Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oh to be in England!

Have I ever mentioned that England is one of my favorite places?

Well it is. I'm a confirmed Anglophile, that's for sure. I adore hot tea (I have it every morning but with cream and not milk) and am obsessed with scones. It all started as a child. Lucky me, I had an aunt who married British and promptly moved to London. So that's where I spent a lot of my summer vacations. While other kids were pining for Disney Land, I spent my time touring the Tower of London, Portobello Road (which I sadly found was not like it was in "Bed Knobs and Broomsticks), Leeds Castle, the Cliffs of Dover, and finally Edinburgh, in all of its medieval glory. Yep, I was the only kid on the block who spent their summer abroad. Actually, I will venture to say I was the only kid in town. But it was a small one, I will admit.

My obsession with European royalty started during my first trip across the "pond", as they call it. I was ten and following a viewing of "Anne of a Thousand Days" and a trip to Hampton Court Palace, I was totally in love Anne Boleyn and the whole Tudor era drama. Not so much anymore as it's SO overdone, but still, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

The summer I was twelve, I was over there again, this time exploring all of the art galleries and museums. The V & A remains, to this day, my favorite. Probably because of the costume collection which is AWESOME. But by this time I was also way into the Pre-Raphaelites so a trip to the Tate Gallery was a major highlight. Nothing can compare to seeing Millais' "Ophelia" in that setting (it's a huge painting, by the way).

When I was sixteen, Jane Austen mania hit! My dear, ever so patient aunt took me on a road trip of sites relating to Jane Austen. There was the pilgrimidge to Chawton Cottage and to Winchester Cathedral to see Jane's grave. We even drove to Portsmouth where Jane resided briefly (and where I insisted we track down the house she lived in). Oh, and we saw where that dude, Charles Dickens, grew up.
And finally, there was Bath. Yes, it ALWAYS rains in Bath. I went to the Pump Room and visualized Anne Eliot walking about. I must pause here and discuss how blessed I feel when I reflect on this. I've recently been way into 18th century fashion and while browsing blogs and related sites, I clicked over to a link for the Museum of Fashion. As I cycled through some of the past exhibitions, it hit me--I've been here! Wow. Now I'm humbled. As I took a virtual tour of the Assembly Rooms in Bath, remembering the time that I spent there, I realized how many neat things I have been able to do as a result of my interest in history (and my connections as well.) I've walked the streets where Jane Austen walked. I've heard a live string quartet play classical music on the grounds of a castle. I can get around London like a pro; it's like a second home after all.
Sadly, my last trip to England was in 2003. However, I am scheduled to go back to Jolly Ol' England next summer! My aunt is making a second trip down the aisle and the wedding is being held at Stanton Manor, which was once owned by Elizabeth I's chamberlain, Lord Burghley. How cool is that? And I actually get to sleep there! Of course, I've already got my itinerary planned out because there are some places I haven't been yet. I'm looking forward to showing my little brother around as he will be making his first trip over. He'll be a few months shy of ten by then, so history does repeat itself!

So now that I have bored you all with details of my fabulous travels, I get to ask: what has been your favorite trip and/or what unique thing have you experienced as a result of your interests?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Do you ever just sit back and wonder if you're barking up the wrong tree in regards to this whole writing thing?

I've been wondering that a lot lately. Well actually I'm feeling trapped. I have so many good stories and characters in my head, but I worry if I have the skill to convey them in a marketable way...or even a readable way for that matter.

I've been thinking a lot about my ability to craft plots. I want to write historical fiction first and foremost, but I also adore a good impassioned love story. It's an essential element to all of my novels, but I fear now that I'm wandering into the no man's land of genre. I mused on this subject before and was feeling like I may have come up with a plan for tackling my genre bending ways. I was stamping Rebel Heart as a historical fiction with strong romantic elements. It's a genre according to the Romance Writers of America folks. Well I should say that it is a category in their annual unpublished writers contest (acutally it's fiction with strong romantic elements). But it can be recognized all day long but if an agent doesn't think they can market it, you can kiss your chances good bye. I'm starting to see the allure of e-publishing! Although how hypocritical would it be for me to pursue e-publishing when I've never read a self-published book? And how do you differentiate yourself from the hacks? I don't want people to think I have no talent. I'd rather remain unpublished if that's the case.

This of course begs the question: what if I don't have talent? I'm such a sparse writer. I feel sometimes like I lack the ability to draw readers in. My prose isn't elegant (for the most part) nor is it overly descriptive. There are places where I force myself to elaborate on scenery and in the process come aross as very stilted. Not cool.

Oh to be a kittay!
And then there are my POV issues. I love first person. It really allows me to connect with my main character. But I hate filtering everything through their eyes. That's where I took a right turn and wrote Rebel Heart in first for Julienne and third for Alex and one other main male character. I had several comments on this, some negative and some positive. I work best in this method and there are novelists out there who do this (Laurie R. King comes to mind). But I'm struggling even as I write this. I started rewriting my Revolutionary War novel this week. I adore the characters and I think I may have sorted out the plot issues. Now POV is rearing its ugly head. I first started rewriting in July with the plan of doing what I did in Rebel Heart: first for my main female character and third for the two main male characters. When I picked it up this week, I became determined to write wholly in third person. I edited out the first person references in the thirty odd pages I had already written. And boy does it look and read weird (at least to me). I feel like I'm shifting POVs in the same scenes too. Which is a no-no, right? So what do I do? I feel like I'm losing some of the nuances of the main female character by going to third but what's the point if I write something that can't get an agent?

Oh these are the days when I wish I had never learned that I might have a chance at publication! It's a lot easier when you write for your own amusement.