Write Hacks 7

by Brenda W. Clough

croppedQuillIdeally, every character has a voice — they sound like themselves. More importantly, they sound like creatures of their space and time and class and era. Lydia Bennett is not going to sound like Podkayne of Mars. If you write it right, the reader will not need a tag, the addition of a crutch like, “..said Miss Bennett, flirtatiously.” The voice, the words she speaks and the way she says it, will tell the reader everything she needs to know. And voice changes faster than you know. Only our modern recording technology allows us to display the evolution easily; move back far enough and it’s all speculation.

So: where to go and mine voice of the right period, in quantity? Ah, the wonders of our modern age. There are projects solely devoted to recording oral reminiscence. If you listen to public radio, you know about StoryCorps. Go to their archive and fall in: not only the history the speaker is telling you, but how he says it, the words and the cadence and the voice. You are not writing about Americans, you say? Here is the UK equivalent, run by BBC Radio 4. Pick your recordings with care, and soak yourself in it. Your characters can sound like they were born in Cheshire, or Leeds, or Norfolk, and you never need leave Minneapolis.

The eHow Like a God, by Brenda W. Cloughbook version of my novel How Like a God is now available from Book View Cafe. And it is available now in an audio book edition which is read by Bronson Pinchot!

My newest novel Speak to Our Desires is out from Book View Café.

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In the Pacific Northwest? Come Hear BVC Members Shannon Page & Mark Ferrari Read!

Book View Cafe members Shannon Page and Mark J. Ferrari, along with Annie Bellet, will be reading this week and next for the SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading Series.

Thursday, September 3, come see them in Portland, Oregon, at Mississippi Pizza, 3552 N. Mississippi Ave. That’s tonight!

Tuesday, September 8, they will be in Kirkland, Washington, at the Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant, 111 Central Way.

Readings are at 7:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!

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Reading My Brilliant Friend

My Brilliant FriendThe cover of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend shows a bride in an elegant white gown standing a little behind a man in a dark suit – evidently her groom – and trailed by three young girls in matching fancy dresses. The bride and groom stare out at the sea.

From the cover, you might guess that this is a romantic tale, but despite the fact that this book ends with a wedding, nothing could be farther from the truth. This, the first of Ferrante’s four-part Neapolitan novel series, is a gritty story of two women, lifelong friends, that begins with their girlhood in the Naples of the 1950s.

Though there is story enough to hook any reader – and I was hooked from the first page – there is very little in the way of a plot. While the book begins with the disappearance of Lila at sixty-six, that event is not tied up by the end. In fact, the ending – which features both the wedding and at least two betrayals – leaves the reader hanging, or rushing out to find the second book, for the story is far from over. (I’ve put the second book on hold at the library, though I may break down and buy a copy before it comes in.) Continue reading

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Between the Lines: When research tries to eat you

I should really do some more research on this.

I should really do some more research on this.

Any author will tell you that writing a novel involves research. In fact if you aren’t quick on your feet, they’re liable to corner you and tell you all the marvelous things they learned that were peripheral to their novel and so never got into the book.

This has always been a problem for me when I write stories about people who aren’t like me, set in places far away or in the past, yadda oy. I do an immense amount of research; some would call it over-researching. Sometimes I think I’m just being insecure. Or maybe I’m being respectful and thorough.Yeah, that’s a good excuse. Continue reading

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Posted in Editing, fantasy, History, paranormal romance, Research, Worldbuilding, Writers on Writing, Writing life, Writing Nowadays | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Cataract Journey 2: Choices

With my diagnosis of cataracts (in both eyes), I began to consider my alternatives. The simplest, which is to do nothing and rely on eyeglasses for increasingly inadequate visual correction, was not very appealing, especially since lens replacement surgery was now “medically necessary.” Medicare, like most insurance plans, covers only the bare minimum: a single focus (“monofocal”) artificial replacement lens, usually for distance, with the natural lens being removed and the new one inserted by scalpel. Monofocal lenses give most people excellent distance vision, although they do not correct for astigmatism, and usually require the use of glasses for reading and intermediate distance work.

These are not the only lenses available. Lenses can be toric (astigmatism correcting), or can correct for more than one distance. Multifocal lenses can provide a full range of vision (or so the literature says), including presbyopia, the difficulty in reading that comes with age, but they can also result in halos around street lights and other visual difficulties at night. They also don’t come in all powers of correction. Accommodative lenses can correct for distance and intermediate vision, which means that glasses may be needed for reading; they flex like a normal, healthy lens.

Then there are choices as to how the surgery is done, the traditional scalpel, or femtosecond lasers. The benefits of the laser are that it is more precise and it can correct mild astigmatism at the same time. (Astigmatism arises when the cornea is shaped like a football instead of a soccer ball, resulting in multiple focal points; in pain speech, everything, near or far, is blurry.) Continue reading

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BVC Welcomes Cynthia Felice

Cynthia FelicePlease join BVC in welcoming our newest co-op member.

Cynthia Felice writes science fiction novels, and occasionally writes short stories and articles. She was a John W. Campbell Award nominee for her novel, Godsfire. Felice is a workshop enthusiast, including being an early Clarion “grad” and a frequent Milford attendee. Her experience includes managing technical editors, writers, and designing configuration control software, as well as writing and editing technical articles, essays, and documents, one of which received the Award for Outstanding Paper from the Society for Technical Communication. Cynthia Felice grew up in Chicago, and now lives with her husband on a ridge east of Colorado Springs overlooking the Front Range.

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BVC Announces Downtime by Cynthia Felice

Downtime by Cynthia FeliceDowntime
by Cynthia Felice

It’s easy to say what you’ll live for. The hard question is–what will you die for?

Ten years ago Calla had been the center of Jason’s life. Then Jason followed his career downtime, leaving Calla to the elite Praetorian Guard and separating them–but not forever. When they meet again, she’s thirty years older and outranks him. The time-crossed pair are forced to work together on Mutare, an outback mudball suddenly in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

Jason is determined to protect the indigenous Danae, a fiercely hunted species he believes is sentient. Calla’s contingent brings more hunters and she’s hiding something–something that could endanger everything on the planet.

Calla must find the man who would destroy the universe to rule it, but nothing is quite what it seems. She doesn’t have time to worry about Jason or the Danae, and yet both make her heart ache. With nobody left to trust but each other, they’ll have to risk everything they hold dear.

They are outmanned, outgunned, and out of time!

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Summer’s End

2015-08-22 rainbow_200Life with horses forces even the most sedentary or distracted human out of the house and into the barn, and hence, into nature–the great outdoors, with weather and climate and times of day and changes of season.

This spring and summer, which has been all construction hell all the time, I’ve had next to no energy for the animals. Fall out of bed, feed and medicate as indicated, clean stalls, check water, stagger into construction zone that passes for house, stagger back out at more or less consistent times to do more feeding and cleaning, fall into bed (not even my own–I camped in a guest room for months) at late hour, rinse, repeat. Continue reading

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Schrödinger’s Sasquan—Part 3

It takes a good sense of humor to attend a worldcon. Last year, at Loncon, we procrastinated too long in getting a place to stay, and we wound up camping on a sailboat moored somewhere off the Thames. This year, we put in for a room early, and requested a room on a quiet floor of the main con hotel. (No more schlepping an hour each way to get to the con for us!) What did we get? A room two doors down from the con hospitality suite, open 24 hours a day!

To our surprise, it worked out okay. The soundproofing was good, and we were rarely bothered by the noise. And when we got the munchies around midnight, we just had to throw on some pants and shoes and go down the hall.

If there’s one thing (most) science fiction fans have in abundance, it’s a sense of humor. When I saw this T-shirt at Sasquan (just weeks after my attendance at the Schrödinger Sessions for SF writers), I knew I had to have it.

Wanted: Dead and Alive

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Parenting in an Evolutionary World

(Picture from here.)

Tomorrow we take our son to college.

Yes, it’s an emotional. We’re taking someone we’ve known for 18+ years, who has essentially been the center of our lives for all that time and putting them in an environment where we no longer have control. He has to sink or swim on his own. High school is more forgiving than college and college is more forgiving than the outside world. So this is a step that still is somewhat protected. That said, it’s still a step and a big one for him.

So, as I tend to do, I want to examine this in a larger context. Continue reading

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