much as I can.  

I try to do 4 days of intense physical activity a week ( hiking, the gym, running steps, etc., ). We OCD people love our routines and even though I am controlled now and in a much better mental state  ( you can never completely cure mental disorders) , there are little moments that pop up: little nudges and imps that worm their way into my brain.

Today is a gym day for me. I brought my bag to work, I have my workout gear, I am ready to go after work; but today I am just not feeling great. Not ill—but not great.  I feel sluggish, tired, thirsty and hungry.

This is the way my brain works at moments:

I think: I'm Hungry? You don’t deserve to be hungry.  You even had a cookie at the meeting yesterday. You never eat treats at meetings.  You slacker. You are slacking off. You are falling down.  Look in the mirror. You can see it happening. All your hard work. You ruined it. ßI punish myself. I berate myself. I use food as a means to determine deservedness.

I think: I just don’t feel like going to the gym tonight. I don’t think I have the energy. It’s 36 degrees out with the humidex and I am just feeling weary and worn.  I hiked at least 20 K on the weekend and I think I’ve been overdoing it. My body is tired. I don’t feel like going. Do I have to go?   This is when my brain starts to register Rachel in gold-hued tones. I remember ( or seem to remember) weeks where I have been propelled into action even when I didn’t feel like going.  I remember ( or seem to remember, honest I think I make this stuff up ) the times when I saw more muscle definition, when I wasn’t ever too tired for a weekly gym run, when I would push myself out.  Then, again, I punish ß You are useless. Can’t you even get to the gym?  Can’t you even make the effort? If you do this once, who is to stop you from doing it again and again until all you do is sit at home.  You’re going to never fit into your clothes. You are going to look horrible in the pics at your friend’s wedding in the summer. You don’t deserve a night off.

I HATE WHEN MY MIND GETS THIS WAY  and years of hard work and mental assistance have trained me to combat these moments by rationalization.

What is the worst that can happen? What, logically, is the ramification of a day missed at the gym by a very active person?  Answer: nothing.

There are days that are better than others.  Fortunately, the ratio of these is 7:1 as opposed to the 2:1 I used to suffer from. 

I cannot speak for the male experience; but I kill myself over the way I look.  How I think I look. How I think people want me to look.  And I fail my own words. I’m a walking contradiction, folks.  I even wrote this piece for Her Spacious Soul: knowing that I was addressing issues I struggle with but not owning up to the fact that I need first to fix myself .

This blog post isn't fishing for “but you’re so pretty.”

I don’t need people to tell me I'm pretty. I don’t need that type of validation.  By societal standards, I know I am not unfortunate looking.  What I need is to believe it myself.  It won’t mean ANYTHING if I hear it from a reader or a colleague or a guy who wolf-whistles on the subway, I am determined---as I step forward and forward --- on this ever-challenging journey to get to the place where these moments, this degrading self-talk, this harmful and hopeless and insane way I view myself ---- is evened out.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance : A Heartbeat Away by S. Dionne Moore

Just received this one in the mail so won't be able to post a review yet... but here is the information needed to check the book out:

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Heartbeat Away

Abingdon Press (May 1, 2013)


S. Dionne Moore


S. Dionne Moore started writing in 2006. Her first book, Murder on the Ol’ Bunions, was contracted for publication by Barbour Publishing in 2008. In 2009 she moved on to writing historical romances as an outlet for her passion for history. In 2010 her second cozy mystery, Polly Dent Loses Grip, was a 2010 Carol Award finalist and she was also named a Barbour Publishing 2010 Favorite New Author. In 2011 her first historical romance, Promise of Tomorrow, was nominated a 2011 Carol Award finalist.

Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, Moore moved to Greencastle, PA in 1993, then to Mercersburg in 2009. Moore enjoys life in the historically rich Cumberland Valley where traffic jams are a thing of the past and there are only two stoplights in the whole town.

For more information, visit her Website at
Follow her on Twitter: @sdionnemoore


When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam.

Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heartbeat Away, go HERE.

Watch the video:

AHeartbeatAway - Medium from S. Dionne Moore on Vimeo.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Litfuse Blog Tour: Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade

Meg Coles’s life changed forever upon her father’s passing.

The latest in a long line of generations of oil moguls, it is up to Meg to oversee the family fortune and business--- The first woman to do so since the Cole name struck gold.   Ridden by anxiety, unsure of her next step and un-invested in the big wide world that she has just inherited, Meg would far rather spend her time learning what God would have her do, listening to her compassionate and emotional side and stepping out of the pre-set life her father’s wealth and influence has dictated for her.

Her first order of business is to close the horse ranch and dispense of the animals and its workers.  She doesn’t see how this investment is a prime one for her future has head of the estate; but Bo Porter has a different idea.  For Bo and his veteran brother Jake, the horse ranch is far more than just a means of employment: it is sustenance---mentally and spiritually--- and boasts a communal feel they’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.  To add, the horse farm has been a god-send therapeutically for the outwardly and inwardly scarred Jake. 

Meg and Bo strike a deal and he finds himself with six months to prove the asset of the farm. What Meg doesn’t count on is the lightning-flash attraction to Bo: a man who can slow her heartbeat---often quickened with anxiety---and calm her ragged nerves. Bo, on the other hand, cannot believe that a lady as highbred as Meg would look his way; but their instantaneous chemistry proves difficult to rationalize.

Both are brought more tightly together in their common concern for Amber, a single mother and her adorable---if precocious--- little son.  When an unwanted blast from Meg’s past arrives on the scene, Meg and Bo learn what’s worth fighting for---horses, ranches and love; while growing closer to God—and each other ---in the process.

From a written perspective, this is a stronger and more solidly paced offering than Wade’s first CBA romance My Foolish Heart. She is more competent with her pen and I applaud her ability to colour outside the lines with sparkly phrases, irregular meters in dialogue, and the bounce of narrative perspective.  She certainly has an affinity for the high-class/low-class romance and loves herself a rugged cowboy.

While, as mentioned, I applaud her experimentation, I was a little disenchanted by the multiple use of several points of view.  While Meg and Bo’s were understandable, I had no need as reader to learn more about Meg’s sociopathic ex Stephen and was disgruntled every time the ball shifted to his court.  Meg’s reminiscences and Meg and Amber’s discussions about him would more than have sufficed for backstory purposes.

I must also note that while Meg was a surprisingly well-rounded character for a heroine of her ilk (rich, well-dressed, picturesque lady)  and her vulnerability, especially in moments of tension and anxiety, was well-explored. Bo, on the other hand, near put me to sleep.  He’s a nice enough guy; but there wasn’t anything to spark my interest in him. No sizzle moment, no meet-cute, no giggle and snort scene of barrier-dissension and true love explored.

Now, that being said, Bo is not my type of hero. At all.  The rugged all-American cowboy guy has never done anything for me and I cite this for the luke-warm feeling I had with the hockey-player-hero in My Foolish Heart.   You, on the other hand, might find him quite a dish; so my opinion of him should not deter you from the book at all.   There’s a delightful character in periphery---Brimm--- a math-geek professorial type--- who immediately caught my eye and spurned a delightful little glint in it.

This is a well-written novel for the most part and a competent follow-up to My Foolish Heart.  Chicklit isn’t my first genre of choice and I have a feeling that might seep into my review somewhat; but if you are a fan of contemporary romances and, well, cowboys and Reese Witherspoon movies then consider yourself informed---this will float your boat!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chronicles of my First Draft Part III

Sometimes when people are writing they listen to wordless music--soundtracks to epic movies, Mozart, soft jazz, the incessant tap of the pads of their fingers on the keyboard, revelling in the silence of creativity.

While writing I listen to a melange of things. My playlist backdrops---like my musical tastes---are eclectic.

I am also someone who strums music interconnected with my memory through my mental canvas. Music is a big trigger to thought and time and place and space for me and it sweeps me, pinpoints me, understands me and paints my borders bright.

I'll often make a playlist for a certain month depending on my feel and for the certain battery fluid formula I need to get my creative juices flowing.

For Sound Beyond Hearing my playlist has been the ultimate discordant dis-jointed dyslexic smorgasbord of sounds and tunes saddled and riddled with NOTHING to do with a major disaster.


Take a look at this snapshot. Embarrassing, eh?  But that is what has propelled me forward---especially when I get to the travesty and weight of the greatest man made disaster before the Atomic Bomb.

Okay, but it gets even WORSE.  When I am not listening to this hodge-podge, I am on songza or Grooveshark listening to Boy Bands, 1990s hits and .... I can't even..... ugh.

yes. this includes BoysIIMen

But then I get in a wistful mellow mood and only one of the two following will help:

So I guess the moral of the story is.... Judge Not!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Litfuse Blog Tour: When Jesus Wept by Brock and Bodie Thoene

The Thoenes never disappoint. Their painstaking research, passion for Israel and its compelling history and keen ability to breathe life into Biblical settings leaves me in constant awe.

But, alas, my schedule has been disappointing. What with a full-time job and trying my hand at this author thing, I have fallen behind in my reading and, unfortunately, have not yet completed this book I have been so anxious for.

While it's still fresh in everyone's minds and continually showing up on the  ECPA best-seller lists each week, I wanted to ensure that my readership knew it was out there and available NOW...even if your friendly neighbourhood Rachel has fallen a bit behind.

Our friends at Litfuse offered a Chat with Brock and Bodie regarding the story and... if you missed it... you can catch up by visiting the still-existing facebook site here  . If you're anything like me, you enjoy the moment when readers as voraciously passionate about the written word as yourself have a moment to zealously squeal with the authors of said words.
Check out the Litfuse Landing page 
Visit Bodie and Brock on the web

About the Book:

Book 1 in the Thoene’s new  Jerusalem Chronicles.
Brock and Bodie Thoene’s most powerful and climactic writing project to date, When Jesus Wept, captures the power and the passion of the men and women who lived through the most important days in the history of the world.
Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus’ ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament.
Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more.

It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist is a popular author. We all know this.  Her Baker published books placed spunky women in historical circumstances, taming the men they were often forced into relationships with (see Bridge Most Begrudging, Measure of a Lady, etc.,). Gist was a bit hit and miss with me, but she always wrote some sparkly, memorable scenes. I’ve read every one of her published novels thus far.

Her new release with Howard Books is her best so far. By far. A spicy, sexy (yes, swoon ladies, swoon: this is the spiciest Christian historical I have read) and fun romp through the famous Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Cullen McNamara is a sweet farmboy from South Carolina whose proud father sponsors his exhibit at the fair so he can show off his water sprinkler invention. While there, on his first day, he experiences a sweet meet-cute amidst the throng with Della Wentworth. Della is charmed by his gentlemanly manners, but remembering her father’s caution as to the wary intent of young men, escapes from him.

Cullen sets up his exhibit and finds he has trouble hearing prospective patrons with their prospective patents over the loud machinery in proximity. A friend suggests he visit the lip reading teacher who has set up a school for the hard of hearing ---children who are learning within the fairgrounds.  Surprised to find his acquaintance again and delighted that she is even prettier than he could have thought, Cullen makes her a deal: she will have an escort to see all of the delights of the fair after work each day if she will teach him sign language.

Now, this is where the story excels: there are several World Fair books in the CBA ( my  favourite A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin,  The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport, etc., ) but those use the setting in periphery to add to plots established greater elsewhere. Gist sets most of the action of the novel on the fairgrounds, interspersing each chapter with cunning ephemera: pictures of the fair, anecdotes, maps and descriptions.  This is so well researched and so well plotted you feel like you are wandering through the grounds with Cullen and Della and seeing it through their eyes: from a dutch café boasting hot chocolate, to an unexpected fire that throws Cullen and his friends in the midst of danger. To add, Gist’s obvious research into signing and lip-reading and the methods in which they were taught and employed in the late 19th century was fascinating.

To add, both characters find self-discovery outside of the usual realm of romance during their time at the fair: a lot is riding on Cullen’s father’s investment in his sprinkler system and Della is adamant that lip-reading, approved by Alexander Graham Bell, is a preferable method for those hard of hearing than signing.  When Cullen mentions that he feel he possesses degenerative hearing, Della’s work with him because more imminent.

There are a few historical personages as clever cameos:  Graham Bell, for one, Helen Keller as another. But, smartly, they are mentioned in hearsay and Gist doesn’t attempt to establish their characters with supposed dimension.

Now, back to the swooning I mentioned earlier. There is one delicious scene where Della challenges Cullen to prove he is a farmer. In this slow, languid and spicy moment, Gist pushes the edges of chemistry and palpable tension while still remembering her target demographic. The edge is there if you want to read it and the physical attraction between the two ( made more so confusing for Cullen who has a sweetheart back home) will surprise readers of a lot of CBA romance.

 I think many fans of Christian historical romance will want to put this on their must-read list! 

It Happened at the Fair  releases in April through Howard Books and is available for pre-order.
A short novella, Tempest in the White City : a prelude to this novel is slated to pub on March 19. Here it is at amazon

I would like to thank Howard Books and Netgalley for the review copy. With thanks to LITFUSE

visit the Landing Page 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Avoiding the Internet Black hole of Doom: you flung your written soul into the world, you deserve cute gifs of cats

This past winter I sent out my first ever query

While I was waiting for my agent to respond, I was sucked into the internet vortex....

Do you remember in school waiting for an exam to start when the room was abuzz with people comparatively speaking to study notes? It was enough to send anyone into cardiac arrest: " Did you study this? Did you study this? I studied this because he said that it would be on the test and….

I felt very much the same when I was addicted to googling agency blogs and experiences, reading other prospective author’s one sheets and queries and falling into a web of comments.

Don’t get me wrong, the internet has been an invaluable resource as I have kick-started my writing journey. Success stories, tips and hints, agency blogs and query and proposal samples helped me craft my own proposal and most recently my first one-sheet.

But, there was a brief period of time when my incessant searching was more detrimental than encouraging. Having already emailed my query and then my first pages, I would flit and fright and fuss while comparing what I had done with what others had done.

I second-guessed everything and stirred myself into a frenzy of worry.

I wanted to recall the emails I had sent to my agent and scrap and start fresh.  I wanted to curl into myself like a turtle and give up writing altogether.  I could cross-stitch, I could take up water colours, I could learn to sculpt beavers out of soap stone…

Writing takes a lot of self-confidence, putting yourself out there takes a lot of self-confidence; but it also takes a lot of integrity and personality. YOUR personality.   You are not like other authors. You may relatively compare to them in your themes, story and structure; but no two authors are alike, no two experiences are alike and no two success or failure stories are alike. By spending time measuring and weighing myself against the rubric of what I found in the writing community online, I lost sight of the fact that what made my work special was the fact that it was mine.  That  my lovely little unique stamp was on my story idea and my bio and my query and then my proposal. No one else’s.

The internet is a wonderful tool.  I love the author community I have met and the friendships I have nurtured and the inadvertent mentorship I have found. I love the tidbits and encouragement and suggestions and tools and I love reading agent and author and publishing blogs. I am obsessed with this world and think that the start of my journey has been stronger because of it.

But, there is a fine line between using the internet as a step ladder to achieve your goal and using it as a crutch to nurse your own insecurities and help you fall into a net of feeling not good enough. Not ready enough. Not original enough. Not up to snuff.

There has to be balance, I think.   For those of you waiting on word: from an agent, from an editor, I suggest you take a break. You’ve done a lot of hard work. You have put yourself out there, you have taken all the reams of self-confidence you are not sure you ever had and flung  your ideas and your precious little book world out into the universe. You deserve a break where you’re not consistently second-guessing yourself.  Bury yourself in encouragement.  Talk to author friends about something other than the cut-throat and insecure world of publishing. Instead, geek out on the adrenaline-fused, endorphin-surging power of fresh ideas, falling steadfastly, hopelessly in love with the next character sprouting in your mind, reading books and articles and websites that make you strive to be a better writer while not forcing you to acknowledge any deficits you worry about in your own journey.

Or… take a few weeks and ignore anything about the written word online and google pictures of cute cats or otters who look like BenedictCumberbatch.

Time well spent .

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are you talking to me? : how character voices, narrative perspectives and style evolve in my writing process

When the first kernel of the novel I am working on now ( More Worthy of Heaven) sprouted in my head, I had no idea it would spring into full bloom in….FIRST PERSON NARRATIVE.

As a historical author, I find first person very challenging. First person present completely unachievable.

But, after I had scribbled a prologue one afternoon in an old notebook as the threads of thoughts started to sew into something of colour and shape,  Elyse’s voice just began talking to me.

...She talked directly to me. Her narrative expelled itself into my head.   Then, suddenly, I had Gabriel ---my forgeron, my blacksmith, talking to me and he wanted to tell his side of the story in his own words.

any chance to use a snapshot of Merlin being bookish....

Now I had two narrative voices bouncing back and forth. Sometimes offering commentary on overlapping action, sometimes adding their own vulnerability, spicing up their own presentation of an event come to pass….

On the weekend, Nathaniel Tavington, the British redcoat who becomes the object of Elyse’s forbidden affections,  wrote a few letters home to England on scrips and scraps of paper with the dripping nub of his goose-feather pen.

All of the above are tricky. They are difficult. I am forever having to go back at the end of a chapter and check for tenses and make sure that the action is very much ( as it should be even when in the supposition of first person narrative) in deep p.o.v.     But, Nathaniel gives me a bit of an out.    The first part of the story tells of the chafing culture of L'Acadiens: settled farmers who work in equality and prosperity, peaceful and with great ties to their old land of France and their culture and the threat of the English redcoats to force them to surrender to the crown.   British Garrisons and forts, their cloistered quarters and their slovenly manners and sweat-stained reek of drink, idleness and, well, sheer boredom between battle, fascinate me and have oft been a subject of my reading.

By having Nathaniel, the only English voice in my novel, offer glimpse into his world and his life  serves me well because although his race is very much the enemy in this story, I want to ensure that he doesn’t become a caricature, that Elyse’s fascination with him is well-founded, that the reader is able to glean some semblance of sympathy even though their affections may not always be hoisted in his direction.

What brings me to ramble about this is a bit of an ode to the creative juices that slosh around in my brain now and then.  This is the reason I love writing. It is a jolt. An addiction and it is an unexpected pounce of adrenaline at opportune (sitting at a coffee shop with a blank sheet and plenty of time ) and inopportune (waking up at 3:30 a.m. on a work night and diving for my pen and a postit to scribble things I may not be able to make coherent sense of come morning ) moments.   My favourite, favourite part of writing is when the characters reveal themselves to me: their purposes, their motivations ,their likes and dislikes, their passions and their vulnerabiltiies.

In the aforementioned case, they even told me how they wanted their voices to be heard; and, most importantly, that they wanted a chance at perspective.  They have a story to tell and I as their intrepid portal, their obliging vessel, have the opportunity to give it a good shot.

 I must confess to having completely fallen in love (head over heels ) for Gabriel in my little story.  He pops up in my brain and talks in his gruff French accent while swigging a hard-earned drought of ale at the end of a hot day, caressing the fur of Bottes, his petite three-legged cat and I think he likes me too.  He has an eyebrow that raises now and then and his smile is hard-earned, his laugh even more so; but when they finally sluice through my conscious, it is more than delicious.

I can smell his little cabin and see the sheen of sweat and soot on his brow, as bespeaks his profession.  He gets to act quite heroic in the second part of the story ---which I have not quite written yet--- and I know he does not know, as I omniscient tale-teller do, all of the adventures that await. I sense he is a little apprehensive, a little tortured and worried over his current state; but he need not be.  I have a great path for him---not always smooth, and jutting through a few forks and crevices; but I promise him some happiness out of it all. That’s what we romantic sorts do.

If you want to see more of Gabriel and Elyse’s world, including how I "cast" them in my head, check out my evolving Pinterest board 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Books in the NEWS!

Hi Friends!

First off, the lovely and talented Sarah Loudin Thomas signed a contract ---a three book contract at that--- with Bethany House and I cannot WAIT to read her work. I am kinda a fan already.  Her synopses read highly symbolic; perhaps with a touch of magic realism and she is certain to prove a fresh voice in the realm of Christian fiction.

Secondly, one of my most anticipated books this year Burning Sky by delightful author Lori Benton is available for a two-chapter sneakpeek through Waterbrook/Multnomah.

So, there you have it. Mondays are not so bad after all.

Oh, and in case you are a rabid Vienna Prelude fan like myself and wanna weigh in on casting/location decisions for the movie all the fans should make (what's that site? the one where they raised money for Veronica Mars) well you are welcome to join the new Pinterest board I created. la la la la la.
Elisa and Murphy. Sigh.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pinterest and my Novels

Hi all,

I have a Pinterest account now ( I am, like, the last person alive to get one ) and I love all of the pretty pictures; but mostly I like that I can capture the essence of my first novel, A Sound Beyond Hearing and the novel I am currently working on,  More Worthy of Heaven.

The first title is taken from Hugh MacLennan's Barometer Rising: the definitive fictional work on the Halifax Explosion of 1917.  But, ASBH is set during a time when the world was rife with several interesting events. Under Arthur Currie, the Canadians were forging forward on the frontlines in Belgium and France as part of the Great War, and the looming impact of the Titanic sinking was still breathed and whispered among the residents of Halifax.

Halifax was a major seaport--thrust into livelihood and industry with the war as the ships prepared to go overseas.  The Americans had just joined a war we had been fighting since 1914 and our Prime Minister granted the right to vote to some women...but not all.

I hope that the pictures give you a bit of the essence of the time period.  It was a very, very exciting historical period culminating in the largest man made explosion in history (Which, later, would ironically help in the creation of the atomic bomb).

The American connection to the Halifax story is also quite interesting. Boston sent tons of aide --carte blanche---and several nurses and doctors. To this day, Haligonians send a Christmas tree to Boston ever year to commemorate their help in the days following the explosion.

I have just started work on my second novel of this thematic series entitled More Worthy of Heaven  a line taken from Longfellow's poem Evangeline about the Expulsion of the Acadians in the 1750s and the diaspora to Louisiana and the beginning of the Cajun culture ( the term Cajun is derived from Acadian).

There is so much flavour to the
Acadian history in Nova Scotia and my characters eventually make the trek from their home in Eastern Canada to Louisiana and experience the temperamental climate changes from the crisp sea air to the murky, boggy swamps of the Louisiana marshlands as they traipse their culture and folklore to a new world.

I hope someday to share these stories fictionally with you.  And, to help you learn about some lesser-known but fascinating tenets of Canadian history and how they influenced American culture.

Check out the evolving boards :)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

On the significance of editors....

My little book is at large--- in the big wide world with publishers.

And while my agent and I keep our fingers crossed that it finds a happy home, I have started working on my next novel.  Which, to tell you the truth, has been a lot of fun thus far.  It’s all stitching up quite "spade work", as LM Montgomery calls it...of plotting and mapping and digging and sewing.

This entire process of revising and line-editing a manuscript, of finishing a proposal and sending it out into the world has made me contemplate the entire process a lot….and, recently, how important it is for a writer to have a good editor. Indeed, when I first compiled a mental list of publishers I would love to eventually work with, the editor names I recognized and respected were one of the reasons for my initial geek-out

As gifted as we think good writers are ; editors possess an equally important talent.

I do some work for Breakpoint and my editor there is Gina--- who, fortunately, happens to be a.) one of my favourite people on the planet b.) an impeccable editor.  She makes me look smarter than I really am.

I am beginning to pinpoint a few of the exceptional qualities of a good editor and treasuring them not as a voice to change my intent; but to capture the gist of my work and help bring it out in its best light.

Editors are conductors of light.  We have the stuff, they hone in and make it something even better.  They understand, think, mull and help drive you to pair the best ideas with the best words and phrases and sentences. They know when to say too much or too little, they challenge you to polish and distill your writing.

 A good editor….

Knows that often less is more

A good editor …

Has the ability to nudge you: Ahhh! This is what you mean; now give it scope and finesse

A good editor….

Polishes your writing without every losing its integrity or undercurrent

A good editor...

Checks in with you and welcomes your input as they extract or add to your work. They don't make changes without your sign-off or giving you the opportunity to fix and tweak

A good editor…

 challenges you so that you want to write better so that the next time you submit to them 

If you want to see an example of good editing, check out my review of Iron Man 3 at Breakpoint

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

JACK ABSOLUTE is back and I am hosting a little giveaway

Guys, I love Jack Absolute !  Totally my university fictional crush. x100.

Now, Jack and Ate have found a new publisher-- our friends at SourceBooks and hopefully will gain a wide, wider, widest readership so that we will get more Jack! and more Ate! ( especially more Ate).

I am offering a bit of a giveaway for American and Canadian readers on the blog here as well as a sneak peek of the first chapter (which has one of the best openings ever )

Two ! TWO ! lucky readers will get the chance to escape into Canadian history with Jack and Ate and their lovely, stupendous adventures.

All YOU have to do is comment and tell me what your favourite line in Hamlet is and why

(why Hamlet? Read the book)

Follow CC Humphreys on twitter 
visit CC Humphreys on le Web

Like, I can't ... I can't even.... gah! guys I love this book so much!

Chapter One
An Affair of Honor
The snow lay deep over Hounslow Heath and the light was failing fast. They were already late, a double annoyance to Jack Absolute; not only was it considered ungentlemanly to keep people waiting for such an affair, but it also meant that by the time the ground had been reached, the Seconds introduced, the area marked out, and the formalities dealt with as to wills and burials, it would be too dark for pistols. It would have to be swords; and by the look of him, his opponent was in fighting trim. If he wasn’t twenty years younger than Jack he wasn’t far off and, as a serving cavalry officer, would be fencing daily; while it was five years at the least since Jack had fought in such a manner. With a variety of other weapons, to be sure. But a tomahawk or a Mysore punch dagger had a very different feel to them than the delicate touch required for the small sword. Of course, one could only be killed with the point; it had no cutting edge. But the point, as Jack knew all too well, was all that was required.
As his feet slipped yet again on the icy boot prints of those who had preceded him, Jack cursed. How large will the damned crowd be? The affair could hardly have been announced more publicly, and many would choose to attend such a fashionable fight. Money would already have been staked. He wondered at the odds. Like an older racehorse, Jack had form. He had “killed his man”—in fact, in the plural, several more than these gentlemen of London could know about. But his opponent was certainly younger, probably stronger, and above all, inflamed with the passion of wronged ardor. He fought for a cause. For love.
And Jack? Jack fought only because he’d been too stupid to avoid the challenge.
He sniffed. To top it all, he suspected he was getting a cold. He wanted to be warm in the snug at King’s Coffee House, a pot of mulled ale in his hand. Not slip-sliding his way across a frozen common to maiming or a possible death.
“Is it five or six duels you have fought, Daganoweda?”
Jack, whose eyes had been fixed on the placing of his own feet, now glanced at the speaker’s. Their nakedness seemed like vanity, especially as Jack knew his companion had a fine pair of fleece-lined boots back in their rooms in St. Giles. However, Até would never pass up such an opportunity to display the superior toughness of the Iroquois Indian. The rest of him would probably have been naked too had Jack not warned him that ladies might attend. The concession had been fawn-skin leggings, beaded and tasseled, and a Chinese silk vest that scarcely concealed his huge chest or obscured the tattoos wreathed around his muscles. Midnight-black hair fell in waves to his almost bare shoulders. Just looking at him made Jack shiver all the more, and he pulled his cloak even tighter around him.
“Six duels, Atédawenete. As I am sure you well remember. Including the one against you.”
“Oh,” Até turned to him, his brown eyes afire, “you count a fight against a ‘savage,’ do you? I am honored.”
The Indian made the slightest of bows. Iroquois was a language made for irony. Jack had had too much cognac the night before—the first error in an evening of them—and a duel of wits was one conflict he could live without today. So he reverted to English.
“What is it, Até? Homesick again?”
“I was thinking, brother, that if this young brave kills you—as is very likely since he is half your age and looks twice as vigorous—how then will I buy passage to return to my home across the water, which you have kept me from these eleven years?”
“Don’t concern yourself with that, brother. Our friend here will give you the money. It’s the least he can do. He owes me after all, don’t you, Sherry?”
This last was addressed over his shoulder to the gentleman acting as his First-Second, as the hierarchy of duels had it. The dark-haired young man was struggling to keep pace with his taller companions, his face alternately green and the palest of yellows. The previous evening, Richard Brinsley Sheridan had drunk even more cognac than Jack.
“Ah, money, Jack, yes. Always a wee bit of a problem there.” Though he had left Ireland as a boy, a slight native brogue still crept in, especially in moments of exertion. “But, of course, you’ll be triumphant today, so the need will not arise. And in the meantime, can you and your fine-looking friend speak more of that marvelous language? I may understand not a word, but the cadences are exquisite.”
Jack pulled a large, soiled square of linen from his pocket and blew his nose hard. “Careful, Até, you’ll be in one of his plays next. And we all know where that can lead.”
The playwright wiped an edge of his cloak across a slick brow, sweating despite the chill. “How many more times can I apologize? As I said, you were thought dead and thus your mellifluous name was free to appropriate.”
“Well, I may be dead soon enough. So your conscience may not be a bother too much longer,” Jack muttered. He had caught sight of movement through a screen of trees ahead.
If the crowd’s big enough, he thought, perhaps even the incompetent Watch might have heard of it and turn up to prevent this illegality. Once he would have objected vigorously to any attempt by the authorities to restrict his right to fight. Once…when he was as young as his adversary, perhaps. Now he could only hope that the Magistrates’ intelligence had improved.
But no reassuring Watchmen greeted Jack, just two dozen gentlemen in cloaks of brown or green, a few red-coated army officers, and, in the center of the party, wearing just a shirt, the man who had challenged him—Banastre Tarleton. Jack was again startled by his face. The youth—he could be no more than eighteen—was possessed of an almost feminine beauty, with thickly lashed eyes and chestnut curls failing to be constrained by a pink ribbon. But there was no hint of a lady’s fragility in his movements, laughing as he lunged forward with an imaginary sword.
He looks as if he is on a green about to play a game of cricket, Jack thought, and he wondered if it was the cold that made him shrug ever deeper into his cloak. He glanced around the circle of excited faces that turned to him. No women, at least. Not even the cause of this whole affair, that little minx, Elizabeth Farren. The hour was too close to the lighting of the footlights at Drury Lane and her show must go on. Yet how she would have loved playing this scene. The sighs, the sobs wrenched from her troubled—and artfully revealed, carefully highlighted—bosom, as she watched two lovers do battle for her. She would be terribly brave one moment, close to fainting the next.
An actress. He was going to be killed over an actress. It was like one of Sheridan’s bloody comedies, not dissimilar to the one in which the playwright had made him the unwitting star. It was an irony perhaps only an Iroquois could fully appreciate. For if Sheridan hadn’t used his name in The Rivals, if Jack hadn’t then felt it necessary to watch some posturing actor play “him,” if he hadn’t succumbed, yet again, to the effects of brandy and the actress playing the maid, and if she wasn’t already beloved by this brash, stupid, handsome, young officer…
Até and Sheridan had moved across to commence the business, and Jack noted the two men with whom his companions were discussing terms. One, an ensign in the resplendent, gold-laced uniform of the Coldstream Guards, was talking loudly and waving his arms about. Yet it was the other, Tarleton’s Second-Second, who held Jack’s attention. He was standing behind and slightly to the side, his will seemingly focused, not on the details of the duel, but entirely forward onto Jack, just as it had been the previous night, when his soft whispers had urged Tarleton on. This man had the sober but expensive dress of a rich cleric, the long, pale face of a scholar. And looking now at the man he’d heard named the Count von Schlaben, even in the poor light of a winter sunset, Jack could see that this man desired his death as much as the youth who had challenged him; perhaps even more. And in that moment of recognition, Jack knew that there was more than actresses involved and that honor was only a small part of this affair.

If I am about to die, he thought, looking away and up into the cloud-racked March sky, the least I can do is to understand why.
Something had occurred the previous night at the theater, aside from the play and the challenge. Something that had brought them all here to this snowy common. So it was back to Drury Lane that Jack’s mind went, in the few moments before the formalities were settled, and the dying began.