The blurb… feedback appreciated!

Tainted Inheritance, my fourth book, is nearly ready for publication. If you are interested, the first 4 chapters are available here. As you might have read yesterday, I’ve been working on the blurb/synopsis and designing the cover. While I rather enjoy cover design, writing the blurb is my least favorite thing about the whole process. As per Phil’s suggestion, it might help to have some feedback from other writers and readers. So…

Here it is! The bane of my existence. After tossing the ideas back and forth with Kevin over the last couple of days. I finally “settled” on this one. Now tell me, honestly, would you read a book based on this blurb?

Why would anyone want to kill Olivia Sutton? Her life was finally coming together after her divorce. She’s come into an unexpected inheritance, found new love with contractor Leo Donovan and made a fresh start in a new home. When she becomes the victim of one too many random accidents, she realizes a killer is stalking her. Has something in her past come back to haunt her? And can she and Leo discover the killer’s secret before it’s too late?

What do you think?

For the love of beautiful language…

My writer friends, do you ever find yourself using the same or similar words and phrases over and over again? It’s inevitable. We tend to write the way we talk. Most of us use a characteristic phraseology that makes up our everyday language. Our speech may be reflective of the region we live in, our ethnic origins or even our age. While these peculiarities lend color and flavor to our writing, even they can get repetitive after a while. It will be especially evident if we write longer fiction pieces or novels. What can we do to add variations to the words we pen?

Some of my earliest writing was in the form of poetry. That is not a coincidence. Poetry is introduced to us in the cradle by means of nursery rhymes and bedtime lullabies. As we grow and mature into our teen years and beyond, often music becomes a huge influence. Thus the lyrics of songs speak to us the way nothing else can. Many musicians like Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Patty Smith, Joni Mitchell, and Bruce Springsteen are considered to be not just song writers but poets as well.

Anthropologically, poetry in the form of song or saga has been used to help the balladeer or the skald keep the oral history of a people alive through story telling. It is some of the earliest writing ever discovered. The Epic of Gilgamesh, for example, dates back to 2000 BCE. Another Sumerian text, The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, may be even older than that.

What am I getting at, you ask? Poetry composition can be a delightful way to hone our skills in using creative vocabulary and illustative terminology. “But, I don’t want to be a poet,” you say. Shut up, yes you do. Here’s why…

I do enjoy writing poetry, but it is not my main avenue of expression. I am primarily a fiction writer. However, composing poetry demands that we paint a picture with our words, if you will. Putting things into verse, even if the verse doesn’t rhyme, pushes you to use descriptive and colorful terms that you wouldn’t use in day-to-day speech.

In describing my front lawn, for example, you could simply state, “the lawn was full of dead dandelions,” and that would be true! Before you write that ask, “What do those dandelions remind me of?” “What idea do they conjure?” They are dead, so how about headstones in a graveyard? They are skinny, so how about emaciated refugees fleeing a disaster or famine? They have tufts of thin, white spores… does that remind you of hair or clouds or even foam at the crest of a wave? Now write it like this, “Like a wave of fleeing refugees, the dandelions marched across the expanse of grass.”

I didn’t write a poem, but I wrote a poetic sentence. Obviously, a little of that can go a long way, too. Every sentence does not have to be metaphorical in nature. But in the right place, it can transform ordinary writing into extraordinary writing. I encourage you, if you have not attempted to write poetry before now, give it a try. Find a poetry challenge here on WordPress. I’ve listed two below. Take Blogging University’s Writing 201 and learn about the different styles and structures. Perhaps you will find you want to be a poet, after all!

Mind and Life Matters – Limerick Poetry challenge

Ronovan Writes – Haiku challenge

Sláinte! Uisce Beatha na Éireann

Week 11 in the Year Of Drinking Adventurously!  Irish Whiskey. (I hope I got my Irish translation right!)

That’s me waving to you from the cliffs of Dun Aengus on Innis More, one of The Aran Islands off the West Coast of Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland three times and I’m sure we’ll go again.  I’m trying to figure out how to move there permanently, that’s how much I love it.

So Irish Whiskey… It’s a permanent fixture in my liquor cabinet.  Most  of the time I have a bottle of regular old Jameson’s in my stash.

 Sometimes I splurge and buy the Red Breast, which is a “single pot still” style.  A pot still is like a huge kettle where the batch is boiled, the vapors rise, are collected and cooled to produce the whiskey.   Since the pot has to be cleaned after each use, only one batch of whiskey is produced  from the single pot.

My imbibition of Irish whiskey generally involves a glass and some ice.  Sometimes not even the ice.  Occasionally not even the glass!  (Just kidding!)  However, I have a fun, terribly-named, politically incorrect cocktail for you to try.  Actually, I’m not sure this qualifies as a cocktail.  If you go to Ireland, do not ask for this drink.  You will be deported.  And for Paddy’s sake, don’t tell anyone you learned it from me or they’ll never let me back in.

The Irish Car Bomb:  (Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

Fill a shot glass with a half shot each, Jameson’s Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream
Drop the shot glass into a pint glass of Guinness and watch it “explode”
Chug the whole thing in one fell swoop so you don’t lose a drop!
Enjoy responsibly!  Oh wait, too late for that…

When we travel to Ireland, it’s primarily for my husband’s work.  His company has a facility in Galway.  I get to tag along, but that means that for most of the time, I’m off traipsing around by myself.  That’s not a recipe for disaster, no.  The girl who fancies herself a writer wandering around the gorgeous countryside, listening to fairy tales and visiting the pubs on her own?  Not to mention the lovely men people and some of the best whiskey on the planet.  What could possibly go wrong?

There are pubs that cater to the foreign visitors and there are those that are more for the locals.  In Galway, I like to go to this place called Garavan’s – definitely more of a local hangout than a tourist place – where they pretend to want your business but they really don’t.  And they haven’t forgiven England for… well, everything.  Even stuff that’s not their fault.

So anyway, it’s dark inside, the tables are all close together with little stools crowded around.  They still have a small room at the front where ladies used to have to sit separately from the main part of the pub.  I think sometimes the bartender wants me to go have a seat in there.  But then I can’t see the hurling match on TV.  And ask him lots of questions while he tries to ignore me.

Garavan’s has a collection of 125 different whiskeys and a whiskey tasting menu.  The last time I was there I tried the Irish writer’s collection – a sampler of 5 different whiskeys from a few of Ireland’s most famous writers like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats.  I forget what all I tried.  But I definitely remember that the one I liked best was The Yellow Spot 12-year-old single pot still whiskey.  And I remember something about the Women’s Rugby World Cup – Ireland versus England.  And that they turned the TV off during “God Save the Queen.”  Things got ugly when Ireland started to lose.  And I made the mistake of asking for an Irish Car Bomb

Go visit Lula and see if she found the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow!