Period Drama 2014 (II)

THE GREAT FIRE (TV series 2014)

The drama unfolds over four consecutive days as the fire indiscriminately takes hold of the city and the people desperately attempt to overcome the flames, as no matter what your path in life or status all human life is vulnerable. The fire consumes homes and lives as loyalties and friendships are tested and passions come to the fore.  As the greatest city of the 17th century is destroyed, the fire is a catalyst to acts of forbidden love, deceit and despair (synopsis).

 

THE KNICK (TV series 2014)

….Also called the “gilded age gore.”
I’m currently watching this show. So far so good!

Medical drama set in the 1900s charts the exploits of the staff and patients at a New York hospital, where they try to maintain their reputation for quality care while struggling to keep the doors open (Rottentomatoes).

 

P.S. I finished watching AMC’s TURN a few days ago. The series was preeetttyyyy darn good, though a little slow at first. I might write a quick review for it. And it’s been renewed for a second season, so hurrah!

 

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Other Period Dramas

 

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One Lovely Blog Award: 7 Curious Facts About Me

one-lovely-blog-awardFellow writer and critique partner Christa Wojo has tagged me for the One Lovely Blog Award (to participate in a blog tour where we share 7 curious facts about our life). Be sure to check out her lovely answers!

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Here are the rules.

Rules:

  1. Share 7 Lovely Facts about myself
  2. Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that I enjoy reading….I just shared the 10 blogs I often visit or wish would be updated more often! haha.
  3. Nominate the authors of those 15 blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the original Lovely blog. (That would be this page)

Without further ado, here are some interesting facts about me!

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1. I thought my dad was the prime minister.

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My dad is a theology prof, but before he pursued his PhD, he was a pastor. Once, in kindergarten, I was conversing with my friend’s mom, and somehow we talked about jobs, then this happened:

Her: So what does your father do, sweetie?
Me: He’s the prime minister.
Her: You mean minister?
Me: Nope. The prime minister.

For many years, I continued to believe I was right, and that she was a silly woman.

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2. I enjoy watching Korean Dramas.

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A few years ago, I watched Boys Before Flowers (25 episodes, each episode being one hour long) in two days. I slept no more than two to three hours each day so that I could wake-up and immediately watch some more. Towards the 20th episode, I was so dazed with exhaustion I had no idea what I was watching, but I kept watching anyway. Talk about addicting!

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3. I LOVE watching action shows.

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After watching an episode of 24, I once stared at my apartment door, then solemnly asked my sister, “Do you think our door can be shot down?” She looked genuinely troubled by my question.

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4. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Peter Pan so, so badly.

I was, of course, old enough to know that flying was impossible and that Neverland didn’t exist.

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But still, I longed to be Peter Pan with such intensity. During family strolls through the forest, I’d find myself a stick (my sword) and jump off tree stumps and rocks (in my mind, I was flying and fighting off pirates). My mom swears that she once found me sobbing uncontrollably at home, and when she’d asked why I was crying, I had supposedly answered, “Because I’ll never be Peter Pan!!!!!!”

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5. The first time I learned how to swim (the doggy paddle) was when I nearly drowned.

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We were at a water park and I somehow wandered away from my parents to try out a waterslide. The slide plunged me into the deep end and I remember being in a state of panic – because I was a little kid who had never been taught to swim before. I started flapping my arms and legs, and managed to reach the surface. Fortunately a life-guard was nearby and immediately hauled me out.

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6. The books I reach out for most often these days are are non-fiction.

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After graduating university, I’ve come to enjoy reading non-fiction more than fiction. Yet I love writing fiction more than ever.

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7. One film changed my life.

I was the kid in school who hated English and thought chapter-books a great bore. Becoming an author was the last thing on my mind. Then I watched this film – and my life was changed forever (though now this film cracks me up!).

After watching Pride and Prejudice (1940), I hunted down the 1995 adaptation. This version left me SOOOOO obsessed with P&P. I read the book, then wanted to read more, so I tracked down every sequel I could find. When I ran out of sequels to read, I wrote my own continuation (where Darcy & Elizabeth were spies for Napoleon….yah, I know. I was 13). And that’s how I began pursuing writing at the age of 13.

 

I tried to share some non-writing facts about me – but I couldn’t help add a few in! Now I will pass the award to the awesome writers and friends of blogs that I follow ( If I’ve missed any blogs, please let me know! And if you’ve already done this blog hop or don’t have the time, please feel free to decline.)

 

Congratulations to:

Rowenna

I write young adult fiction and am represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. When not typing or attacking pages with a purple pen, I enjoy sewing, baking pies, and trespassing.

Julie Dao

MG/YA writer, runner, dessert enthusiast, and hairy-footed hobbit at heart.

Jude Knight

I am a writer of historical romance novels, the first few of which are set in late Georgian England.

Rika Ashton

Book reviewer & blogger. Aspiring author of Fantasy fiction. An English Lit. & Education graduate via UBC. Addicted to coffee & words!

Ms. Reiter

I am a thirty-something, mother-of-two aspiring author. My current work in progress, The Long Shadow, is a historical novel dealing with the troubled relationship between British prime minister William Pitt the Younger and his elder brother John, 2nd Earl of Chatham. This blog mixes historical musings, novel brainstorming and thoughts on the difficulties of writing a novel with small children tugging at one’s trouser-legs. It is also turning into a one-woman attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of the man known as the “Late” Lord Chatham. He doesn’t always help out.

Sybil Lam

I recently left my day job (August 2014) to pursue fiction writing and other projects. My current project is ASHA, a fantasy story that explores the topic of skin, including eczema and psoriasis. It combines the adventure of L. Frank Baum’s WIZARD OF OZ with the imagery of Guillermo Del Toro’s film PAN’S LABYRINTH. I hope to query Book 1 (of 2) early 2015.

Tom

Tom used to write books for business, covering everything from the gambling industry to new developments in printing technology. Now he writes about love and adventure in the 19th century, which is not nearly as well paid, but much more fun. It also allows him to pretend that travelling in the Far East and South America is research. Tom lives in London. His main interest is avoiding doing any honest work and this leaves him with time to ski, skate and dance tango, all of which he does quite well.

Philippa Jane Keyworth

Author of Regency Romances. I love writing, reading, horses, dogs and movies! My debut novel, The Widow’s Redeemer, is out now!

Linotte Melodieuse

Writer, nail polish addict, tea-a-holic, rabid history lover, voracious reader. Don’t worry, I won’t quit my day job.

Judith Arnopp

I am a novelist. My books concentrate on history from a female perspective. what was it like to be constrained within a corset, refused a proper education, passed from the jurisdiction of father to that of husband, denied legal and moral rights that we now take for granted?

 

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Fear of Writing the Second Novel

screenshot-from-2014-03-17-014321The thought of writing a new book terrifies me.

I’ve spent 6 years working on NIGHT FLOWER (formerly titled TRC). I wrote another story in between (Be Still My Heart), but I don’t plan on publishing it. So six years – one story – one million revisions and a rewrite-from-scratch later… I’m getting ready to move on to my next writing project…

How does this feel like?

I feel like I’m breaking up with a boyfriend of 6 years. And now I’m searching for a new relationship & wondering: What if my new relationship is a mere perpetuation of my former relationship? As in, what if I try to relive the past through this new guy?

I tried to think up a new project to work on, and this is what happened:

I thought of writing about…

(1) a woman of Chinese descent living in 19th century England – but this reminded me of Amanda (the heroine from my first book), who is an outsider.

(2) a heroine who dresses up as a boy and goes off to sea  (based on my research on female cross-dressers) – but the cross-dressing heroine in a ship full of men also reminded me of Amanda, the outsider.

(3) a heroine who goes out on a quest to avenge her father’s death in 18th century England, only to get entangled in politics – but the angry heroine reminded me too much of the angry and gritty Amanda.

Yes, I’m crushing hard on Amanda, but I want to move on now – I want to try a fresh, new story. But all three possible projects filled me with this iffy feeling that I was recycling my first book. I don’t know, can’t explain it – but each story seemed so ATTACHED to NF.

6a00d8341c464853ef01a3fccbd259970bThen I began reading two non-fiction books,  WOMEN OF THE RAJ by Margaret Macmillan (about British women in 19th century colonial India) and SISTERS IN THE WILDERNESS by Charlotte Gray (about two sisters facing a pioneering existence in Canada) — I was so darn inspired!!!

And the characters and scenes that came to mind while reading these two books reminded me NOTHING of Amanda and Lucas. A very good sign.

And I found myself standing before a buffet table of fresh new scenes, characters and possible plot-lines. Another very good sign.

So, right now, I’m torn.

Do I focus on India, the story revolving around the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (also called the Great Rebellion)? Or do I write about 18th century Canada where pine-trees spire high into the sky?

I know more Canadian history. I’ve studied Canadian history as much as English history during my undergraduate years. I’ve read diaries and letters by Canadian pioneers, I’ve studied Frances Booke’s THE HISTORY OF EMILY MONTAGUE (think of Jane Austen, but in the backwoods of Canada).  And I LIVE in Canada. So this might be an easier story to attempt…And one of my favorite books ever as a kid is set in Canada: Eric Walters’ THE BULLY BOYS (about the War of 1812). So the thought of exploring 18th (or maybe 19th) century Canada through fiction is exhilarating. bright hub education

But then…British colonialism in India is so darn fascinating!

Ugh, I don’t know! What do I do? Like I said, this is my second ‘real’ novel, so I don’t know how to go about deciding WHICH idea to commit to.

Thinking back, I dabbled in at least three dead-end stories before finding ‘the one’ (NF). So that’s what I’m going to tell myself when I figure out which country to set my story in – I’m just dabbling. I’m just testing the waters. Don’t expect the most awesome story ever. Just explore. Enjoy.

Who knows – things might not work out and I might end up migrating my imagination back to England. And that’s OK too.

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What was your ‘second book’ experience like?

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My Query-Letter-Drafting Music

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NEW Period Film: Effie Gray (2014)

Hmmm…the storyline seems rather old-fashioned. I’m not intrigued, but it’s a period drama, so I intend to give it a try.


Summary: This is the scandalous true story of the troubled relationship between Victorian art critic John Ruskin and Effie, his teenage bride. After marrying at the tender age of 19, Effie quickly realises her marriage is a lie when Ruskin refuses to consummate it. Yearning for affection, she soon falls for the charms of the artist John Everett Millais. Desperate to be freed from John, Effie embarks on a life-changing journey to become one of the first women in history to seek a divorce from her husband, making her an everlasting figure in feminist history (Rotten Tomatoes).

[ O t h e r s ] Continue reading

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Wrestling with Opening Paragraphs

제목 없음I’ve often found myself sitting at my desk, kneading my forehead – trying to write the PERFECT opening paragraphs (“the hook”).

While I’m happy with the overall manuscript, it’s a different story entirely when it comes to the opening. I’ve rewritten the first few paragraphs at least a dozen times. And I’m STILL not satisfied.

The pressure is real, my fellow writers and readers.

I’ve tossed aside many books (numbering in the 100s) because the opening paragraphs didn’t grab me.

I think the ghost of these books have come to bite me hard in revenge.

Anyway, after endlessly rewriting the opening, I came to a point where I was like – WHATEVER! And I just sent the manuscript out to the beta readers. I received critiques from several amazing people and tried to incorporate ALL their amazing responses – resulting in a cumbersome opening.

Today, one reviewer pointed out to me:

  • I remember reading a previous version of this chapter…and to be honest, I felt it was more effective than this one. The old version was easier to follow and had more tension, somehow. Perhaps you might consider taking another look at it – sometimes, too much revision runs the risk of stripping out an early draft’s energy and freshness.

This reviewer made a very important point. Sometimes we become so focused on addressing all the critiques that we lose sight of the story itself (I find it’s much easier to incorporate critiques once the story gets rolling though).

So, as I was saying, I wasn’t happy with my ‘hook’. And I’m glad I grit my teeth and had the opening paragraphs TORN apart. It stung a little. But now that it’s been torn open, I think I’ve found the story’s pulse again. I think.

I’ll share the comments sent to me by reviewers (who are not my beta readers or editors, but writers from an amaaazing writing community), and hopefully my mistakes* will give an idea of what ‘issues’ writers might encounter when writing an opening.

* The term ‘mistake’ is very subjective, though.

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Opening Paragraphs

Stepping out of the brothel, I breathed in deep drafts of air, freshly soaked with the scent of wet stone. I felt like I was breathing for the first time.

  • Critique # 1: Drafts of air, scent of wet stone? Hook the reader, not with weather or smells.
  • Critique # 2: There’s something really powerful about this sentence and the image of leaving a brothel for the first time. The one issue I have is it seems disjointed with the few paragraphs. Maybe to help you could try writing a few different types of continuation paragraphs. For instance you could start with how she stepped out of the brothel. Not why. And then talk about how doing something like that was so remarkable.
  • Critique # 3: Past participle construction is overused by writers. Avoid it.

Madame Lemiercier rarely let us out of the ray-less house, filled with smoke from fireplaces and candlesticks, laced with the pungently sweet odor of cigars and sweat. Only once or twice a season were we allowed to stand beneath the open sky.

  • Critique #4: This is way too belabored. You could make the exact same point in one punchy sentence. I feel we’re meandering around with too much adjective-laden description for this point in the story.
  • Critique #5: “Ray-less house.” What does that mean? It’s not a word, and you’ve given no context to figure it out. “Brothel” and “stone” are the only context to that point, and they give no clue.

While taking in another deep breath, I looked around. Nothing could be seen through the fog but the shadows of carriages, hooped skirts, and top hats. Everything could be heard, though. The streets clamored of clattering hooves and rumbling wheels. Laborers were shouting and pigs were squealing. All the noises were disembodied by the fog, like noises from a spirit world.

  • Critique # 6: You also start your third paragraph with another past participle! And then two sentences in the passive voice. When you are trying to establish a POV, passive will kill it.

I ventured down the street, the fog making for a damnable journey, but I was grateful for it. The fog took my mind off troubling thoughts. Troubling thoughts that usually stalked me everywhere, like the child presently clinging to my skirt. The child had a name, but I called her Madame’s Eyes. Should I try to run away, she would race back to Madame, and soon scoundrels would chase me down. I had no thought of running away, of course. I didn’t much care for having lips and eyes crusted with blood for days, like last time.

  • Critique # 7: I get that there is a child who accompanies her, but calling her ‘Madame’s Eyes’ sounds unwieldy and it takes me a few thoughts to figure out how she means this.

After reading through these critiques, I tried letting go of all the questions I felt my opening scene needed to address (1. How does the town look like? 2. How does the town sound like? 3. Why does the heroine feel like she’d breathing for the first time? 4. What is it like inside the brothel?). I tried to avoid info-dumping.

And so I did a little exercise today and whipped out a new-ish opening. I’m still not sure if I’ll use THIS one, but it’s a start….

Stepping out of the brothel, I breathed in deep drafts of air, freshly soaked with the scent of wet stone. It was like breathing for the first time.

And like a babe just born, I could see little, just the shadows of carriages, hooped skirts and top hats through the fog.  The last time I’d stepped outside, winter had bit my cheeks and snow had drifted into my palm. It was cool and damp now. Autumn, perhaps. Where had spring and summer gone? I couldn’t say. I had no sense of time. Inside the curtained brothel every day was the same endless night. It seemed the seasons had rolled by without my knowing. This troubled me.

To escape the thought, I walked quickly down the street. A child followed after me, clinging to my skirt with her boney finger. She was Madame Lemiercier’s little helper that kept me in tow.

The child followed me all the way to the ale-house, and only released my skirt when we arrived at our destination. She perched herself on the threshold bench, smoothing out her satin dress; the hemline rising an inch or two above her bare ankles.

 

Did you struggle with your opening paragraphs? And what do you consider a good opening anyway?

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My Writing Music

Rowenna was right (Critique Partner, and Writer Extraordinaire, represented by Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency). The Battlestar Galactica soundtrack is amaaaazing! And the show is so addicting too!

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