Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scene 8: 2-for-1

Two weeks ago I finally got my hands on Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson.  Last week, I got Blackmoore.  I adore these books.  Julianne Donaldson is an Austen-esk genius.  Seriously.

I loved the fell of both books.  It was like reading a new Austen or Bronte novel.  The language.  The landscape.  The love.  It all makes me very homesick for England.  Donaldson balances the right amount of detail to action, giving the reader just enough to be feel at home in the world she has created, never giving a feeling of over-saturation or wordiness.  This I love.

First up, Edenbrooke.  From the author's websiteMarianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

I love that Marianne is ready to run away from Bath.  Most novels that include Bath are about people running away to Bath.  On a side note, I've been to Bath and, personally, I can't imagine running from it.  Bath is amazing.  Sadly, while I was there my camera died and these are the only two pictures I got:

Roman Baths in well, Bath :)
Beautiful architecture that is Bath... seriously, it's like driving into Rome.
Anyway, back to Edenbrooke.  Even though I could guess the ending from the beginning, I adored every step of the journey.  Philip is sigh-worthy.  Marianne is clueless, akin to Austen's Emma, but without the matching-making tendencies.  Their relationship is fun and funny and real.  All in all, it's just a feel good read.

Now, number two, Blackmoore.  From the author's website:  Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance of a young woman struggling to learn to follow her heart with a delicious must-read twist.

Here's the thing.  I LOVE Kate!  She might be one of my favorite heroines.  Second on my list to Jane Eyre.  Like Jane Eyre, Kate has a great sense of right and wrong.  But also, like Jane, she is young and immature and can be a bit rash.  However, she does have a great sense of sensibility about her, like unto Elizabeth Bennett.  To add to the mix, she has no idea of her own power and strength.  I love being able to discover those things with the character as they set about their journey.  

I think what I love most about Kate though is how relatable she is.  It was almost a little too close for comfort for me in some scenes, especially those involving her family.  The longing to leave her past behind and forge her new road, the need to be in control of her own destiny regardless of her upbringing; those things pierced my soul.  Oh, how Kate's longings to be free and to follow the desires of her heart sang in my bones.  I loved Kate's connection to birds, both the free and the caged.  It was poetic.

I think that's ultimately what I loved about both books: these strong, intelligent (though not all-knowing or superbly mature), funny, and powerful women and the daring journeys they embark on, intent on acting for themselves and not merely being acted upon.  Isn't that what we all want.  For me that's what true feminism is, the opportunity to simply, bravely choose for oneself the life one would live.  To have the liberty and freedom to make one's own way in the world.  

Donaldson has taken something very timely and valid and woven it into both of her books.  Both great reads for any female over the age of thirteen.  And she gets extra kudos for writing engaging, emotion-filled love stories that are clean and pure, no smut involved.  Take that, 50 Shades. 

Plus, who doesn't love a man in trousers and a cravat?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Scene 7: Poetry in Progress

It has been raining in Northeast Texas for nearly 18 hours straight and I love it.  I love listening to the pound and splatter of rain drops, the whistle of the wind, the rustling of leaves, the occasional thunder.  It is by far the best ambience for writing... though not so much for gaining the needed motivation to clean :)

So the bulk of my day has been spent writing.  Mostly on my WIP, my first finished novel that I am trying to get cleaned up and ready to send out for submissions come the end of October.  But I have been writing some poetry too, gloomy days are particularly ideal for poetry.  As a side note: beautiful spring days and white-out winter days are also great for poetry.  Sadly, those days when it's too hot to breath, let alone move, are not ideal for writing poetry... or doing much of anything else in my opinion.

I thought I'd share a poem I started today.  A poem in progress.  Then I thought, in a week or so I can share the progression of the piece.  Fun, right?
Seriously, I do.  In fact, I was able to share some of my published poetry with my daughter's second grade class last week.  It was awesome.  It was my first ever writer gig.  I shared some about my journey of writing poetry and what it means to me.  

The first poem I remember writing (and documenting) strictly for personal reasons was when I was eleven.  

I've swept, I've cleaned
I've done everything
Except make my mother happy.

It's rather sad and depressing, isn't it?  Thus is the life of an eleven-year-old, pubescent girl.  Hormones.  But I remember that at that moment when I wrote that poem, I instantly felt better, lighter somehow.  There was a release involved.  It was a miraculous find, this new ability to express myself and unload some of my overwhelming emotions.

That's what poetry was for me, for many,  many years.  A release.  And as such, a lot of my early poems are dark and depressing.  Nevertheless, I had my first (dark, depressing) poems published when I was in high school which was unexpected and exciting.  But the most important thing poetry, and writing in general, has done for me is it helped me find my voice.

It was something I lost in early married life with new expectations placed upon me and children to care for.  I didn't write hardly anything for several years.  And I suffered.  I didn't have my release anymore. And to be quite honest, I falsely felt that if I needed a release I wasn't a very good wife or mother.  I was supposed to be blissfully happy, right?  The truth is, I was scared to let my emotions out.

I'm happy to say I've been back to writing poetry for several years now and I LOVE it!

So, without further ado, The Poem in Progress:

Like a caged lion, I long to run with abandon,
To hunt for a meal of my own choosing,
To, at night, lay down my weary frame wherever I desire.

Like an entrapped wolf, I crave to chase the moon
to wear out my long legs, long before I cry out to it, 
To journey with a pack of my choice,
To be free to discover my own den.

I am like that lonely lovebird,
My heart aches for the company of my own kind.
I can never, will never be truly content in that place
Where I do not belong.

Run lioness.  Lovebird, fly like the wind.
Chase after the world to the rainbow's end.
Let the wolf call out as you race towards your moon.
Find the courage to be your own truest friend.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Scene 6: In Which I am Scared of Clowns, but I LOVE the Circus

The Night Circus that is... by Erin Morgenstern.

This book was fantastical.  The plot was so well-woven it was poetic. The characters were alive in me as I was in them.  The circus was magical and mysterious, a character in its own right.  And as I traveled through the circus, I learned more about myself; examining and discovering each new attraction, each one speaking to a different part of me--wonder, playfulness, fear, yearnings--allowed me pinpoint my place in the world.

I can't quite place my finger on what exactly it is that I loved so dearly about this book... and that is, I think, the reason I adore it.  It left me both longing and satisfied.  The ending was so poignant, so eerily quiet it was majestic.

In my opinion, this is real literature.

Which, most likely, explains the polar effect it has on readers, the one loving it, the other hating it.  I dare you to have lukewarm feelings about this book.