Writing: A State of Mind

Sometimes when I’m writing, the words flow neatly onto the screen, or paper, timed at an even pace. Other times, it’s like squeezing apples to get the juice flowing. I tend to write in spurts. I don’t write every day like some do. I cannot write on demand. I used to be able to do so, but I spent many years imbibing in alcoholic beverages and somehow my brain has suffered (I am now in recovery, 2.5 years).

I cannot seem to hold words or thoughts in my head for very long. If a thought comes to my mind and I don’t write it down, it is lost in the ether. I am sure many great ideas have slipped by me this way. I have taken to keeping a small notepad in my purse for those moments in which I need to scrawl away. I can then later transcribe my words into digital form. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing. If I’m driving, I pull over. If I’m watching a movie, I press pause. If I’m working on something else, I stop and write it down. I must keep track, as well; otherwise, I have a gazillion thoughts scribbled down or written into MS word and no cohesion.

Not everything I write is kept, although when I’m seriously revising a manuscript, I’ll keep a second file open to copy and paste the cuts to. I do hate to throw anything I write out, with the exception of typos. But as most writers know, this is part of the creative process. Just like painting over a mistake, we must omit our mistakes, even beautiful ones. Part of revising, I learned as an English major, is cutting or considerably changing parts of your written works. It is painful, but necessary.

What can be even more painful is those few seconds when someone announces they are reading your work. As anyone who has gotten a less than favorable review can attest to, it is terrifying not knowing what that particular person will say about your hard work. It can be crushing to receive a bad review or a critical review. We often rely on others to bolster our opinion of our own writing, and when that fails, it can be devastating.

Rejection letters work in the same way. My first manuscript was rejected numerous times both by publishers and agents. It actually gave me writer’s block for a long time; it took me years to gather the courage to send anything out again. I am still hesitant. One must consider, however, that an editor or agent is a person with different tastes and ideas, so one must never allow a rejection to stop them from writing, like I did.

But good reviews are awesome! I soar when I receive a good review, or when someone says they loved my writing. When they strike up a conversation about my characters, I look like a Cheshire cat. I adore those people and will remember them always. I have made quite a few friends as a result of my writing.

Writing, to me, is cathartic. I love to write, to see how well the words flow onto the page. If I lost the ability to write, I would be very depressed indeed. Even while I was suffering writer’s block and didn’t write a wink of fiction, I was still writing poetry and blogging. My motto these days is “never stop writing.”

Thank you for reading!

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Review of Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

Review by Violet Yates

I loved this book. It has just the right mixture of suspense and thrills to carry one through to the end. Emily Listfield is a gifted writer; one can tell just by reading the book that she put her all into writing this book.

The story is about thirty nine year old Lisa Barkley, whose marriage is at a stand-still. She thinks her husband, Sam, is having an affair. She is a PR representative at a firm that was just sold to a cutthroat firm from Boston. Her best friend is acting distant. Surrounded by the upper crust of New York’s finest, genteel society, she feels her lack of money is a failing she wishes she could change.

Lisa confronts her husband on his guarded actions and is mollified by his explanations. He is a writer working on a difficult story. When his explanations no longer suffice, she turns to a new found friend, David, for comfort. A man with resources, he gives her information she didn’t really want to know, and things begin to spiral. Suddenly, her best friend, Deirdre, is dead of suspicious circumstances. A few people are suspect, including her own husband.

This book was a great read. I do recommend it to anyone who likes a thriller with a twist at the end. The characters are rich in flavor, as are the descriptions of the upper echelons of New York City and their quirks. I feel I know now what it must be like to live in a society such as this, to always feel as if one is not up to par. Thank you, Emily Listfield, for enriching my life for a short time.

Review of No Wings Attached by Stella Deleuze

Review by Violet Yates

I received this book for free from the author after I’d read another one of her books, Excuse Me, Where is the Exit? I loved that one, and I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The plot is original, yet not outlandish. The writer, Stella Deleuze, uses the paranormal genre to accentuate a beautiful love story.

This story is about a woman in her early thirties named Celia, who had bad luck with love in the past and has a sore, slightly mistrustful heart as a result. Tom, a handsome man in his late twenties, is a wish consultant who is assigned to her. At first all he sees is a difficult woman who is jaded, but as he gets to know her, he begins to love her. But Tom has a secret, something that threatens to disassemble their almost perfect relationship. When the mishaps, and accidents, started happening, it served to draw me in to learn more about the ‘why.’

This story is cute, with just enough drama to keep the reader turning the pages. The conflict could have happened earlier, in my opinion, and should have been accentuated a bit better. But that is just my thoughts. I loved Celia’s and Tom’s characters; they have quirks and attributes which are memorable. Stella’s ability to describe the scene really helps: Celia’s love for cooking shines through; the scents of good cooking waft from the pages.

I look forward to reading more of Stella’s writing. Good job!

Eleanor the Wise

I wrote this in college, in one of my medieval lit classes. I hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned, next I will post a review to Stella Deleuze’s novel, No Wings Attached.

Eleanor the Wise

Eleanor the Wise

 

Long ago, in a place far away, there was once an Abbey where women could seek refuge in times of need. Although many did not choose to stay forever, there were a few who had forsaken their former worldly lives, choosing instead to live a holy life under the direct shadow of Christ. So here it was that, a long time ago, a group of unlikely women all came to gather under this most holy roof, to speak their minds, in that Abbey, where they did not have to fear reprisal from their male counterparts.

Juette, who upon the death of her husband, had escaped her fate of becoming trapped by another marriage she despised, had sought the solitude she longed for at the Abbey. The day that this story begins, she had received a letter from Merri, an old childhood friend from back east. She ran to share this letter, this most sad letter, bereft of hope, to Dhuoda and Drusiana, who had been visiting from a town not far from the Abbey. Dhuoda was the eldest of the group, save Eleanor, who had yet to arrive that day. Drusiana, Christianly and chaste, took great pride in her position at the Abbey, and hoped one day to become an Abbess.

“Merri writes of the grief that her solitude has caused her, as her Lord is absent. She also fears intrusion due to conflicts between her warring neighbors, and she has little ability to defend herself,” Dhuoda remarked once she had read the letter in its entirety, her wizened eyes a bit forlorn.

“Why a woman would suffer from the lack of a man’s presence is beyond me,” Juette said, her voice vehement. Juette detested men. Often she was chastised by the more dutiful, matronly women in the Abbey whose soul focus was to ensure that the ways of the past, that is, the male oriented societal bonds with which they lived, were kept in place.

“A woman’s only power comes from being a virgin, a nun, or a widow,” Drusiana agreed. “Their power is given to them by Christ. The right way for women, who do not desire an earthly marriage, is to wed Christ and forsake all worldly desires.” Drusiana wanted Juette to join the Abbey, and Juette, knowing what could befall her if she did not, saw the option as desirable. Compared to submitting to a man’s whims, that is.

Just then Heloise, having been married to her love, Abelard, and subsequently sent to the Abbey by him, came into the room after her daily devotions. Unbeknownst to most of the women, with the exception of Juette, Abelard had gotten her pregnant and forced her to marry him.

Then, Abelard had shunned her. Faced with the prospect of losing face in the eyes of the Church, he had forced her to cloister herself within the Abbey walls, doomed to know his love no further.

Heloise shared her lamentations with Juette, who sat in wonder, for she had never viewed the act of sex in quite the same way.

“You liked it?”

“Yes,” Heloise sighed. “Yet never shall I experience it again, I fear, as Abelard wants me to become a bride to Christ, rather than remain his wife.”

Catherine followed Heloise’s path from the chapel, intent on going to her room to write poems to her beloved. But on her way there, she overheard the conversation and sat down with the other women, a bit apart from the rest.

“Catherine, why don’t you read us the poem you wrote last night?” Dhuoda asked, indicating that she should move closer to the group. Edging in so as to close the gap between them, Catherine removed a slip of parchment from her robe, took a deep breath, and began.

 

“Of late I long to lie beside my love,

To feel the pulse of your skin beneath mine.

Although you are loyal to no one, I cannot glimpse another way.

My heart cries out, for I am betrayed.

You love me not.

It is her you pine for.

If I could but choose, I’d set my path straight.

Hateful are the days I cannot see you.

Long are the nights we do not speak.

My body is weak.

My mind’s eye is aware of the danger.

Yet still I persist.

If you would but give me a chance,

I would be content to share my life with you.”

 

After heaving a large sigh, Catherine announced she was finished. She reached up to her cheek and swept away a tear, then hung her head low.

“Oh, Catherine, that was beautiful,” exclaimed Heloise. She reached out to Catherine and drew her into her arms in a sisterly embrace, glad to have found a comrade in the game of love.

Iseult and Fenice glided into the room like two angels upon a cloud. They were sisters, but unalike as can be. Iseult was to be married to King Mark in two weeks time, and although she loved Tristan, she could see no way to escape the destiny laid out for her. Fenice was to marry Alis shortly thereafter, yet she had devised a way to be with the one she loves, Cliges.

She told the women her secret and Iseult stared at her in horror. Fenice stood up. “Although you love Tristan, you would rather let him die than betray your elders. You accept the fate handed to you as if you have no other choice. I choose not to accept it. I will not be like you, my dear sister.” With that she took her leave, only to return moments later.

“There is a woman outside, disguised as a male minstrel, singing her heart. Come!”

The women rushed to the window, where sure enough, there stood a fair woman, a trifle mannish by her get-up. She was one whom they had never laid eyes upon before, singing of a land and love far away.

She spread her arms out wide, opened her mouth, and crooned:

 

“Over hill and over dale, I have traveled far.

          Seeking my mate, Aucassin the Great.

          Whom I love more than anything,

          And for whom I hold such high esteem.

          Aucassin and me, we pledged with a ring.

          To seek each other to the ends of time,

          Thus, I am here singing this rhyme.

          So ever more, I will plod wearily,

          And repeat my story as necessary,

          Until I meet him.”

 

Upon the end of her song, the woman announced, “I am Nicollette, daughter of Carthage. Lo! I have been through many crises and tribulations during my journey, yet still I cannot rest. I must find my beloved Aucassin. Have any of you, my good women, seen or heard of him hereabouts?”

“Nay,” the women chorused.

“Forgive me, but I must take leave of you good women. Good day!”

Thus the fair Nicolete passed on, still singing songs about her love of, and search for, Aucassin. She came upon Eleanor, an elderly matron who was still a bit of a rebel. Thereby Nicolete repeated her tale of woe. Eleanor shook her head and bid the woman good fortune upon her travels, then she continued on to the Abbey.

“I must set these young women straight,” she muttered to herself as she drank in the view of the Abbey. Once Eleanor had reached the main entrance to the Abbey, Dhuoda met her upon the steps and led her inside.

“Here you will find peace and comfort, my dear Eleanor.”

“I hope so,” Eleanor replied as she stared at the women who surrounded her. She knew their stories, each and every one, for many times did Dhuoda write to her and share the news of the Abbey and the surrounding area. Releasing her hair from its hooded shelter, she said, “I desire rest for now, but later, I would very much like to meet with the girls.”

“Very well.”

Dhuoda led her to a room, where Eleanor and her maid rested for a bit. Later, they joined the others for supper, and afterwards, retired to the drawing room for tea.

Once all had gathered, Eleanor stood.

“Dhuoda has shared your stories of woe and chagrin with me, my dear ladies. Know where your discomfort lies. It is men who have done these things to you, and you allow it to happen.”

“It is unwise to rebel against male authority; it is a sin against God to do so.” Quite distraught by Eleanor’s treachery, Dhuoda had stepped in to admonish Eleanor.

Dhuoda began to instruct Eleanor on the way in which women should behave, especially when it came to being submissive to men. Heloise chimed in, showing her support of Dhuoda’s statements.

“I would rather die than ever submit to a man again,” Juette declared.

A chorus of disagreement ensued. The entire room was in turmoil, one woman pitted against the next, until finally, shouting over the uproar, Eleanor broke in and stopped them all in their tracks.

“Have you ever gained a single thing from men?”

The room became hushed as the girls pondered this question. Dhuoda opened her mouth to object, but was silenced by Eleanor, who held out her palm.

“Well?”

“Our children,” Dhuoda said.

“Your children, whom you have never seen in your entire life?”

Dhuoda bowed her head and nodded, “Their life was not for me to lead. They were male children. If they had been female…”

“If they had been female, their futures would have been even more dreadful. Iseult, Fenice, the two of you know something of this. Both of you are to be married to men whom you don’t know and even despise. Is that not true?”

They nodded their heads in unison.

“Each of us loves another. Yet there is little hope,” Iseult said, her eyes filled with tears.

“No hope? Is that so?” Eleanor asked as she stared hard at Fenice. “What say you, Fenice?”

Fenice blushed, “There are ways.” Her face brightened as she added, “Ways that women can resort to, without having to betray herself or her husband, as well!” Her enthusiasm was catching; many of the women in the room leaned in, intrigued.

Drusiana shook her head, got up and walked over to Eleanor. “What are you doing, Eleanor? There are many ways in which a woman can live a satisfactory life while pleasing both her husband and her Lord above.”

“Great words from the ‘blessed virgin’ herself. But tell me, can a virgin live a full life?”

“Yes, if she is true to Christ.”

“There are some of us who would prefer a life of bliss within the marriage,” Eleanor said, her gaze resting upon Heloise. Heloise raised her eyes to Eleanor and as she did so, her face flushed a brilliant pink. “Is that not so, Heloise?”

“Yes, but Abelard does not wish my presence to bring him shame, thus, I am resigned,” Heloise said with a sigh.

“But you never really forget what you have once experienced,” Eleanor prompted.

“No, you do not.”

“That’s the truth of it,” Juette piped in, “I would rather die than ever be subjected to that misery again.” Memories of the sexual horrors she had borne while married ran through her mind even as she spoke, causing her to cringe.

“You enjoyed it not, for you were forced to marry someone you did not love. Perhaps if you married someone of your own choice, you would feel differently.”

“Perhaps.”

“It is the truth,” Eleanor declared. She turned to Catherine, who had remained silent through all of it.

“Catherine, what say you? Your opinion on this matter is most important.”

Catherine shook her head. “If I had a choice? Why, I would be with the one I love. Yet he loves another. I do not see how my situation applies, Eleanor.”

“Ah, but it does, my dear child. Did he not promise to love you? Did he not betray that promise? A typical man,” Eleanor said, as memories of Henry’s treacheries came back to her.

Tears sprung unbidden to Catherine’s eyes. “Need you remind me?”

“Yes, I need to remind all of you. If you do not fight, you will never have any choices at all when it comes to your lives. Don’t bow down to authority. Stand up to them! Only then will you acquire what you need. Catherine, instead of relenting, and thus, agreeing to take what he will give you, stand your ground! Demand that he love you, or be willing to lose you. Tell him to let her go. If he does not, he is not worthy of you. There are other men who will treat you the way you need to be treated, and love you the way you desire.”

Catherine said nothing, but the spark in her eyes had come back; she seemed to sit taller, and her eyes appeared more brilliant than they had been before. She looked as if she were plotting something within her mind, yet she would not share whatever it was with the others. Instead, she rose and excused herself.

“Heloise?” Eleanor asked.

“Yes?”

“Write your dear Abelard. Tell him how you feel about this situation he has subjected you to.”

“Yes, Eleanor,” Heloise said. She too got up and left.

“Iseult? What are you going to do?”

“Marry King Mark. Alas, there is no other way.”

Eleanor shook her head. “Some chose the way of folly, to their own detriment,” she said, then turned back to Fenice, “And you, Fenice? Are you going to go through with your marriage to Alis?”

“Yes, but I’ve got a plan. I shall not betray Cliges, nor Alis.” With determination written upon her face, Fenice rose to her feet and departed.

“Juette?”

“I shall remain here. I do not desire another husband. Instead, I shall devote my life to Christ.”

Drusiana nodded her approval, took the arm of Juette and together, they exited the room, heads bent together as if sharing secrets unknown to the others.

Dhuoda stayed in the room with Eleanor, quiet and each alone with their thoughts for a time. They stared at the fire that was roaring within the hearth, its flames almost licking the stone above. At last, Dhuoda turned to Eleanor and spoke.

“You have offered advice to everyone else. What of me?”

“You have accepted your position in life, Dhuoda. Your sons are grown. Your husband is absent. What would you like to do?”

“I would ensure that my sons know who I am, even if I should never set eyes upon them.”

“Write, Dhuoda. Make sure that you are not forgotten, even after you have passed.”

“And you, Eleanor? What shall you do?”

“I am an old woman. I’ve lived my life the only way I could. I’ve rebelled. Now is the time for peace. I shall stay here with Juette.”

“And so it shall be,” nodded Dhuoda, who got up and helped Eleanor to her feet. Together, they traversed the length of the hall, carried their feet up the winding, stony stairs and ascended to their separate rooms, where they both retired.

Cover for Tears of Heaven

I think I’ve found the cover for Tears of Heaven. My son’s girlfriend is a brilliantly gifted artist. She drew me a picture with pastels last summer, and I never really gave it a second thought. Tonight while considering what to use for my cover, I happened to glance at it. It is perfect. It is just stunning enough to grab someone’s attention and abstract enough to make someone want to look closer to see what it is. I feel really good about this.

Here’s the cover, like this or comment to let me know if you think I should use it:

 

Tears of Heaven, cover art by Laura Whitney

Blurb for novel:

Lena Ka’awa, a dark-haired Hawaiian beauty, takes on the powers of Pele, which causes catastrophe for Kaitlyn McDowell, and Ikaika Leahi. Tristan, Kaitlyn’s husband dies in a fiery car accident. Ikaika’s wife, Beth, and their child, Aolani, are also killed. The two, Kaitlyn and Ikaika meet up at the graveside and look to each other for friendship and comfort. Aolani is now a ghost with supernatural powers; she ‘pushes’ Kaitlyn to investigate the ‘accident’ further, causing them to suspect that Lena killed them… Tears of Heaven is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. It has a lot of Hawaiian culture and history in it, but it is classified as contemporary fiction.

Can The Writer See Me? (via Wordsmith’s Desk)

A very beautiful post I just read. I feel others would be inspired by it. 🙂

I create a character, and the character is me; I write fiction and it's as real as can be; I can't see the writer, Can the writer see me? Writers create from different perspectives, yet the thoughts and penned words reflect, to some degree, the writer's hopes and dreams and experiences. In personal application, I find traces of myself in my writings and poems. I will write a fictional short story to emphasize a point in life and find that there i … Read More

via Wordsmith's Desk

A possible cover image for my upcoming novel, Tears of Heaven

I’ve been tinkering with image files to create a good cover image for my upcoming book, Tears of Heaven. I should have the book ready to publish hopefully by the end of summer, or maybe sooner if I get to work on it in a couple weeks. It is half done at the moment.

I am looking for feedback on this cover. Tell me if it wows you, or makes you want to know more about the story.

Tears of Heaven

A little about Tears of Heaven:

Tears of Heaven. It’s set in Hawaii, has a lot of history in it but contemporary. It’s about Madame Pele- a woman, Lena, takes on powers of Pele and causes catastrophe for my main character, Kaitlyn, and Ikaika, the other main character. Her husband dies as a result, in addition to Ikaika’s wife and child, Aolani. The two meet up at the graveside, along with Aolani’s ghost. Aolani ‘pushes’ Kaitlyn to investigate the ‘accident’ further, causing them to suspect that Lena killed them…
I’m still working on the description a bit, but that is the gist of the novel thus far. It is a classified as a paranormal mystery, with literary themes. I would love feedback on the cover, and for those of you who have read Tears, it would help if you could tell me if this cover speaks to the theme of the book.

Also, I am going to need reviewers, so if you are interested, please email me at violetyates2@gmail.com for more information. I am going to make a list of people who will be able to review the book before it goes live. 🙂

Thanks for looking! Please leave a comment or two below if you liked this blog.

Violet Yates

Review of Moon Palace by Paul Auster

Review by Violet Yates

SPOILER ALERT

I loved this novel. Paul Auster has done it again, with remarkable depth and brilliance. As always, Auster’s ideas are amazing, and make for an entertaining read as well as a study on identity.

Marco Stanley Fogg, or M.S. Fogg, is an orphan who seems to be spending the entire story searching for his identity, mostly, it appears, indirectly. The novel starts out in New York City, when M.S. is finishing up college at Columbia University. He begins by explaining about his relationship with his Uncle Victor, and how Victor had gifted his entire collection of books to M.S. M.S. uses the novels, packed into boxes, as furniture at first. But when his Uncle dies, he slowly begins to dismantle his furniture, and thus his identity, by reading the novels and selling them off as he finishes. Prior to this, he had been dubbed Phileas, a character from Around the World in 80 Days, a movie that Uncle Victor had taken him to see as a child. Upon his uncle’s death, he has no choice but to slough off this identity. There is no one left to M.S. in the entire world, so he allows a financial dilemma to literally consume him until his life is at stake. Then he meets Kitty, and a new identity is formed, that of ‘Kitty’s Twin.’

When M.S. becomes destitute, homeless and sick, it seems as if the end is near. But he is rescued by Kitty and his friend Zimmer. Zimmer brings him home and nurses him back to health. He narrowly escapes being drafted into the army because the doctors think he is crazy. He begins to rally and offers to repay Zimmer for helping him by translating a French manuscript into English. Then he takes a job with Thomas Effing, an elderly, well-to-do gentleman in need of a companion. Effing had to replace his former companion, Pavel Shum, after Pavel was hit by a car, as was M.S.’ mother. Thus M.S. takes on a new identity; he became Pavel’s ghost.

While working for Effing, he learns of how Effing used to be Julian Barber, until Barber faked his own death, became a hermit named Tom, then dubbed himself Thomas Effing. Effing turns out to have a son named Solomon Barber, who in turn is the father of someone else. Solomon had initiated his own search for his identity as a child, for he was also an orphan, just like Kitty and M.S.

This entire story involves people and their attempt to find their identities, to discover who they truly are. This is not just a physical journey, but a spiritual one. Finding one’s place in the world… It’s not just about names but about who we are as human beings, and our place in the universe, about how the world is a large place, but at the same time, we are all related to a certain extent.

I have enjoyed Paul Auster’s novels since college. Although it isn’t an easy, light read, its weight causes the reader to ponder the deeper meaning of life and our place in it. The interconnectedness of the characters in this story shows us how truly small our world really is.