Friday, January 28, 2011

Myths for you and me

The Rockville 8 welcomes Harlequin Spice Briefs author Lynne Silver who's been thinking about how myths affect our modern lives. Read on!

My 6 year old is reading The Odyssey. Yes, he's very smart. We're very proud.

It all started a few weeks ago after watching the movie Percy Jackson.

Medusa, Hydra, and Minotaurs began to feature prominently in imaginary play and artwork. I adore mythology, so I encouraged it. Imagine our delight when we discovered that Mary Pope Osbourne, author of The Magic Tree House series, has adapted The Odyssey to an absolute perfect reading level for my children.

So we've been reading about Odysseus's journey supplemented with another children's book of general Greek mythology.

What stories! Intrigue, romance, monsters, epic battles...everything popular fiction authors strive for and much more.

As a romance author do my heroes live up to the standard set by Perseus, Theseus or Jason? Are any of my heroines as beautiful or wise as Io, Atalanta, or Helen? Or as vindictive?

Could I ever come up with the best “forced marriage” plot ever in the form of Hades kidnapping Persephone and forcing her to the Underworld six months of the year? Or poor Orpheus who braved Hades wrath to win back his beloved?

Maybe not, but I can use mythological themes as spring boards for plot lines. What about you? Where do you look for inspiration? Or what do you like to read? Any favorite myths?

-Lynne Silver
“Behind the Duke’s Door”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What A Little Poetry Can Do

We spend a lifetime gathering, sharpening, even discarding tools from our kit to lift our writing to a higher level. Poetry is one such tool that I occasionally reach for to immerse in, meditate on, and use to free myself from external obstacles and inner fears that stifle my writing.

Poems take me on a journey where language, rhythm, imagery, and voice come alive. The words stimulate my writing muscles to create, in similar vein, such vivid scenes and to seek and be unafraid of the truth through each character's arc. I'm encouraged to dig deeper to string together words that stir a reader's passion.

Rules permeate a writer's world, especially in genre fiction. Sometimes, those very rules bind the writer's creativity until the "corset" becomes routine. The writing becomes stale, predictable, flat. Therefore, it is not unusual for the writer to lose her passion, procrastinate, or shelve the very thing that used to bring such joy.

I use poems to heal, to stir love, to communicate, to boost the creative juices necessary to be a well-rounded writer. Poetry saved me many times. I had wonderful teachers who nurtured and supported my writing talents. On the flip side, I had a few teachers who doubted that I owned my talent with accusations of plaigerism. In middle school, I had tested two grades above my English class and had skipped a grade, nevertheless, the school placed me in the English class's lowest level for that new grade. In high school, the teacher said my style sounded like a text book (from her desk) and with no proof tried to fail me. Then she met my mother...'nuff said. In college, my technical writing teacher accused with no proof. A university peer evaluation dismissed the teacher's opinion. It was noted that since I was schooled in my early years under the British system, my writing reflected that style.

Maya Angelou's poems said all that I had to say. Her words celebrate who I am and what I have to contribute. One of my favorites is Still I Rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops
Weakened by my soulful cries

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm like a black ocean, leaping and wide
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wonderously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave
I am the dream and the hope of the slave
I rise
I rise
I rise

The benefits of poetry are countless. Read a poem and be liberated.
Happy writing, my fellow writers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Be Fearless

A great American once said, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." Never have those words been more true. Whether you're a reader and the struggling economy has got you down, or you're a writer and the often-bleak publishing picture bothers you, I believe we have to go forward... and we have to go fearless.

That, of course, is easier said than done. As both a reader and a writer, I've come up with a plan for going fearless this year. By putting things in persepective, I find I can go forward. Maybe my plan doesn't work for you. But that's all right. Feel free to come up with your own method for moving forward. Because that's the bottom line: moving forward in spite of fear.

Nic's Tips for Moving Forward
As readers, we can:

~ Remember why we read in the first place. All those things we have to worry about? They fade away when we're lost in a good book.

~ Remember reading doesn't have to be expensive. We can borrow as well as buy. Trade with your girlfriends. Hit the library's sale shelf and take a chance on a new writer for a few cents.

~ Remember reading is an excellent value. Even when we buy a best-selling hardback, we're getting bang for our buck. That book will make for many hours of entertainment. Where else will a dollar go so far?

As writers, we can:

~ Remember why we write in the first place. All those things we have to worry about? They fade away when we're lost in a good book - our own book.

~ Remember there are still readers out there. So there will need to be books out there. When we see the headlines about publishers' problems and bookstores' troubles, we need to keep in mind most of them are still looking for product. And that means they're looking for our books.

~ Remember you're free to write your story your way. With tighter strictures and tougher criteria from agents, editors, contests, and even critique groups, a writer can feel under the gun when she sits at her keyboard. But be free. Write your way. Listen and learn, but the bottom line is, be fearless.

But whatever you do, keep reading, keep writing, move forward, and most of all, be fearless.

Will you join me in this? Let the Rockville 8 know . . .

Monday, January 3, 2011

Things Yet to Come

Last week, my family and I went to "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theater. The play was wonderfully directed and acted with a good theatrical interpretation of the visits by the Ghosts of Christmas.

This story always makes me think about my own past, present and future. I'm reminded of regrets, accomplishments and upcoming events as each ghost makes their entrance. It's a good story to mull over at the end of the year because it fits into the New Year's Eve notion of reviewing the year past and planning for the one ahead.

Regarding my writing, there are times that I wished that I'd written when I could have instead of wasting time. The sense of pride I felt at participating in NaNoWriMo and coming away with more words written in a month than I'd ever done before. The exciting promise of the story I've started and hope to finish soon.

"A Christmas Carol" shows us that it's never too late, no matter what you've done in the past. The power to change the course of your life lies within you. Or, in the case of writers, in your fingertips. So, here's to a year of productivity if for no other reason than you don't want the "Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come" visiting you.

Seriously, I saw him. You don't want that pointed in your direction.