Monday, November 28, 2011

ArabellaArabella by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd never read a Georgette Heyer book before. It was delightful! I'm not sure why I didn't give it five stars. Perhaps because I had to look up so many words! So many Regency era British colloquialisms! There were passages where I hadn't a clue what was being said! At the same time, I was in awe of what must have been some exceedingly serious research into the era.

When I checked into the copyright year I was also in awe. 1949 - the year I was born! 62 years old and this book could have been written yesterday. Again I was in awe. Timeless! The characters are vivid and strong. The plot, while not tremendously original now, still stands because of those characters. Loved it!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Way Behind, but Still Plugging....

Here's another excerpt:

She had all she could take of being bed-ridden and cooped up in that bedroom. She had been “allowed” to sit in the kitchen in front of the hearth for an hour the last two days, but that had only made her more anxious to be up and about. Her coughing had subsided. It was not altogether gone, but her chest was no longer tight. She slid from under the covers that had been so welcome a short time ago and searched the room for her tunic and trews. She could not find them, anywhere. She stood in one of Torn’s threadbare, but clean, nightshirts non-plussed and beginning to fume.

“Torn! Torn!”

She heard the thump of his boots in the kitchen after a few minutes. The door opened. He stood there with his shopkeeper’s apron tied around his waist and two boxes under one arm. “What? What is it? Are you all right? I was busy with a customer.” His broad brow crunched into an annoyed frown. A honey-brown curl of hair drooped on his forehead.

“What have you done with my clothes?” Her arms crossed her chest and a bare foot tapped the floor impatiently.

“Your clothes?” By the Mother….I thought you’d fallen or fainted or…. Lir. I’m busy with a customer. I’ll bring your clothes when I’m done with him.” He slammed the door behind him as he left.

“You’ll bring them now!” she called through the door. “Or I’m coming out as I am! See what your customer thinks of that!” She opened the door and stomped through the kitchen to the doorway of the shop.

When she saw who was the customer, she quickly darted back into the kitchen. “Damn.” She whispered. It was Zumcar’s twitchy orderly. She closed her eyes and sent a quick prayer to the Mother that he hadn’t seen her. 

He didn’t see you.
She opened her eyes to see Simon sitting on the back rung of one of the kitchen chairs. He was tottering a bit as the bird was a bit more weight than the chair could balance, so he hopped onto the table.

You won’t tell Caddy I stood on the table, will you? She does like to harp at me for that. Seems I bring disease and destruction and she doesn’t want me poisoning your food. Huh! 

Lir could swear the Rakthat actually rolled his eyes. She grinned. “Sounds like Caddy.”

So, why are you being so hard on Torn? He does have a business to run. And why are you afraid of that simpering fool of a customer?

Lir pulled out a chair and sat. She put her head in her hands. “I don’t know. I’m just fed up with being sick, I suppose. I know he has a business to run.” She looked up at the bird. He toddled over to her, bent his sleek head and began grooming her blonde curls with his dangerously fierce beak. “But he took my clothes!!” she groaned.

He did. He took them and threw them into the fire.

“He what?” Lir stood so quickly that her chair fell backwards. “Ouch!” She looked down at Simon on the table. He held a generous strand of white-blonde curly hair in his beak. She rubbed at the sore spot on her head.

He dropped the strand and eyed her with a sharp, beady one-eyed glare. Well! That’s your own fault you know.

She righted the chair and sat back down. “Yes. But what am I supposed to wear now? I can’t be a Runner in this.” She pinched the front of the nightshirt and drew it from her even thinner body.

Caddy actually told Torn to burn the clothing. Then she sent him out to purchase new things for you.

“Oh, frag. I do hope he hasn’t brought back a dress. He’s always going on about how he’d like to see me in a dress. He didn’t get a dress, did he?

No, he didn’t. He and Caddy already had that argument and she won the day when she managed to convince him you couldn’t be a Runner in a dress.

She grinned. “I wish I had heard that argument.”

Oh, it was a grand one! Simon bobbed his head several times and did a little dance on the table. Now, about that customer….

“That customer was Zumcar’s orderly. I met him when I went to the Castle for Zumcar’s message. Weasely kind of fellow. He made me quite uneasy. If he had seen me in this nightshirt here I can’t imagine what stories he would have taken back with him. And he might have guessed that I was not what I pretended to be. I can’t afford that.”

No. No you can’t.

So, Lir and the story are moving on, albeit a lot more slowly than I'd like. Thanksgiving is next week and I've a house to clean. But I will keep on....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day Nine of NaNo

So, yesterday and today I got some writing done. Not a humongous amount, but I'm pleased with it. Tonight, before I sleep, I will ask Lir to show me more. That's what I do. Then the next day I have things lined up. It works for me.
 Of course, I know generally where all this is going, but it is totally amazing to me that I am continually surprised with the details, pertinent sidetracks and new characters that pop up. It makes me feel like I am both writing and reading. My characters lead the way. I think this is what makes writing so exciting for me
 Here's an excerpt from today's writing:
by B. Navta
Copyright 2011

  Lir awoke several times, although she was unsure whether she was awake or still sleeping. She’d been dreaming fever dreams of a man with a huge bird head who spoke softly in her ear and a Guard who continually beat her with a club that turned into a bucket of water that nearly drowned her with its impact. She coughed and spluttered trying to get her breath in the deluge. When she’d awake she was definitely struggling to catch her breath and coughing painfully. Then she’d drift off back into her disturbing dreams. 

 She finally awoke and became somewhat cognizant of her surroundings. She was covered in sweat and shivering uncontrollably. She turned her head which pounded fiercely with her movement to see that a fire in the hearth had died to a few coals. How long had she been sleeping? And for that matter, where was she? She tried to shake her head to clear it, but moaned at the racking pain that movement sent through her whole body. She settled back and tried to think. She didn’t close her eyes as she knew she’d be back dreaming bird heads and buckets quickly.

 She lay still, only moving her eyes over what she could see and that in itself was painful. A house, obviously. A ruin of a house. That meant she wasn’t back in the Caves. A house. How’d she get here? She listened to hear if there was anyone else in the room. All she heard was rain pouring down on the roof and dripping somewhere. She heard no other movement, no tell-tale breathing. Alone, then. But she somehow knew she hadn’t been alone. 

 Let’s see. She tried recalling her movements. I had a message. A message for….ah! The gem mines. The gem mines….I ran to the gem mines. I got to the gate and….and I wasn’t alone, was I? I looked up to the top of the palisade and…. 

 “Simon!” She bolted upright. “Ohhhhhh.” She began coughing and coughing. Her head spun and she was nauseous. She leaned to the side of the bench she was on and retched. When that was done, she limply slid herself cautiously back down to lay on the bench. 

 “Simon,” she whispered. This time she closed her eyes, but a myriad of images flooded her. Simon at the gate of the castle. Simon flying with her as she ran to the mines. Simon swooping down from the porch of the Commander’s quarters. Simon hovering over her in the rain and leading her to this house. 

 Where was Simon? 

 And then another thought struck her. She had seemed to take Simon’s presence and his talking - well, thinking? - to her in stride. That was so unlike her. She was a questioner and suspicious. Life in the valley had taught her that was the only way to survive. Why had she just accepted that a bird could converse with her? Perhaps Simon was the dream? There was no bird here. But then how did she get here? 

 “I’ve gone mad. That’s the answer,” she whispered to herself. “Completely and totally mad.”

She felt she had an answer, maybe it wasn’t exactly the answer, but right now it sufficed and she let herself slip into a blessed oblivion. She felt as if a gentle and warm black blanket surrounded her within loving arms. She smiled. “Mother.” And then she knew no more.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fish and Visitors....

Well, two days have gone by with nary a word written by yours truly. I have been totally absorbed and distracted by "The Saga of Gunther: The amazing story of a starving Houdini dog." I won't detail it here as I've posted the daily accounts on Facebook. I'll only say here that we were visited (relentlessly) by a neglected and starving Black Labrador Retriever named Gunther who was frightened of humans (snarled as you approached him and/or fled by climbing fences) and barked smack under my bedroom window for most of the night. After four visits from Animal Control, the placement of a humane trap that Gunther was too smart to get caught in, bowls of food and water and a cushion and blanket for the cold nights, Gunther happily toddled off into the Animal Control van with nary a look back at us. We are all happy that Gunther will be taken care of properly (a vetting at the vet, neutering and finding a happy forever home through the auspices of the good and patient folks at Animal Control and the Wonder Lake Veterinary Clinic) and that we can get back to our normal routine - and an entire night's sleep! Dusty, Brandy and Archie are very happy to get their yard back. I think dogs rely on routine even more than we humans do. They were all out of sorts by the third day of the Gunther saga. Brandy didn't even want to go out into the yard for a pee. We had to coax her and then she rushed back to the door. What's the saying? Fish and visitors smell after three days? Yup. That was definitely the attitude of our Pack.
BlackhawkBlackhawk by Joanna Bourne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jo's books just get better and better! I am continually amazed at how she manages to create a French inflection into her characters' dialogue. It is sentence structure I am sure, but I'm never really aware of it. It is also her ability to know her characters so well, that every movement and thought completes the picture of who they are.

To date, Justine's and Adrian's relationship is the most believable within the Spymaster series. And that couldn't be easy with such complex characters. Even their most intimate scenes seem complete and totally within character.

I am in awe.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day One of NaNoWriMo

*Big sigh of relief* I managed to create 1864 words of my new project, "Bloodstone." Haven't decided yet whether it is a novel or novella. We'll wait and see.

It is always interesting to find out new things about your MC (main character) and to meet new characters that you'd never met before. Two particularly popped up in today's writing. Diana Gabaldon terms these sorts as "mushrooms." They pop up and create themselves into an integral part of the story. They may or may not appear again. One of mine I am sure will return, the other.... well, we'll see.

This is part of what keeps a writer writing, I think. The unexpectedness of your own creations grabs you and keeps you going to find out where they will take you.

I look forward to tomorrow!