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Archive for the ‘novel writing’ Category

Hello!

If you are interested, my blog has moved to a new home, a website of the same name.

The link is http://janetbtaylor.com/

 

The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

 

 

Please join me.. And have a beautiful day!

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Hello to  my three blog readers out there- unless you dropped out, Mom…

Mom???

Well, I did it.. I finished the book!

I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself. It took me the same way. The sobbing.. I know, baby.

You back? Okay.

Well.. I finished the first draft of my first novel, A TIME FOR HOPE.  I can’t believe I actually did it.

That— “The End”— just snuck up on me. All these months of living, breathing and bleeding over these people. Wondering what was going to happen to them is all over. You see, I am one of those writers who have NO idea what is going to happen until I write it. Just like this blog.  Flumberty-joggity-hoopdeedoo.  See, I had no idea I was going to do that, either.

Now that I have finished the first draft. I reminds me of a birthday cake.

In case you aren’t aware… A birthday cake is one of the best things in the whole world. Unless you are getting a rockin’ present, the cake’s the best part of any birthday.

Right now my cake is  bare. I mean, you can throw a cake mix in a bowl, chunk it in the oven and slap it down in a little metal cake pan – and still call it a birthday cake. But it ain’t  pretty. That’s what I’ve got right now. A Duncan-Hines yellow. Delicious, yes. But, in need of a lot of frosting.

Now, second draft, and I am  picking off all the burnt pieces and carefully taking out that big damn air bubble that always appears in every cake I’ve ever made. After that, I’ll put down my base frosting, smoothing out as many of the rough patches as I can and round out the sides. Once step two is accomplished, I’m going to send it to my beta readers and my oh-so-lovely and absolutely kick-ass mentor, Susanne Dunlap.

They are going to swoop their fingers through my perfectly smooth icing and poke at the cake beneath.   They will find all those places I where I cheated by filling in with frosting.

When I get it back and fill in all their finger marks (naughty, naughty) it’ll be time for decorating. Prettifying. Color, Almond Flavoring and Sugar Crystals. Anything it needs to sparkle.

Then and only then will I put it up for “Best Cake Contest” in the County Fair of the publishing world. I probably won’t take home the blue ribbon, but if I can get at least one honorable mention, I’ll be happy enough.

I know I have a long, long way to go. I’m know all the frosting in the world (even the kind that comes with built-in rainbow sprinkles) won’t help if the cake is dried out or too soft to hold together.

For today, however, I’m just gonna eat the batter left in the bowl and enjoy that cakey smell.

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f you have watched the news in the last day or two, you have heard of this already. It is one of the weirdest things I have seen in a long time and is perfect for the Halloween season.

Apparently, a filmmaker in Dublin was screening the video extras in a Charlie Chaplin movie from 1928. He saw something that caught his eye, and over the course of a year, studied it. He showed it to over a hundred people and now–through Youtube– over a million have viewed it.

HE explains it far better than I can, and really.. you have to see it to believe it.  I am thrilled!  In a market where everyone who writes Young Adult fiction seems to focus on Werewolves, Vampires or Fairies, I am thisclose to finishing my first manuscript on….you guessed it…. Time Travel.

I hope that this video will draw a little interest toward the concept. Maybe it will help me when I get ready to start querying agents.  (Fingers crossed!!)

Anyway.. Get ready for those chills I promised…  Mwaaa haa haaaaaaaa!

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The horned helmet of Henry VIII

The horned helmet of Henry VIII

 

Hello ,

I have been doing quite a bit of research for my manuscript on those nutty Tudors, and I thought I’d ask for your feedback.  If you know the history, you generally have pretty strong feelings about this subject.  I know I do, so please share yours here. Thanks, Janet B Taylor

TUDOR WIVES-

It is a shame that  Henry VIII is mostly known for killing his wives. He was a brilliant man. Like Bill Clinton, who will ever be remembered for a stained blue dress and a cigar, Henry VIII’s legacy is his matrimonial disaster.

I am not going to go into his positive contributions here, although I would like to in another blog. You can check this out: http://www.the-tudors.org.uk/henry-viii-accomplishments.htm It is no scholarly work, but interesting, nonetheless.

I would like to talk to you today about Henry VIII’s wives. In case you are not familiar with them- here is a list:

Catherine of Aragon– Spanish princess and first wife-and mother of Mary I.  Henry divorced her- and she died alone and heartbroken.

Anne BoleynSecond wife– and some (like me) say – a husband poacher. She gave us the great Elizabeth I, but paid for her sins with her head.

Jane SeymourThird Wife– and the only one to give him his one true wish.. A son, Edward.  Sadly, she died of infection after giving birth.

Anne of ClevesFourth Wife– Sister of a German duke, Henry married her for her connections. When he laid eyes on her, days before the wedding- he was appalled. He claimed she was ugly, stank, and was stupid. They married, but did not consummate. He implemented annulment proceedings almost immediately. Of all his wives-she made out the best, with a nice settlement and the title “Beloved sister of the King.” She outlived Henry.

Catherine Howard- Fifth Wife and Henry’s teenage hottie. Catherine was between fifteen and twenty when she married the aging king. It did not take the promiscuous Catherine long to take lovers behind the king’s back. She was the second wife to lose her head on the block.

Katherine Parr– Henry’s sixth and final wife. She was a mature, educated woman who acted as more of a  nursemaid than a bed partner to the old, ill king.  She ended her reign as a widow.

If you want to read more details about this fascinating period of history- check this out. http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/tudor.htm

 

Now… Here is my question:

I am a first (and only) wife- lucky enough to marry–and stay married to– my high school sweetheart.  My sympathies have always lain with poor Catherine of Aragon.  Catherine and Henry married when they were young and beautiful.  He was nuts about her and even trusted her enough to let her rule his country when he was away. She adored him beyond all things. They were happily married for over twenty years and I believe that Henry always loved Catherine.

Then things went wrong… I think if she had produced a son, instead of one living daughter and a number of heart-rending still-births, he would never have divorced her, Anne Boleyn or no Anne Boleyn.

My mom has a phrase for a woman like Anne- who seems to get all the men she wants with a simple snap of a finger.  “She has a golden snapper.”  I will leave you to interpret that any way you wish, but.. I believe that Anne Boleyn is one of the aforementioned ladies.  {ahem}..

I want to know what you ladies (or guys) think..  To whom do you most relate?

Are you a Catherine, an Anne, a Jane, an Anne, a Catherine or a Katherine???

Who is your favorite Tudor Wife?

As you know,(those three of you who read this blog)… I am working on my first manuscript. I am past the 70,000 word count, now.  I’m getting very close to finishing the first draft. Fingers crossed!!

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In most museums you wander around,  dazed at the beauty and majesty of the things that surround you.

I recently had the honor to visit a different kind of museum. A museum where you feel as if you are actually IN the past.

The Steamboat Arabia Museum in Kansas City, MO.

 

The actual wheel from the Arabia

 

In 1856, the Steamboat Arabia was making its last voyage of the season; before the winter ice closed the Ohio River.  The Arabia was a packet boat. Which means that while it did ferry passengers; its main duty was as a cargo ship. Most of the passengers were women and children, bound to meet  husbands or fathers, who had already gone out west to stake a homestead for them.

The last night of the Arabia’s life, a giant snag (or upended tree trunk) smashed into the hull of the Arabia, causing her and her 200 tons of cargo, to sink in a  matter of minutes.

 

Arabia sinks

 

The good news– The Ohio River is fairly shallow and as the Arabia settled on the bottom of the river; the upper level of the three level boat stayed above the waterline.  It took a while to ferry the passengers to shore, however. It seems there was only one lifeboat and the cowardly crew had taken it, at the first sign of trouble. Ashamed, they eventually came back, and ferried all passengers to safety.

The only casualty- one poor mule, who was tied up on the bottom deck. His entire skeleton, including the harness, is on display in the museum.

You can see all the fascinating history for yourself. In a tiny theater, there is a 10  minute video about the sinking of the Arabia.  The more interesting section of the video, however, is the story of the discovery of the Arabia and its resurrection.

In the 1980’s a family of plumbers heard an old rumor about a steamboat that was supposedly sunk in a field, near the river.  Even though they had zero experience at excavation, the story about how these people found, dug up, and preserved the contents of the steamboat is absolutely riveting.

The coolest part of the whole visit was when the  leader of the discoverers-Mr. Hawley- came out in person to speak to us; and answer any questions we had… A nice and very gracious man.

I love, love, love historical fiction. But, the American pioneer era has never been my favorite historical venue. I usually limit my writing and research to- and around- the English and European  monarchy.  But, this collection touched my heart and piqued my interest.

I can imagine  myself and my children heading out on this rickety old steamboat. We are finally going to join my husband. He has worked so hard to build our log cabin, so we will not freeze in the winter. All our hopes and dreams float with us down this river. In addition, underneath our feet is the entire supply chain of over 40 dry-good stores, in  towns up and down the river.  Merchants  are waiting anxiously for this, the last shipment of the year, to arrive.

 

a tiny portion of the goods

 

When the ship sinks, every worldly good we possess ends up at the bottom of the river. Not only our goods, but thousands of other pioneers will not get new boots, cloth for dresses and coats, dishes ordered from England, tools to work the farm, or countless other items, which the whole town will have to do without.

This ship, when excavated, was in absolutely amazing shape. The Hawley family were able to bring up pristine examples of things used in everyday life in the 1850’s. Things seen no-where else in the country. The sheer amount of goods in the museum is astonishing.

I said before, that I had never really been interested in the pioneer period. After my visit to this museum, however,  I think I’ll try to write about this most miraculous part of our past.

Please visit the website-     http://www.1856.com/

And enjoy your trip to our country’s past. I know I did.

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You are in an awful hurry. You have an extremely important meeting at work. One that could change your career. You might even finally get that raise you deserve.

The doorbell rings right before you walk out the door. An old woman stands on your doorstep.

“You can’t go to work today.” She tells you. “If you do, you will destroy your life, forever.”

“Who are you?” You ask, irritated at the interruption.

“Why,” she says, “I am you. From the future!”

Da.Da..Dunnnnn…

What would you do?

My current (um..and first) manuscript deals with Time Travel.  It is a fascinating subject. The brightest and most brilliant minds of all time spend years studying the possibilities.

See interview HERE of Carl Sagan, describing his TIME TRAVEL theories.

I hope these uber-smart scientists  figure out how to build a time machine, then one day, offer it as a vacation package. Can you imagine? It would be like taking a cruise….to the past.

How flippin’ cool would that be?

Here are a few questions that I have been mulling over.

1.)  Who would you do…  In??

2.)  Who would you want to meet??-Other than your own loved ones.

3.)  What historical event would you like to attend??

For me:

1.)  Now, I know that everyone is going to say Hitler, Genghis Khan or  Pol Pot, and those are great choices.  I, however, am gunning for the first idiot who decided that women should be skinny.  Take a look at Renaissance paintings, sometime. In that age, “full-figured” women were the ideal. Then somewhere in the fabric of time, some doofus told his wife that her butt looked big.  This time, instead of her usual, “Why thank you, dear. What a sweet thing to say.” She must have frowned and decided to have a carrot stick instead of a bon-bon.   Booo!

2.)  That is easy.. Eleanor of Aquitaine.  My all-time favorite person from history.

3.)  This is on the fly, but maybe.. the Wedding of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.  They were both so young and beautiful.

How would you answer these questions?

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While the purpose of most blogs on writing is to inform, I have created this blog to gather information. There are a lot of us “Aspiring Authors” out there, who are trying to learn as we go.

When I began this journey, the only thing that came to  mind when someone mentioned “craft” to me, were Popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue.

That was a beautiful time of innocence, when I wrote simply for the joy it gave me.  In fact, it made me a little sad to learn how much of “art” is actually  “business.”

Once I  committed to taking this journey, however, I determined to give it my all.  So,  I began to do research. The one word that was invariably near the top of the important issues  of nearly every website, tweet or book jacket on writing…. CRAFT.

The problem that I am facing at the present is that there is simply TOO much.  Too  many books.  Too many websites. Too many classes. How do newbies like me EVER make the right decisions?

That may sound ridiculous to any experts, who are used to weeding through the chaff of  information.  We poor little lost “aspirings” flounder.  We helplessly bounce from one site to another, not certain whom to trust.

Who is right?  What is wrong?

It can be a bit overwhelming.  I have already spent WAY too much on books, online workshops, and plan to spend a lot more as soon as I figure out how to choose.

… That is the question…..

HOW DO WE CHOOSE?

Where do  YOU turn for craft advice?

If there are any more Aspiree’s out there, which would like to link to this, I figure we are better off together.  Welcome. 🙂

Thank you and have a beautiful day.

Janet

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