Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I spent six days wandering the city as well as taking advantage of the amazing and quick commuter rail to head out to Concord to visit Orchard House (Louisa May Alcott's often homebase and the inspiration for Little Women) and to visit Walden Pond, Thoreau's homestead and Ralph Waldo Emerson's house.
I love Boston.
Some of the reasons I love it:
Boston proper is a relatively small city (especially compared to Toronto) so it is so easy to walk around in.
The Common: Reading in the Common with an iced coffee while watching those Swan boats? Love
The cobblestoned Freedom Trail.
Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall
The accents! To Canadian Rachel, most Americans have accents: but the Boston dialect is so distinctive and regionally specific----
THE NORTH END! Oh my goodness, I love the North End: site of Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church but also Boston's Little Italy---home to amazon cannoli and all manner of delicious Italian food at restaurants people line up for hours to get in.
Back Bay and Beacon Hill: the rows of red-bricked ornate architecture, the public alleys and Boulevards
THE PEOPLE: the people in Boston are so friendly. When I was there last autumn, stepping out of the airport, a woman used her Charlie Card to get me on the subway and rode past her stop to make sure I found the Back Bay station
The Green Dragon Tavern: I love the ambience and the ghosts of the rebel Sons of Liberty plotting their revolution
The Harbour: gorgeous! I mean, one moment you are remembering a ton of darjeeling was tipped over the side, the next you are gazing over at New England lighthouses
The people ( I think I mentioned this )
The Old State House and the Old South Meeting House: just walking Boston gives you a sense that you have peeled back a few hundred years
And SO MANY MORE THINGS
pictures! ( ever so craftily stolen from instagram)
I read great books in Boston
Finally finished Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the 'It' Girl and the Crime of the Century by Paula Uruburu ( note: this non-fiction is UNPUTFRIGGINDOWNABLE )
Popular by Maya van Wagenen
The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress which was adorable and snarky
I was at opening night of Newsies on its Boston tour stop and it was my first time seeing the highly anticipated Broadway show ( I have been stoked about it ). Ironically, I am seeing it opening night here in Toronto. Lots of Newsies for me!
Friday, June 19, 2015
|You two shouldn't be together. The cat deserves more happiness|
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
"She did want that, there was no denying it. For years, all she'd ever dreamed of was growing up and becoming a wife and mother, but that was before women had any choices. Now they were earning degrees. They were asking for the vote. They were even securing jobs in professions never before accessible to them."
"Managing comes naturally to a woman. She has been managing homes since the beginning of time. But the quality we, of the stronger sex, assume she lacks is business ability. Yet this writer had an opportunity to sit with the head of the only shop of woman glasscutters in the world. She and the dozen young women who work under her direction made--without any assistance from men---the award-winning windows of the Tiffany's chapel.
"Their eggs are all in one basket, and when you've only one basket, it stands to reason that it had better be a good one."
Monday, June 15, 2015
Monday, June 08, 2015
When you want to believe that the world is a lovely place full of lovely people with lots of integrity who wear their hearts on their sleeves---- then that is also what SSD is for.
It is full of the most delightful quirky characters: all relics of a time past who are trying to fit into a changing world. They are endearing and loveable for their obvious eccentricities.
The POstables have returned. Shane and Oliver ( he is, as you know, my ideal man ) and Rita and Norman.
This time their dead letter office mystery involves divorce papers that never arrived for a marriage on the brink of a terrible mistake. As is the usual, the dead letter mystery parallels a major life event for one of the POstables: this time Oliver and is horribly annoying wife Holly who left him at the Post Museum ( how could she. I will never forgive her. You suck, Holly. DID YOU SEE WHAT AN AMAZING GUY YOU HAD!!! stupid Holly).
Anyways, Holly is back and Shane is pining. Rita is swept away as Miss Special Delivery and Norman thinks he has competition to his owl-loving gal.
It's all so sweet I wanna wrap it up and put a bow on it.
SSD believes in love. And in marriage. And in tradition.
|c/o Hallmark Movies and Mysteries|
It is just delectable. A delectable ode to the written word. Here, we have a new motif constructed in Holly's new penchant for poetry. Her poems and Oliver's reaction to them are one of the highlights of a well-crafted hour and a half.
Previously, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was a series with hour-long episodes featuring a small post office mystery. Hallmark, since, has opted to explore a different format with several little self-contained films a year.
This works for me. Anything works for me! ....As long as I get to hang out with my lovely POstables.
|Marry me, Oliver. Marry me now!|
For those of you who enjoy Shane and Oliver, you will get some darling moments. For those of you who also enjoy Rita and Norman, your heart will end up in your throat. OH MY GOODNESS!
With thanks to our friends at Grace Hill Media for allowing this Canadian to watch a media screener of the new film.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
|It's going to hades, Mr. Andrews, but you get a darned good song outta it|
Also, everyone, the first 16 minutes of the show is brilliant storytelling. THIS is how you introduce character, theme and circumstance. It is how you establish action. Luckily, for musical theatre lovers, it is done in a brilliant and scrumptious way.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
note: this book be le steamy. if that is not your type of romance, then you have been duly warned
Snortle! What a whizbang of a fun read. Taut with excellent prose and a flourish of humour, Dearest Rogue features one of the most beguiling heroines I have encountered in an age.
Lady Phoebe is blind but her lack of sight doesn't diminish from her whip-smart manner or banter with her body guard, the tortured James Trevillion. With her in his charge, James is able to look beyond a past that has forced him moody and imagine a fresh bright future with a woman who is more than his match.
Quick witted, funny and oh-so-romantic, Hoyt has established a compelling literary world that takes us from London to Cornwall with two fragile,vulnerable and complicated people. While Trevillion still bears the scars and limps of a tragedy years earlier, Phoebe has just adjusted to the last shade of light having left her waning sight. Together, they become each other's safest companion, most doting sparring partner and, well, something else, too ( I tell you, there is more than snark in this novel and a careful, prudish reader might want to tread with care).
This was my first Hoyt novel, provided by Netgalley, and I gobbled it up in pretty much one sitting. I felt that it presented us with a fabulous look at the regency world through the outlook of two unique characters.
Phoebe's blindness is not a limitation rather a catalyst for her working senses and a lesser pen may not have allowed us to "see" through Phoebe's world in such a deft and expert way. Hoyt, however, is indubitably a master and I cannot wait to check out her backlist.
A few fun quotes:
"Blindness had neutered her in the eyes of the world."
"Being kidnapped, after the first few minutes of absolute terror, was really rather boring."
"Really, sometimes it would be much easier if one were allowed to simply hit gentlemen over the head."
Trevillion: "He smiles every time he sees you, "he murmured quietly. Was he jealous?
Phoebe: "I smile every time I smell cherry pie."
Oh and then there is Phoebe deciding on the regency equivalent of a last minute road trip that she wants to try ALL THE BEER:
"If, after several tastings, I find I cannot stomach the beer, then I shall give it up. Often something tasted for the first time seems foreign to us--strange and off-putting. It's only after repeated tries that one realizes that this new thing, this once-strange thing, is quite familiar now. Familiar and beloved."
"His heart had performed a coup d'etat over his mind and there was nothing more to be done about it"
La! the best! Go forth and read!
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
|photo: L Polonenko|
Monday, May 11, 2015
The Reading Life with Rachel at Edgy Inspirational Romance
Another Rachel's Raves at Novel Crossing
Interview with Stephanie Landsem at Novel Crossing
Writing Personality at The Writer's Alley
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
- - Character dynamics
- - Toronto’s social and cultural world
- - The tone of the books
- - Its personality
- I had an immediate affinity with the hero (he's the sweetest thing since Merlin)
- With minimal dialogue I was able to establish what the character dynamic was, who had rapport and who didn’t
- I was given a 360 degree view of the world of the fictional Central City it was set in
- I was given an immediate introduction to the tone of the show and its fun, zanily manic atmosphere
Friday, May 01, 2015
IT is FLASH'S BIG DAY
About the Book
Flash is the story of a family (mine!) who desperately needed a sign that God still cared about us amidst our challenging circumstances. But the last thing we expected was for God to use a wounded, abandoned donkey to teach us lessons about faith, love and second chances.
This is a special story.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Extremely busy of late what with two looming deadlines on my own books .
|LET US READ!|
However, I have done some reading!
Short and Sweet:
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
This is a charming and warm and generous book by an actor who really cherishes his time on the set of one of the most quoted movies ever. He remembers his experience as a young actor offered the chance to star in the adaptation of a book he loved with such reverence and its spirit is infectious.
Did you know Mandy Patinkin bruised a rib from laughing too hard while filming the Miracle Max scene? Classic stuff in here with quotes and reminiscences from all involved. "You've got to be careful with William Goldman scripts. He tricks you with good writing." --- and he does. Goldman, the novelist of the Princess Bride and the masterpen behind such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid makes it look easy. What's more, he loves his vocation and particularly this book. Thus, he felt he was walking on broken shells when they took it to the screen. I don't blame him. "I think the film has endured because it was made with a lot of heart. And for that we really have to look at the creative and tender hearts of Goldman and Reiner. Both men are very different people who came from very different backgrounds, but they share one thing in common---they never lost touch in their hearts for storytelling.And in this film they were able to explore that love of storytelling a way they perhaps will never be able to again: the telling of the most extraordinary fairy tale/adventure story about storytelling that can now be counted as classic."
I think writers will find it interesting to learn how difficult the film was to market and its initial release was not met with the enthusiasm it now enjoys as a cult classic. For anyone who has ever had to write a book proposal for an not-easily-categorized novel, you will enjoy hearing how this multi-genre story was hard to pinpoint.
Purchased on Kindle
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason: IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES STARRING SHERLOCK HOLMES' NIECE, MINA! and BRAM STOKER'S SISTER EVALINE
And somehow I JUST LEARNED ABOUT THIS? what the.... people need to tell me these things.
This is frakkin' adorable. A perfect marriage of steampunk and mystery and even time travel. The writing is snarky and light and bright with recognition of its famous inspiration in a cunning and compelling way. It takes broad liberties: Mina is MYCROFT'S DAUGHTER while Evaline is Bram's sister who is ALSO A VAMPIRE HUNTER and HOW CUTE IS IT THAT HER NEW HOLMESIAN PARTNER IS MINA JUST LIKE IN DRACULA? OMG!
and they are commissioned for secret assignments by IRENE FRIGGIN ADLER and it just a revisionist London of my dreams. Very charming and very witty and very, very funny:
"Her eyes were dark and her face was pretty in an arresting way." Mina notes of Miss Stoker on first meeting, "The sort of girl young men would find attractive. The sort of girl who danced at parties and shopped and laughed with her friends and who knew just what to say when she met an interesting young man. The sort of girl who had friends."
I love the smart vulnerability of the book. And I LOVE Mina! She is all Holmes. Charming! Delightful! Her scenes with a particularly dashing Scotland Yarder are only rivalled by her new partner's scenes with a delicious young Cockney-accented street-smart kid named Pix.
I just cannot wait to read the next.
Purchased on Kindle
I wasn't a fan of the first installment in Shelly Shephard Gray's Chicago World's Fair mystery series. But the second offering peaked my interest due to a review I read.
Deception at Sable Hill is a lighter mystery with undercurrents of a much darker subject. While the "Slasher" of Chicago, during the time around the World's Fair, preys on society ladies, so recently abused heiress Eloisa fights with a life meted out for her--- of lavish parties and eligible gentlemen--even as she believes that she has been soiled for it by the sinister deed of Douglass Sloane. Her interactions with Sean Ryan of the police department and his investigations into the identity of the Slasher introduce her to a world heretofore barred from her. Their developing relationship--including Eloisa's visits to his sister's work for women fallen on hard times--- is the heart and soul of the story.
This is a mystery, yes, but a light one. Instead it is a carefully wrought music on class construction and the layers of society. We have all read enough cross-the-tracks love stories to keep us going for years; but this one particularly stood out because its development is so intricately woven and so beautifully realized.
Friday, April 10, 2015
|throwback to working on substantive edits last year about a month before the book went on submission|
I never intentionally set out to accomplish this, it just happened. Especially the more Ray DeLuca fought the girls for space on the page ( #characterproblems) . I love my first person, I do. But I also found I could widen the scope of the book with third person. Editor asked me to choose either first or third for the whole novel. As this wasn't one of the hills I was going to die on, I agreed. Also, I compromised and negotiated so that the three novellas accompanying my books will be told in Jem's sprightly first person narrative. I love her voice, I love crawling into her mind. I love the way she sees the world.
The others---- omniscient third.
Well. This means an entire rewrite of the entire novel, obviously, with a completely different slanted POV. I could have easily said "Sure! let's do them all in first person ....!" but I had already started writing snippets of the subsequential books and had cast my net wide. I knew I needed more than Jem quoting other people for pages as Watson does in the Holmes' canon. Face it: it gets super tedious and I would much rather see the action through Holmes and Watson's eyes and not, I dunno, Grimsby friggin' Roylott or that Mormon in Study in Scarlet.
So, I sat and thought .........
|oh Thom Crom, I feel your pain!!! #unamused|
It is a gargantuan task. But it is a voice that feels natural to me as a writer especially as I am at the point where I know the characters, their mechanizations, their motivations and their ultimate ends so well.
I decided --- bereft of my lovely Jem's first person in Bachelor Girl's Guide ----to pretend that I was still hearing her. That she was the one who was recording. That the action was very much a result of her inference, influence and seen through her perspective. She is, for those of you familiar with Scandal in Bohemia--- my Boswell. And I am lost without her. You may not see that on page, but this trilogy favours Jem. It is still Jem's world and Jem's view of her friends and Jem's blend of idealism, romanticism and adventure that peppers the page.
I *Wolf Hall-ed it
I decided to go through and immediately cut out any unnecessary scenes. What would be the use of working them into a different voice and perspective if they were probably going to end up on the cutting room floor? snip snip.
Then, I made a list of my favourite scenes. The scenes that I wanted in the novel and counted them: how many switched from first to third mid sequence? How many fell naturally into Jem's over-arching narrative or action? I kept those.
Ephemera: My book is very much a cornucopia of snippets --- newspaper headlines and quotes from two fictional authorities--- MC Wheaton to represent Merinda and her talent for deduction, Dorothea Fairfax, to weigh in on how Jem is clashing with the ideal model of an Edwardian bachelor girl.
How could I use these to cut and paste action, condense and realign?
Then, I let myself play. I picked a few scenes and just played. I played with voice and tone. I played with dialogue. I played with dialogue tags and how often I interfered with the flow of my characters' babbling. I played with inference. I played as if I was a master marionette puppeteer and I was wiggling the strings on my happy little people.
And then I drank a lot of wine. And I am drinking wine and revising to this day.
*Wolf Hall: novels by Hilary Mantel in which Thomas Cromwell is everything and everything is Thomas Cromwell and seen through Cromwell's intense gaze .
Rachel note: I read this book in a Netgalley review copy and really loved it. It was sprightly and spirited and had all of the humour and passion I expect when I read romances of the time period--- Loved the unique competitive streak and the way Orr immediately plunges you into the action of the novel..... Enjoy the sneak peek.....