Monday, April 28, 2014

PhoeniX From Ashes

Welcome to the A to Z challenge - Xactomundo!

A to Z Writing advice:
eXceptions – Sometimes you have to break the rules. We need to follow those basic writing guidelines, but we also need to eXpress ourselves to show our true characters and tell a good story. It can be hard to tell when breaking the rules works or not, but that's what critique partners are for - they will give you their opinion, as will an editor, but even then, you have to make the final call. You are the author and what you say should be the final word - just remember you also have to live with your choices, and reviewers are not always good with too much outside the boX... These are tough decisions! Go with your gut! (btw, those men jokes have Xceptions too - love all your comments!!)

Visiting BROKEN BRANCH FALLS (MG Fantasy):

Xandy - A purple pixie and the girlfriend of Argus the goblin, Gabe's friend. Shh! Don't tell!

And for laughs:
Reasons Men are Happier People... 

X is for Xmas
Men can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives
on December 24 in 25 minutes.

Read all about it!
Carrie-Anne Brownian, writer of fantastic, intriguing historic fiction, is doing a guest post for her upcoming novel! I've followed Carrie-Anne for a long time, and if you haven't seen her a to z posts featuring gorgeous, European and Russian backdrops, you need to check them out!

Now, for a closer look at Carrie-Anne's latest work:

Sometimes painful real-life experience becomes unintentional firsthand research.  I created Jakob DeJonghe as a secondary character in 1995 and wrote a limp into his character in 1998, but I didn't have my own leg injury and resulting limp until 2003-04.  In 2006, I wrote a long short story/piece of backstory about him, which I was doing for a number of my European characters who are ultimately linked back to my Atlantic City characters, but it wasn't till 2012 that I got the idea to turn these stories into full novels.  Jakob's story was first, and ended up as two volumes.  The first tells his story from October 1940-May 1946, and the second is about his first year in America, May 1946-April 1947.

While writing everything that comes after Jakob severely breaks his right ankle and foot after jumping from a death train in November 1942, I just drew on my own memories (although unlike Jakob, I luckily was able to have surgery and morphine).  If I didn't have my own leg injury and limp, I couldn't have realistically depicted things like the terror of first bearing weight through the foot again, the staggering, robotic walk when you're just relearning how to walk normally, the panic at having to navigate stairs, the trick of learning to go up stairs backwards (either sitting or standing), how to hop downstairs while holding the banister on your stronger side, how you feel weather so keenly in the bones of your gimpy foot, learning to lead with the newly-dominant-by-default leg.

Jakob's frustration and embarrassment over being left with a limp also came from my experience.  I really did feel better about myself when I found out about some famous people who had limps.  In particular, since I'm a huge Three Stooges fan, finding out Curly Howard had a real-life limp gave me a huge boost of pride and self-confidence.  One of the book's dedications is to all my fellow limpers, past, present, and future.
Author:  Ursula Hartlein
Title:  And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away
Genre:  Historical fiction, Bildungsroman
Release date:  9 May 2014

Jakob DeJonghe can think of nothing but revenge when the Nazis coerce his father into suicide and his little sister mysteriously disappears the day before Yom Kippur.  As conditions in Amsterdam worsen, Jakob is determined to fight back and be the master of his own destiny, just as his heroes the Maccabees did in ancient times.

While en route from Westerbork, Jakob seizes an opportunity to jump from a death train, breaking his foot as he lands.  As he limps for his life toward a forest, he’s found by four young resistance fighters and taken to a safe house.  Even though Jakob has been left with a permanent limp, he’s still determined to defend his country and track down the men who killed his father. 

His dream comes true when he joins his new friends’ resistance group, but after a chance meeting with a spirited young woman on one of his missions, he’s jolted by emotions he thought he’d buried.  And when he’s recruited into the Princess Irene Brigade and made a real soldier, Jakob realizes his battle is only half-won.  If he ever wants to survive a world that will never be ordinary again, love and not hate will have to carry him through.  And if he finds his dream girl again, this painful readjustment just might be easier.

Originally from Pittsburgh, I've lived most of my life in Albany, NY and also spent a bit under six years in the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.  I've been a voracious, advanced reader since getting hyperlexia at age three, and have been writing since age four.  I have a BA in History and Russian and East European Studies from UMass-Amherst.  My areas of historical expertise are Russian history, the WWII/Shoah era, and 20th century American history.  Other areas of interest include the American Civil War, Japanese history, prehistory, and the High and Late Middle Ages.  I'm currently pursuing a belated MS in library science from the State University of NY at Albany.  My dream since age sixteen has been to earn a Ph.D. in Russian history, with a focus on GULAG and the Great Terror.  My ideal career would be to work in the Russian history or literature section of a museum, archive, or university library.  I also love world languages and religions, silent and early sound film, antique cars, vinyl records, vintage computers, and cross-stitch.  My ultimate dream is to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, though I'll settle for being remembered as a writer for all time like Shakespeare, with characters and storylines that resonate across eras and cultures.

Carrie-Anne has two pen names - Ursula Hartlein for more serious, heavy historicals and soft sci-fi and Carrie-Anne Brownian for shorter, more light-hearted historicals and family sagas featuring American-born characters.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know the awesome Carrie-Anne! Didn't realize she was injured that badly though. And yes, her posts for the Challenge have been fascinating.
Just for the record, I've never gone shopping on Christmas Eve...

Christine Rains said...

Congrats to Carrie-Anne! And I wish my husband could do his shopping in that amount of time. He's the worst. I just do it out for the sake of knowing it'll be done!

Unknown said...

I have definitely done the Xmas eve shopping spree. Several times.

Robin said...

Breaking the rules should be done with extreme care. Mostly I think you need to KNOW the rules before you break them.

Congrats to Carrie-Anne!

Unknown said...

While I have never shopped on Xmas Eve I have worked it plenty of times because of a career in retail. I have witnessed those men completing all their shopping that evening and most of them were incredibly happy and not stressed out. Funny how that works. :)

Sophie Duncan said...

My betas are gold when it comes to telling me when I've pushed the rule breaking too far :)
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

Nate Wilson said...

In writing, there are exceptions to every "rule." Well, every rule except one: Keep your reader interested. If you break that one, you're toast. (Not literally. Unless you were toast to begin with, in which case I don't understand how you're reading this.)

And of course I can buy last-minute Xmas gifts for 25 relatives in 25 minutes. In fact, I can tell you exactly how to do it yourself with a single word: Amazongiftcards. I don't go that route, though, because it lacks thoughtfulness. And because I'm Jewish.

Carrie-Anne said...

Thanks for featuring me today!

It's so hard to know who's going to be okay with what exceptions. It seems like every agent, editor, publisher, and reader wants something different. A lot of traditionally published books I've seen break a lot of supposed rules, like introducing 20-30 minor characters in the first 30 pages and then never featuring them again, or having a narrator who constantly horns in to give away the ending and pivotal plot developments.

randi lee said...

Hi Tara! Here to check out your X entry and to also thank you so much for your kind comments on my blog :-) you really made my day!

Great big congratulations to Carrie-Ann!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Good luck to Carrie Anne and you're so right about men and Christmas shopping.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats Carrie-Ann! Someone else with multiple pen names. Go with your gut and do your best. Xandy looks too cute.

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