Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hearts, Ghosts, and War, Oh My!

I read “Water’s Purple Heart” by Catherine Ryan Hyde in about two weeks. That’s a slow pace compared to some people I know and how fast I used to read, but I’ve got a lot more responsibilities than I used to. That’s why I left the book at work until last weekend. Then I devoured the remaining two thirds on Saturday, snacking on it here and there until I got to gobble it up as dessert after the kids were in bed.

The book was an easy read with it’s simple and yet poetic prose... Okay maybe not poetic, but succinct or concise sounds too cut and dry (and makes me think of the documents I write and review at work). But what is poetry anyway but lyrical prose striving to be succinct and precise, but in a pretty. So yes, in my mind the prose was poetic. Not once did my eyes wander ahead trying to skip dialog or descriptions.

Walter, the central character in “Walter’s Purple Heart”, is trying to come to grips with the fact he’s dead and life moved on without him. Killed at the end of World War II, he’d left his mother’s lemon pie and a fiancée to enlist with his best friend Andrew. Reincarnated in Michael, a twenty-one year old drifting pot-head, Walter manages to reconnect with Andrew and Mary Ann (the fiancée). Together the four of them sort out Walter’s life, death, and the feelings he hadn’t quite worked out.

Amazingly enough I finished the book right at bedtime, with my husband’s head on my lap. (Poor guy was exhausted from riding his dirt bike - fyi, the link is a video.) It was quite fitting, given the theme of love that ran through the book. (Real love too, not that stuff they try to pass off as love these days.) I definitely like this book. There are so many things in it that I can relate to.
  • Walter / Michael’s different ways of feeling love – I’ve been through the transition of I do this because it’s expected to needing to hear my loved ones voice at least once a day.
  • The Purple Heart – my grandfather earned one, but he never talked about it. My grandmother had to eves drop on his conversations with his army buddies to figure it out.
  • Walter’s love of lemon pie – my grandfather's mother was a working woman (in a time of few) and to show her boys love, she'd stay up late and bake. My grandmother continued baking for my grandfather, though it was slowly killing him, because that's how he understood love.
Anyway, the book is sadly out of print (maybe she’ll get around to an e-book?) but if you go to her website page for it, she’s got some links to where used books can be found. Catherine Ryan Hyde is also the author of that amazing story “Pay It Forward”. I’ve seen the movie, now I feel need to read the book.

And since we’re on the topic of books, Charley R put up my guest post on her blog, Leaning Tower of Plot, yesterday. It’s all about the books I grew up with and how they’ve influenced me as a writer.

:} Cathryn Leigh

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Phoenix may Triumph, but The Queen Needs her Wings!

So I’ve finished editing Phoenix Triumphant and, as my Protagonize fans know, I have only six chapters left to post. It feels weird to be done with editing. I floundered a bit last night, not quite knowing what to do with myself. I haven’t gotten up at 5 am to edit either. But, my goal to finish editing and posting by February 29, will be accomplished.

Next up on my list of things to do is edit Sarah’s Phoenix, or more to the point re-write it. I want that done by the end of September so I can send it out for critique. However, the month of march is going to be about preparing for that. I’ve got me a to do list.
  • Revamp the map – I’m found the perfect are on the globe to use and I’m putting my county in the southern hemisphere. Nothing like setting a northern hemisphere girl down under. Just one more thing for Sarah to get used to.
  • Outline the whole plot – Looking at the spreadsheet I used to keep track of time, distance, and events, it’s clear why Sarah’s Phoenix is only 28K words – Nothing happens! So I’m going to fix that by outlining Wholawski’s rise to power and his dastardly deed. Sarah’s going to be coming to face with a few things sooner rather than later. *snickers* I may even be mean enough to have Sarah witness Allmarah’s kidnapping... not that she’d realize it at the time. *grin*
  • Move Sarah’s Phoenix to a private group – just something that will have to be done when i start revamping it. But, I don’t want to delete it because I want to keep the comments from my readers for posterity.

The unmodified dress
But before getting into all that work. I’m giving myself a break, well just from my Phoenixes.  I’ve still got my collaborations to work on and a novel to finish reading. Still I feel I deserve a reward. Not a food reward mind you, but my other pleasure, a costume reward. I’m going to start work on my Dragon Queen Costume and hopefully finish her wings. I believe I mentioned my Dragon Queen a while ago, well now, her are some pictures of it in its current state. Plus my the inspiration for my wings... sadly they didn’t come out nearly as well as they hoped, but hopefully they will end up cool.

My inspiration and pattern

The Wings  - They do not stay extended on their own. However you can see how thin the material is that I used. I still have to work out how I'm going to actually wear them. The trick is to make them somewhat easy to get on and off for traveling.

:} Cathryn Leigh / Elorithryn

Thursday, February 16, 2012

“...gonna use a nom de plume...”

If you don’t start singing the song from Disney’s Aladdin, then watch the video and maybe you will. :}

Okay back to the subject of Nom de Plums, or Pen Names. As I was perusing writing and publishing related blogs I came across this one from The Passive Voice, Pen Names – Everything You Need to Know, and it got me thinking about how I could use various pen names for all the different categories of stories I have on my hard drive and the names I could use.

I got a little carried away, but thankfully a post by Anne R. Allen, Part IIIof her How to Blog series reeled me in. She recommends, for the second or third time, that you should use your name as your blog title so your readers can find you.

I commented how I have name confusion, between Elorithryn and Cathryn. Okay I have name confusion on more than those two, but Anne commented that she’d seen Elorithryn, but hadn’t realized it was me. That gave me pause.

Isn’t the sun avatar clue enough? I suppose if you don’t know me, or the fact that it’s my tattoo, perhaps it is confusing. The thing is I consider the sun my Brand more than my name. Names change, that tattoo is quite permanent. Not to mention it is the source of my sunny disposition. *grin* It’s also a unique design, born of my own drawing and the tattoo artist’s flare for color.

But perhaps the sun isn’t enough. Perhaps this ought to be Cathryn Leigh’s Diary, not Elorithryn’s, though the web address might have to stay, though maybe I could get I don’t know what that will do to my net presence though. You see, if you Google Elorithryn, I pop up immediately (this blog, Protagonize, NaNo...). Google Cathryn Leigh and you don’t find me (the woman I was named after pops up though; she’s the only one who spells her name like I do). *sigh*

So, if anyone has any advice for me on this quandary, please share it. I’m beginning to wonder if I should have stayed Elorithryn when I started posting comments on writing blogs... But I want to be published as Cathryn Leigh.... *sob, sigh, breath and grin*

:} Cathryn Leigh

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Shattering Review or Two

Review One: “A Thousand Glass Flowers” by Prue Batten

This is one of those books that feeds my reading addiction like pellets for my stove. Seriously you buy the pellets, feed them into the stove and they heat our family room like nobody’s business. She did the same thing with her book, lighting my mind with the passion to read. The only reason I remembered to make dinner is because my husband reminded me to.

I started reading this book on January 29th, thinking I was getting a head start on my February novel. Yeah, that little percent read mark, well it made it to 100% before midnight on January 31st. That’s okay I’ll read “Walter’s Purple Heart” by Catherine Ryan Hyde this month. But what made “A Thousand Glass Flowers” so good that I had to read it whenever I had the chance to?

It was most definitely the characters. It starts with Lalita who is a young scribe; a profession normally reserved for men. She is a strong woman, raised by her loving aunt and uncle, suddenly thrust into a world of lust and greed. Opposite her is Finnian who is a Færan or magical being that is ‘Other’ than human. At first it’s hard to form an opinion of him, but as his story unfolds you feel deep sympathy for the man who grew up without love.

Their connection was painted with such skill that by the end of the second chapter, I had to read two more; hers and his. Continuing on two chapters at a time I waited with baited breath for their paths to cross. But, there is more at stake than their meeting as they race to find the Cantrips of Unlife. Sometimes working together sometimes apart, each with their own reason for the hunt.

Besides the characters, there is the rich and varied world though which they travel. “A Thousand Glass Flowers” takes us on a tour of the Mediterranean coastlands. The names of places are slightly changed, but familiar enough that only a minimum of description was required to immerse me in it. A feat Prue pulled off well.

But in the end, it was the characters I cared about, wondering if they would ever trust each other enough to work as a team and how their quest would end. I’ll warn you that the end had no happily ever after, but it was satisfying. So satisfying I’m not even trying to imagine what happens next. And that’s pretty amazing since I have a tendency to imagine more.

Okay, Okay, this isn’t a review view but I just had to do some squealing for her. Those of you readers who are from Protagonize will know her best as SpookOfNight. She’s probably said hi to everyone on the site at least once. Anyway, she’s taken the plunge, submitted a short story and voila! Publication in “SaffinaDesforges Presents... (The Kindle Coffee-Break Collection Vol.2)” – that’s the Kindle US link, Charley’s got the Kindle UK link on her blog. I’m sure other platforms will follow for every country possible.
The i in MWiDP doesn’t stand for international for no reason!

I think I might have to see if I can get in the next edition, so we can get a running streak – Miriam in Volume 1, Charley in Volume 2 and Me in Volume 3... But what in the world would I submit?

:} Cathryn Leigh

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Bull in the China

Now Mythbusters actually busted the whole bull in a china shop but that’s not stopping me. No Sir-ee...

Actually this topic came up via one of the other blogs I visit, Sierra Godfrey’s  and she proposed a wedding china blog fest, since lots of people made comments about their china when she remarked she’d seen hers on TV. Crazy I know, but it meant I didn’t have to think of a topic today.

I don’t know where our wedding china is right now, but I assure it’s safely packed away in the boxes it came in. But thanks to the internet, here’s a picture of it: Noritake’s Silver Palace pattern in platinum.  We’ve used our two place setting (two more than I thought we’d get) once; seriously.
It was Thanksgiving for two at the new Mullen household out in California. We’d used all of our vacation time for the wedding, none of our parents could come out and visit up, but that didn’t stop me from making a nice meal. We had Cornish Game Hens, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans amandine. It’s my apparently my go to fancy family meal as that’s what we had for our intimate Christmas dinner this past December (well as intimate as you can be when your kids are 34 and 6).

Anyway, I didn’t even want to put formal china on the list, but my fiancé (now hubby of course) insisted. He also insisted we get married in a real church and have a real wedding, when I would have been fine with a ceremony in the woods and a BBQ reception. He’s got an old fashioned streak, bless the man, and a goofy romantic one two *heart*. Sorry, where was I? Right I didn’t want formal china. I knew no one on my side of the family would buy it for us and I was used to using the everyday stuff for every, single, day.

Amazingly we did get two sets, from his Aunt, but that was it. So we had our romantic thanksgiving for two and then, well we haven’t used it since. It got packed up and moved twice. I’m not even sure I know where it is in the boxes that still haven’t been unpack. Not that it matters. I’m not using fine china for holidays until the kids get older. Then we’ll have to unpack one of the sets we’ve inherited from his grandparents.
Till then we’ve got our Pfaltzgraff, Rio dishes (place setting for twelve) that serve us well.

:} Cathryn Leigh

Oh and in other news...

I received my sighed copy of “Walter’s Purple Heart” by Catherine Ryan Hyde, which I’ll be reading this month (woot)

And that current first chapter of Sarah’s Phoenix is up on Saffina Desforge’s blog!