Monday, July 07, 2008

Sunshiny Days


Summer at the Country House,
Elizabeth Chettle,
watercolor on paper, 19th c.


1. Pico de Arte Award:

Billie of Chapter and Verse -- dear deluded man that he is -- has awarded me an elegant Pico de Arte.

To inspire others with their creative energy and talents. This can be through writing, artwork, design, interesting material or contribution to the bigger community. It is a special honour to receive it.

Indeed it is an honour.

Since I am barely post-Luddite in regards to the addition of pleasing side-bar trinkets, please visit his blog to see this charming sigil and read his excellent poetry.
Edit to Add: It seems that sweet -- and equally deluded -- Vesper has also honoured me with this award. You should read her recent Gothic tale.

2. Delicious lines encountered (I really should keep a list):

Dear Author provides an entertaining and encouraging feature about "first sale" stories. Historical romance author Joanna Bourne recounts the following:

I pounded it out on a selectric typewriter. There was something called carbon paper. No, I won't go there. Suffice it to say this was a long time ago and the woods were full of the cries of mating pterodactyls.

3. How to make male readers cross their legs:

After finishing A Malignity of Ghosts (more or less) I have suffered from the usual writer's insecurities -- that stage when one tries to view the MS with an outsider's eyes -- when one can see only possible deficiencies and few strengths.

Among other things, I have been worried that I pulled my punches, diluted impact, avoided the viseral. Wondering if I have been too elliptical, too prissy in my prose. If allude, imply and suggest are sufficient for the dark things in a character's psyche and experience, if I have trusted the reader too far.

In short, if I've been a chickenshit.

Possibly as a result of this morose examination, the opening lines of the next St. Claire chronicle are tentatively thus:

He'd been castrated.
While he was alive.


52 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...

"He'd been castrated. Before he died."

Isn't that a time-honored tradition, though? Castrati and eunichs?

If this is a crime scene, though--gruesome.

Bernita said...

A crime scene, Written!

BernardL said...

That is a great Joanna Bourne line. I remember the first short story I ever typed up was in 1974 on a Royal electric. You alluded to your character’s unfortunate physical alteration quite plainly. :)

Ric said...

Just the thought causes certain muscles to contract.

Sam said...

The cries of mating pterodactyls - LOL!
Yes, I remember the days of typwriters, electric and otherwise - the ribbon, the paper, the white-out for mistakes.
And congrats for the award!!!

writtenwyrdd said...

Ah, yes, the days of Selectrics and carbon paper. Am I really that old? Did I really use one of the first word processors that was larger than my office desk and used a daisy wheel typewriter for a printer? And that was 1984?

Did I really used to operate a PC with a single 5" floppy drive, and I had to insert another disk just to use bold or italic print?

I can recall spending $200 for an I think 100 MEGAbyte hard drive!

And yes, that line about mating pterodactyls cracked me up, too.

Jaye Wells said...

Congrats on the much-deserved honor.

That's a pip of a first line, lady.m

Bernita said...

Those truly were the Dark Ages of Inconvenience compared to now, Bernard.

Since I'd had the bad guy slice up Lillie, Ric, I guess my mind followed the theme.

Thank you, Sam.
Wasn't there a machine that had correcto-tape as an added feature - about the time the Commodore 64 arrived on the scene?

Really cracked me up too, Written! Still chortling over it.

StarvingWriteNow said...

I want that country house--complete with a bevy of servants to clean/cook/garden for me while I laze my days away sipping lemonade in a hammock under an oak tree...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jaye.
Not one I can pass on, except to each and everyone of you.

Bernita said...

Beth, my first thought was "Oh, bugger, think of the staff needed for that pile."

laughingwolf said...

grats bernita, now the REAL writing begins ;)

um... ouch?

castrati and eunuchs, indeed... the unkindest cut, at least for some males of the species homo sapiens...

someone wrote at one time: push the envelope in writing, cutting [more of that? :O] is a lot easier than having to add

spyscribbler said...

Love that beginning! And the award is well-deserved. I was just thinking when I first clicked over, that I just love the pictures you post every day.

It's strange what some readers don't get, even though you look and you've stated it plainly. I'm really not sure there's anything to do about that. We've become a distracted society, I guess.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Laughingwolf.
Think that's true, cause I write so lean, pruning as I go along, that I'm afraid to cut.

Natasha, thank you.
I always hope they will trigger an idea.
"It's strange what some readers don't get,"
Yup, and we're supposed to show and not "tell."

Robyn said...

Ah, yes, I remember those mating cries quite well. I was so excited when different font type wheels came out!

Charles Gramlich said...

*crosses his legs*

Actually, I think that's a powerful opening. I don't think everything has to be "in your face." It's probably a good thing that you have a variety of material, some graphic, some less so. I tend to like the visceral, but I also can enjoy a good dark "expectation"

Vesper said...

What an opening, Bernita! By all means, go for it if the scene is required. :-)

A fully deserved award... :-)

December/Stacia said...

I worry about that, too. And I love those opening lines!

Bernita said...

And the machines were huge, awkward and weighed, Robyn - nearly as much as a half-grown stegosaurus.

Thank you, Charles. I suppose part of the expectation is "who's next?"

Gabriele C. said...

Oh yes, the days of typewriters and pterodactyls. Any the joy when I got an Atari which made things so much easier. I had a computer before they got common in the bureau of the secretary, the library and the home of the professor.

Congrats on the award.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Vesper. I didn't see yours until I had done my post this morning.

Plays the very devil with one's confidence, December.
Of course, I immediately worry if they are too much of the calculated shock variety.

Bernita said...

Gabriele, thank you. So many fiddly things the computer does for one now - as long as one learns how to format.

jenniferw said...

If you were looking for visceral, I think you found it.

cindy said...

b, how well i know those anxieties now that i wait for my first revision letter. i, however, felt i wasn't subtle enough. there's something to be said about the art of implying--that has even more impact than putting it all out there. i bet your finished ms is fine as is.

so excited you are starting novel 2 already, too! sounds like it's going to have a great opening scene!

Dave F. said...

I like those lines. They leave as much unsaid as they say. And that is good for the reader.

Bernita said...

It is that, Jennifer.

And I bet your touch in those areas is just fine, Cindy.
Not sure whether it's going to be the opening of Treachery of Stones or an other short story, but I have this neat ghost...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Dave.
It's a fine line.

M.E Ellis said...

He'd been castrated.
While he was alive.


Now that's my kind of opening. I'd continue reading without fail.

:o)

Bernita said...

"Now that's my kind of opening. I'd continue reading without fail."

Aw, Emmy...

Sarah Hina said...

The men cross their legs, while the women (even while loving their men) can't help but smile a little. Love this opening, Bernita.

And congratulations on the award! Vesper and Billy know what they're doing.

Jeff said...

"He'd been castrated. While he was alive."
YIKES! Attention getting, that's for sure!
Congratulations on your award, Bernita!

Steve Malley said...

Aw man, I was going to give you a Pico too. Get what I deserve for procrastinating, I guess...

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sarah.
A bit brutal, I'm afraid.

Thank you, Jeff. It's about the nastiest thing I can imagine - but really, it's based on a "true" ghost story.

Nice of you to think of me, Steve. Thank you.

Dave F. said...

There's so much to fall back on with that opening.

Was this man tortured to death? Did he rape a woman and this is payback?
Was this like a racial hanging of a black man that happened so many years ago in the South and his ghost is returned to haunt the living? That's baggage.
Was this man ritualistically murdered with castration being essential to fly to the saucermen who'll save the true believers?
And to be grotesque about it, where are the man's private parts? Missing? In a jar nearby? Shoved down his throat? Magically still living in a glass display case? The gruesome evidence of serial murders presented in the courtroom before the jury (and a juror recognizes one of the remains! ! and !)

Will we find out? Or will the reason be part of the "final revelation." (Don't tell me now, let me wonder).

Go and have fun with this... Like I said. I like those two sentences.

Bernita said...

Dave!
Have been wondering just where to put the manly bits. (Did consider stuffing them in his mouth but I think not.) Perhaps they'll be "missing."
Have been contemplating your earlier comment:"They leave as much unsaid as they say." - and wondering about a 50-50 formula one might implement.

Scott from Oregon said...

He'd been castrated.
While he was alive.

Too much drama!

Why is there always so much drama in the world?

The separation of the two sentences deliberately suggests your narrator gets some glee in telling you this fact.

I hope this guy deserved what he got.

raine said...

He'd been castrated.While he was alive.

Works for me!

Bernita said...

Not "glee," Scott. Try "shock." I think sheer horror is the normal reaction - an indignity/violation worse than mere murder.
The "drama" may be mitigated by further description.
Can't say yet whether this victim "deserves" it or not.

Good. It's a tricky one, Raine.

SzélsőFa said...

Have my sinceres congratulations for the award, Bernita - you do deserve it.
Every time I learn something, even if from you, or from the comments.

Re: those opening lines: yikes. separation does work as a commenter suggested. I may want to read further on, with eyes half-closed..:)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Szelsofa. I too find that comments are often more instructive than the post.

writtenwyrdd said...

Perhaps they'll be "missing."


Well, just a thought, but if there was that particular bit eaten, or at least the suspicion or a joke about that possibility...

Bernita said...

Written, that's gross!

Carla said...

Those opening lines ought to make any reader wince - and turn the page.

Congratulations on the award!

Bernita said...

Carla, thank you!

You know, thinking about it re: Written's suggestion. A joke is just what someone on scene might attempt.

laughingwolf said...

little fat to trim if you keep it lean, as you say, bernita

laughingwolf said...

'weirdly' eta: 18 - 23 july

Bernita said...

Probably could use some fat, Lw.
That is so nice! I hope you will enjoy it.

Lana Gramlich said...

Castrated while alive has me a bit confuzzled. Don't most castrations occur when the person is alive? Did you actually mean awake? THAT would make me cross my legs (& I'm a woman!)

Bernita said...

Lana,some murder victim's bodies are mutilated after death.

laughingwolf said...

thx bernita, i'm sure i will... i prefer lean prose :O lol

Mary Witzl said...

That description has ME crossing my legs, and I'm not even male. And now I'm worried that I too have been pulling my punches...

How refreshing and reassuring to meet another post-Luddite! I'm familiar with Selectrics and carbon papers and far worse -- like untangling typewriter keys. I tapped out many term papers on a manual typewriter and smile when my teenagers tell me they are too tired to type stuff out. Wimps.

Bernita said...

Nice to see you, Mary!
You have a fascinating blog.
I even learned how to ...gasp...change a ribbon, she said triumphantly.