Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's What in This Neck of the Woods

Mr. Thornton's Guide to Writing

The simple fact of the matter, dear lovely people, is that The Rochesters is still not done.  Blah blah blah, insert poorly written excuse here.  But hope still remains. My goal for November, as I think I may have mentioned before, is to add 50,000 words to the Jennifer story; however, this doesn't mean I can't work on anything else.  So my priority over the next week or so is to finish the doggone Rochesters and get them sent off to beta readers while still maintaining my Jennifer quota.  Since I've sworn off the Internet except for email during November, it shouldn't be quite a Herculean task.

And speaking of beta readers, that's where you folks come in.  If you have not already received an email from me requesting your help (and, of course, if you are interested) please leave a comment expressing your willingness to beta-read and providing me with your email address.  (You can put the email in a separate comment and request that I not publish it if you prefer, and I shall oblige you.)  I'm looking for four more beta readers and will accept the first four generous offers to help that come in-- and of course if four or fewer people comment, everyone will be happy.  :D

So goodbye for now, everyone! (Hound, say goodbye for now!)

“I’m not drawing a bunny,” said Timmy, with a goodly measure of disgust.  “Bunnies are for babies.  I’m drawing a rabbit.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Beautiful People: Mark Elijah Rochester

"The public? Ha.  The public.  You sound like a snooty princess or something.  Maybe we had better say Francie’s public, huh?  The unwashed masses, the madding crowd, the populace we scatter coins to..."
~Mark Rochester

Okay, so there's a bit of a story behind the picture of Mark up here at the top... for the longest time the ONLY image I had of Mark was this one, which I'd found on Pinterest, but there was no name with it and so I had no idea who the boy in the picture was and therefore couldn't go looking for any more images of him.  And I really did want some more pictures because a) the more, the better when you're character casting and b) Mark doesn't generally run around in a medieval tunic.  So the other day I was going by while my sister Molly was on the computer, and she was looking for character pictures for one of HER books, and long story short she demonstrated to me how you can search Google with an image by right-clicking on it.  MIND.  BLOWN.  I had no idea you could do that. Go ahead and laugh, but I've got my Mark pictures now and I know who Charlie Rowe is.  YESSSSSS. 

~What kind of music does he like?

Mark isn't especially musical, but he enjoys singing in the car with his family, generally very loudly and not exactly on-key.  Mindless repetition of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain," each verse varying slightly in Level of Ridiculousness, is a particular favorite.

~Does he like to go outside?

Absolutely.  Mark is definitely an outdoors person.  He's also an indoors person, too, and like all his siblings has an innate love of reading.

~Is he naturally curious?

Is Sir Percy the Scarlet Pimpernel?

~Right, or left handed?


~Favorite color?

Well, his favorite shirt (the one he wears four or five days out of the week in summer until it is forcibly removed by a sister and put in the washing machine) happens to be red (or at least it used to be red) so we'll go with red.

~Where is he from?

Born and bred in Cedar Lake, Michigan and has lived there all his life.

~Any enemies?

Mark doesn't really have enemies, per se, though there are a few people he really doesn't like.  Frank Whittaker currently tops the list.

“Who wants to make a good impression on a humanoid magazine cover like that,” Mark snorted, and Sylvia choked back a snort of her own.  “I bet he spends his whole day practicing how to ask girls out in front of his bathroom mirror.  When he’s not applying an entire bottle of hair oil, that is.  I bet he wears aftershave just so he’ll smell older.”

~What are his quirks?

He's argumentative but good-natured, enjoys doing things he's been expressly told not to do (sisters aren't parents, after all, and Celia isn't the boss of him) but is generally trustworthy, has never broken a bone in any of the times he's taken a plunge off his bike and has memorized all the kings of Judah both in chronological order and in a personal list ranking them from Most Wicked to Least Wicked.

~What kinds of things get on his nerves?

People nagging him or telling him what to do, wearing a tie, wearing a suit, wearing a carnation in his buttonhole and being a groomsman.

~Is he independent, or needs others to help out?

I'm gonna let you decide that one for yourself, based on the other answers. :D

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beautiful People: Frances Katharine Rochester

"The words ‘beard’ and ‘good-looking’ should never appear in the same sentence unless there is a ‘not’ between them."
~Francie Rochester

~What is her favorite type of shoes?

Oh, high heels, most indubitably.  Preferably sophisticated black ones.

~Does she journal?

She kept one when she was about eleven for about two days.

~What’s her favorite animal?

To eat or to pet?  For the former, fish-- the latter, dogs.

~What does her average day look like?

During the school year Francie's away at nursing school but this story takes place in the summer, so her day often includes... making oatmeal for eight people unless Alice does it first, working on dress orders from her various clients, going to people's houses for fittings (she's the only dressmaker around who still makes house calls, Celia often points out), doing up the lunch dishes, playing kickball in the backyard, folding laundry, going grocery shopping if it's her week (she and Alice take turns), playing Monopoly with her younger siblings and staying up too late reading Pride and Prejudice.

~Night owl or morning person? (Optional: What time does she usually wake up? Go to bed?)

Night owl for all intents and purposes-- she can be a morning person now and then, usually around the twenty-fifth of December or thereabouts.  What time she wakes up and goes to bed is not being disclosed to the general public.

~Does she have a sweet tooth?

Is the Popemobile Catholic?  Chocolate, please.

~What colors are in her bedroom?

Off-white on the walls and pink curtains at the windows (as opposed to Celia and Patsy's--and Sylvia's--room which is pink on three walls and white on one because they ran out of pink paint).

~Can she cook?

Heh.  Heh, heh, heh.  Um... yes.  Some things, she can cook very well.  Some things, she cannot.

Alice took a spatula and gave a dubious poke to a pan of yellow gook on the stove.  “Francie, if you don’t mind my asking, what is this supposed to be?”
“It’s not supposed to be any thing.  It is an omelet.”  Francie whisked the spatula out of Alice’s hand.  “You don’t have to eat it.”

~What is her favorite household chore?

Scrubbing the bathtub, believe it or not.  You get to run the water really loud and sing Que Sera, Sera at the top of your lungs and if other people yell at you to hush up you can blithely ignore them because of course you can't hear them over the sound of your industrious cleaning.

~Favorite kind of tea?

Earl Grey-- it's classy and kind of romantic and very English, which is just the kind of thing Francie likes.

{{I did Sylvia and Celia's Beautiful People tags quite some time ago, but neither has really changed since then so do go check them out when you get a chance.  :D Mark will be up next.}}

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beautiful People: Alice Cassandra Rochester

"Patsy, you know better than to scream in the kitchen.  If you want to scream, go down cellar where you won’t bother anyone."
~Alice Rochester

I've decided to make this week a Get to Know the Rochesters Better week, as I'm in the last throes of finishing the story (WE HOPE) and instead of apologizing and excuse-ing and going off on irrelevant tangerines that you're not interested in, I'm doing a series of Beautiful People, one each day.  We're starting with Alice and going down the line in age order.

~What is her biggest accomplishment?

Becoming a fourth-grade teacher, definitely.  And marrying her fiance would probably go on the list too, except that at the start of the story it hasn't happened yet.

~What is one of her strongest childhood memories?

Reading everything she could get her hands on and being read to by her father.  Her mother read to her, too, but she and her father had a special book routine every night before bed (a practice that's continued on with all the other kids in the family).

~What is her favorite food?

Uhhhhh... pumpkin pie.

~Does she believe in love at first sight?

Nope, she believes in being friends with someone through high school and liking them from the start and then falling in love with them a little bit more each day until one day you both realize that you were meant for each other and you get engaged and then you get married.  This is because she's had experience in that regard.

~What kind of home does she live in?

A loud, noisy, hilarious, exuberant, close-knit, old-fashioned one.

~What does she like to wear?

Alice isn't as clothes-conscious as, say, Francie is-- she likes to look nice but she's not too picky about what she has on.  A sweater (long or short-sleeved, depending on the weather) and a skirt in solid colors or maybe a flowered print is her go-to attire.

~What would she do if she discovered she was dying?

Tell her family she loved them and make out Patsy and Timmy's bath schedule for the next twenty years to avoid bickering when she's not around.

~What kind of holidays, or traditions do they celebrate?

Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, Father's Day, and The Day We Got Pumblechook (which is February 26th, 1950 in case anyone was wondering).

~What do your other characters have to say about them?

This is a great question. :D

“What kind of games do you play?” asked Sylvia, choosing to sedately attend to the cutlery drawer.  
“Oh, all kinds.  Sometimes board games, sometimes party games.  Mark almost always picks Monopoly and Francie picks charades. Nobody likes it when it’s Timmy’s turn because he always picks Uncle Wiggily, which gets old really fast, and Alice has a reputation for picking Find The Grammatical Error In This Sentence.”
Sylvia snorted.

“No, I’m not kidding.  We really did play that one time.  Mark and I did a pretty good job of faking snores by the fourth round.  I don’t think we fooled Daddy, but Alice gave up and chose What’s My Line instead.”

~If they could change one thing in their world, what would it be?

I'm not sure Alice would want to change anything in her world.  She likes it just the way it is.  I mean, I'm sure she'd love to see poverty and war and ungodliness eradicated from the planet, but as far as her own little domain in Cedar Lake... I think she'd tell you that it's got its own particular brand of perfection.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Let Me Explain About Jennifer

I'm an insufferable copy-cat, et cetera and so forth, so when my sister posted about her newest story The Husband Choosing using the Wolverine-and-Gladiator format (go read her post if that makes no sense to you), I thought it would be fun to give you all a little more about Jennifer in the same fashion.  Please note that I'm not currently working on Jennifer at the moment-- I'm still trying to finish up The Rochesters right now (yeah, yeah, I know-- and I really should get off Blogger and onto my document).  That said, I intend to take November as my month to really get a move on with Jennifer, and I'm hoping to kinda-sorta participate in NaNo by adding 50,000 words to Jennifer.  The Rochesters had better be done by then.  IT WILL BE.

Anyways.  On to Jennifer.  Here's the scoop (and if you didn't read my sister's post, go do so or this one won't make sense).  Oh, and please note that I haven't necessarily seen all the movies these characters come from, nor do I endorse them, blah blah blah, nor do the pictures necessarily match the characters I reference, et cetera. ("What is this et cetera?"  "It means 'and so forth and all the rest,' your Majesty.")

Katniss Everdeen's parents die in a car accident soon after her nineteenth birthday, and she is left to take care of her almost-three-year-old brother Oscar (that child genius who has an IQ of 160 or whatever it was and who isn't actually a fictional character).  

This idea is not met with favor from Katniss' grandmother Margaret Thatcher, who thinks that Katniss and Oscar should move down to Florida to be with their grandparents, that Katniss should get her degree and Oscar should go to day care.  

Katniss, of course, is not going to let this happen, and after some legal negotiation which I still have to research 'cause I'm hazy on the subject, she's allowed to be her brother's guardian (not without disapproval from the Iron Lady).

Determined to settle for nothing less get started on her own, therefore, Katniss gets herself an apartment from a less than desirable landlady and starts attending a new church with Oscar, where she meets Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley, who turn out to be the kindred spirits she needed.

Meanwhile, she's enjoying the rigors of raising a two-year-old on her own, attempting to find a job, and putting up with criticism from her grandmother.  Also trying to deal with the fact that Enjolras, the chap she had a bit of a fancy for in tenth grade, just happens to be attending this church as well, which means she sees him every Sunday, and oh look, the fancy (on her part) might just be back.

Um, I can't think why.

If that weren't enough, she gets rather pushily befriended by Rose Tyler, a well-meaning young mom from her church who is the ultimate Perfect Mother and makes all her pureed organic baby food from scratch while teaching her two-year-old classical Hebrew.

While trying to get involved more with church activities so the ladies of her church will look on her a little more favorably (Oscar is her BROTHER, people-- maybe she should wear a sign informing the world of this fact), Katniss decides to participate in an older-women-mentoring-younger-women program and begins regularly visiting Mrs. Forrester as an enthusiastic Ministry Project.

Because, you know, there's totally no such thing as getting burnt out.

Also there's a stray cat in the mix.  Who hasn't been cast yet.  

Casting Key
Katniss Everdeen - Jennifer Farnham
Oscar Wrigley - Ethan Farnham
Margaret Thatcher - Gloria Young (Nana)
Mary Crawley - Mallory Kent
Matthew Crawley - Noah Kent
Enjolras - Anthony [last name to be determined]
Rose Tyler - Grace Dockery
Mrs. Forrester - Edna Baker

Anthony regarded the cat and the cat regarded Anthony.  “I’m not too good with pets, to be honest.  I had a gerbil when I was little but it died alarmingly quickly.  My dad maintains that I killed it.”

Ethan beamed.  “Anfee kill gerbil,” he informed me.

“No, he did not,” I spluttered.  “I’m sorry, Anthony, he just gets these ideas into his--”

Ethan gazed adoringly at Anthony.  “Now you kill annovver gerbil.”

Anthony gazed back, not exactly adoringly.  “Um, no.”

“Anfee kill gerbil,” said Ethan decidedly.  “Want see Anfee kill gerbil.”

“Ethan!”  I scooped him up and held him on my hip.  “There’s not going to be any gerbil killing, okay?  Anthony, I’m sorry-- he’s not usually so bloodthirsty--”


A scarf-draped, middle-aged woman walking an expensive dog minced by on high heels (the stabby kind).  Hearing Ethan’s plea for the death of some helpless rodent, her freeze-dried face contorted into a mask of horror.  Shooting a look at me that would have done Cruella de Vil proud, she scooped up her yapping bundle of fur and scurried far, far away from the heartless young woman and her murderous child.

~the Jennifer story

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Staten Island is *in* New York!": The Status on The Rochesters

Uncle Arnold patted Alice on the back.  “Yes, yes, I’m well aware of the fact.  The bit about being splendid, I mean.  And I’ll put in a call to your suitor while you get our bags ready.  If you do it, we’ll be late for our train.  Sylvia, it is best for you to learn early in life that when the time comes for you to have a Young Man of your own, you may pose quite an inconvenience to your Nearest and Dearest by monopolizing the telephone line at all hours of the day or night.”
Sylvia giggled.  “I don’t really like talking on the telephone, Uncle Arnold.”
Uncle Arnold nodded solemnly, with only the tiniest hint of a twinkle.  “An aversion which time will cure all too soon.  Hang onto your innocence, Sylvia, and do not let my daughters lead you astray.” 
~chapter fifteen 

September is over, in case you hadn't noticed.

And the little word counter for The Rochesters on the right-hand sidebar of my blog isn't at 100%, in case you hadn't noticed that either.  

Yep, I didn't finish.  And I am okay with that. 

This post is sounding oddly reminiscent of this one from last November when I didn't quite finish Half NaNo.  I think it's just that I've gotten so used to not meeting deadlines that it hardly bothers me anymore.  This is not a good thing.  I must learn to weep and wail when I don't meet a deadline.  I should enlist Anne-girl to whap me over the head or something when I fall short... pain association and all that.  Or perhaps she could give me chocolate nuts when I DO meet my deadlines.  (That's the way they train animals.) This would be agreeable.  Take notes, Anne-girl.

At any rate, I've currently clocked in at 56,367 words, which is just a tiny bit over 80% of the goal.  I don't know if the manuscript actually WILL get to 70,000, of course.  I intend to write until the story is finished, whatever the final word count may be, and as yet I'm not there.  (Obviously.)  I have twenty-two chapters outlined but only seventeen chapters' worth of material written (not seventeen complete chapters, you understand) so it could quite possibly end up going over 70,000.

And as I said, the fact that I didn't finish in September doesn't bother me.  I'm deep enough in the story now that there's no danger of my setting it down and saying "I'll finish it later" and then never getting to it.  (Well... okay, there's a lot LESS danger.)  The Rochesters have taken me by the collar and pulled me into their world, and it's really kind of delightful to see the family that I dreamed up one summer day living and breathing and chattering and having splash fights in my mind.  

Celia and Francie have really endeared themselves to me over this last week-and-a-half of crazy writing-- they were more or less my two favorite characters to begin with, but now they're definitely my favorites.  Well, but Mark is too.  And Alice.  And Sylvia.  And Uncle Arnold.  And Patsy and Timmy and George and even Pumblechook (though in real life I tend to be repulsed by big slobbery dogs).   Cheesy though it may sound, this crazy family has been writing me in the process of my writing them, and I'm eternally grateful to them.  They've taught me not to shy away from being embarrassed by little things, to embrace spontaneous silliness (um... only to a certain extent... as my siblings will, I am sure, concur), to laugh at those I love and at myself, that you can be furious with someone and still like them tremendously deep down underneath, to stop and smell the burning toast along with the roses (because face it, some days have more burnt toast than roses to offer), that anything hilarious your siblings might say is fair game for novel material if your sister doesn't grab it first, and that any family that agrees perfectly on how song lyrics go is not the kind of family that sings together frequently.  

 Sylvia, sandwiched between Francie and George in the front seat, bravely struck up a tune of her own.  “This land is your land, this land is my land...”
Celia and Alice joined in.  “From California to Staten Island...”
“It’s the New York Island, not Staten Island,” sang Mark. 
Celia rolled her eyes.  “Staten Island is in New York.”  
It really was the New York Island, but Sylvia was willing to let it slide.  “Come on, don’t mess up the meter.  From the redwood forest, to the something wa-aters...”

Timmy chimed in with Sylvia, but Patsy was squirming in her seat.  “I have to go the bathroom,” she announced, cutting the warblers short.  
~chapter nineteen

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've poured a lot of myself into this novel, and when it's done I think I'm going to be pretty doggone proud.  (Yes, this is a sappy feel-good post.  Deal with it.)  It's become a part of me, and though I'm a little scared at the idea of showing it in its entirety to Other People, I feel like the Rochesters have the potential to go out in the world and make something of themselves.

Which means, y'know, cover letters and agents and all that classical stuff (it's like jazz, but better).  I shall keep you peeps updated.  

In the meantime, I'm off to write some more on my beloveds and hope to get their story finished... soon.  You'll know when I'm done, I promise.  There will be much huzzah-ing and throwing of hats and handing imaginary chocolate all around.  (And then I'll be looking for beta readers.  So stay tuned.)

“Don’t feel bad,” Francie added hastily.  “You did better today than I used to when I first started sewing.  The first doll dress I made was constructed along the general figure lines of a potato.  And I didn’t have any potato-shaped dolls.  Well, there was one I named Antoinette who kind of looked like a rutabaga, but that’s another story for another time.”
~chapter ten