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Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

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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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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So.. I am entering my first contest.

It is a Cliffhanger contest by writer Brenda Drake.  It’s a very cool premise, and I thought I ‘d give it a whirl.  (nervous, much?)

Since my story is about time travel, I thought it would be a cool thing to post the actual “travel”.  The set up is Hope, a fifteen year old girl, has discovered that she must journey into the past to save her mother.  Trained by her Aunt Lucinda and assisted by her friend Phoebe- who has magic- Hope must surrender herself to “the Dim” the horrifying passageway into the past. She wears an ancient opal ring, which allows her to “steer”, and more importantly, to return.

Here.. they begin the ritual..

HOPE-scene..

Phoebe patted my cheek and stepped away.

“All right, lovey. Let’s do this. It’s almost sunrise.” She said, her voice shaking slightly.
The scent of wet earth was so thick I could barely breathe. Raising my hand to just above my head, I traced the strange carvings that covered every inch of the low, claustrophobic cave.
Phoebe’s voice was weak as she sang the opening notes of the song; something between a monk’s chant and a Celtic ballad, that would bring the Dim to life.  As the sound echoed around me, bouncing off the walls, it picked up strength. Louder and louder until I could feel the notes drumming against my bones. The hair on my arms stood up.
When the last echo died, I cracked one eyelid. The earth pressed down on us from above. The dank wind which had whirled my skirts around me out of the man-sized opening of the abyss halted, as if holding its breath.
Before I could ask why it didn’t work, everything reversed violently. All the air was sucked out of me. My skirt and hair began blowing towards the Dim; pulling me in, calling me.

When the tiny pinprick of red first appeared between my fingers, I was supposed to walk to the opening. But, my legs were as frozen as the stone walls. They would not obey.
Brighter and brighter, the light became thick, as if it had…substance. As the cold brilliance clung to my skin and began inching up my arm, I panicked. I tried flinging it off, like some nasty, sticky object that I’d accidently touched in a convenience store restroom. My breaths became shallow screams.

Phoebe touched my arm and began the final notes of the song. The beauty of her voice gave me the bit of courage I needed. I looked into her anxious face, blushed with the scarlet light. I gulped, nodded.
The light sped up my arm and across my chest. It dripped down my front and cascaded down my back, cold as black ice. My head was whirling as I stepped to the boundary of the Dim’s darkness. The eerie wind was pulling at me, wanting me. I was so cold, so confused that for an instant, I thought I heard someone screaming my name, over and over. The cold, syrupy, red brilliance sped up my throat and spilled over my lips, filling my mouth.
I staggered and turned, the back of my heels teetering on the cliff’s edge of the Dim. There was a voice in the wind. Two. Dozens. Hundreds. Thousands of voices behind me. They were so loud I wanted to cover my ears as they screamed. The noise filled my skull, almost splitting it open. I opened my arms and started the backwards fall, letting the magic of the Dim take me. Take me to the past. Take me to my mother. Anything to make the voices stop.
Alex burst through entrance to the cave, his eyes frantic.
“Hope! No!”

THAT’S IT… What do ya’ll  think???

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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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I got some really good news Saturday. I submitted my first short story to an e-zine and it was accepted for publication. I know it is not that big of a deal to most people, but to me, it proved that at least my writing doesn’t completely suck.

I think that is important…  not sucking.

I am an “aspiring” author. Hmm.. What does that mean exactly?

The dictionary says:

as·pire

http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [uh-spahyuhr]

to long, aim, or seek ambitiously; be eagerly desirous, esp. for something great or of high value (usually fol. by to, after,or an infinitive): to aspire after literary immortality;

Ahhh… Part of the dictionary’s definition… To aspire after literary immortality.. Immortality???    Woowee! THAT is a BIG aspiration!

I think I will shoot a little lower.

I want people  to read what I write. I want them to sink themselves into the world that I create. I want them to hide from their children in the bathroom, so they can finish one of my chapters.

There are an awful lot of us “aspirings” out there. The question is, how to I rise out of the obscure pack?

Obviously, the writing has to be good. Or actually, more than good. It has to be phenomenal.

I have mentioned how naïve I was when I started this journey. I thought if you wrote a good book, you got published. Well, apparently, there is a lot more to it. You must also build a “social platform”, have lots of followers on Twitter and have a large Facebook page. I wonder how large of a Twitter  following Dickens would have? Or how many Facebook friends Tolstoy could cultivate?  What would have been their social media strategy ?

I am a toddler in the Twitter world. As an (ahem) forty-something, I feel awkward trying to break into that world. It seems too hip, too cool for an old broad like me. When I announced to my teenagers that I now “twittered”, they first gagged a little, then informed me, acidly, that it was “Tweeting, Mom. Duh..”

So, here I go. I will face this electronic world. I am going to jump in with both feet, and just hope that I don’t embarrass myself by being a ginormous nerd.

Except.. aren’t nerds cool, now?

Here is a tiny excerpt from my Manuscript.  What do you guys think????

This time I dreamed of Alex. Only the dreams were not of our time together, but strange, disjointed images.

He stood across from me, near a wide, flat river. Palm trees swayed in a hot breeze; and behind him, a huge pyramid rose out of the desert.
He wore a bronze breastplate and the plumed helmet of a Roman soldier. The gritty wind whipped my long, white robes and black braids around me. Alex grinned and held out his hand. In his palm rested a huge opal.
As I reached for it, the scene changed to winter. Snow covered a hilly landscape and we were clothed in plush, smooth furs. He tried to push the stone toward me again, but as I stretched out my hand to grasp it; he melted away to be replaced by Lucien. Dressed in the dandified clothes of a French aristocrat, he threw his head back in a cruel laugh. His unnaturally red lips were clownish against his white, powdered cheeks and black beauty mark. I turned to run, but my wide skirts wouldn’t allow me to turn quickly. My head was so heavy under the tall, white wig.
Only a few feet away, Alex struggled, his arms pinned behind him. Scratches covered his chest, where his white-frilled shirt gaped open. His autumn brown hair had escaped the low ponytail and hung in straggles around his blood-covered face. Someone grabbed me from behind, pulling me away as he screamed my name.
I sat up, panting and sweating, and then wished I hadn’t.

BTW>> I added on some of my favorite blog sites, and also some of the books I have read in the last year. With working on my own book, I’ve had less time to read, which is SO not cool! I LOVE “literature”, but sometimes you have to concentrate too hard. All these books are pure pleasure.

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I had a good day today.

I don’t think we know how precious that is, in this time. We are always so scheduled, so rushed, so planned.

I know that most of my time is spent trying to figure out what I have to do next or what I didn’t get done.

Today, I devoted to writing. And it was one of the most pleasurable days I have spent in a long time.

Sometimes I allow myself to daydream that I am one of the lucky few who write for a living. I realize that is a far-fetched fantasy, but hey.. A girl is allowed to dream. When I drift off into this world, I have a little office, with a pretty view. There is a lovely antique desk and a huge, fat cat to keep me company. Of course, no husband or kids will be allowed into “the author’s” inner sanctum.

Now, I know the chances of this ever happening is remote at best. But, I hit a hot streak in my work today and I felt so good about it, that I said to myself.

“Janet. I am going to allow you to have the author daydream today. Sit there and enjoy yourself. You go girl.”

Ahhhhh….

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One thing I know about becoming a published author.

I know that I don’t know squat.

I had no clue what it involves. I naïvely thought that you:

A) Write an interesting story.

B)  Print it out.

C)  Send it off to some big ole publishing house in New York City.

D) Eureka! You are the next J.K. Rowling.

Ok. All of you in the know may now laugh. All right, all right. Got that out of your system?

I am learning that it is hard to get published. Like… hard…

There are more steps to this thing than the freakin’ Washington monument, and it doesn’t matter a whole hill of beans how good you are. You have to be lucky. You must promote yourself. You need get to know people who know people. You gotta beg, borrow, steal.. (well, maybe not steal, since that might be construed as plagiarism and that is a bit frowned on in this business).

I am such a virgin. The more I research I do, the more discouraged and stupid I feel. I worry that it won’t matter if I write the next “War and Peace”, no one will take the chance to read that dang thing.

Still, I will never give up. I will keep following this dream. I will fight the good fight, and when that big discovery comes, (As it surely must. One can’t keep a talent as staggering as mine from the population , right? That wouldn’t be fair to the world.) I will look back on these days  as innocent and sweet.

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