Victoria A. Jeffrey's authorly doings. . .

Monday, October 22, 2012

Story Progress

This process of putting early drafts of my novel on my blog, while not new for me is definitely a learning experience. Now that I am in editing phase, going back I always find things that need improvement, what needs changing and what needs to be cut or added in.

It's one of the good things about having an outline and lots of notes. It's a bit scary throwing your work out there when it is unfinished and rough but it is good to put the work out there. Scenes have changed, names have changed, new characters have inserted themselves, new subplots have hatched. The first few chapters are already different from what I originally posted here on the blog.

Then there's tightening up the plot and the prose. I like how the story has unfolded. What I will be looking for next is a new illustrator for the book cover. In fact, I'm on the look out right now and I have a few artists in mind. We'll see who is interested.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First Draft Finished

I have finished the first draft. So happy. It's been a few years since I've actually written a full length novel so I was wondering how things would work out as far as work flow. It would seem that it take me about a month and a half to write an 80,000 word novel.

There's still a lot of work to do and I still have to plow through a few more books but I've been on vacation all this past week and so I've had the chance to concentrate completely on my work and I've gotten a tremendous amount done. It's raining outside, my kind of weather, fall has truly descended in western Oregon and I've gone through the first gauntlet. I  remember last year this time I think that I was working on The Pumpkin Princess.

I think it's time for a good drink. I'm off to the store and having a nice break before it's back to work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Hollow Crown

I have managed to find the full series of the marvelous, BBC produced The Hollow Crown. This is a four part series of Shakespeare's histories. A little background here: I was first introduced to Shakespeare in middle school. I saw Zefirelli's The Taming of the Shrew. They showed it at school, I kid you not! I also saw his version of Romeo and Juliet at home and these were instrumental  in creating a love in me for the Bard.

To me, Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the western world and if you can incorporate what you learn from his stories into your own work as an author you will add depth to your own work. Besides the Bible, Russian classics and Tolkien, I look to Shakespeare for inspiration.

Shakespeare's histories have some of the greatest passages in the English language, my favorite play being Henry V. Kenneth Branagh's version made me a fan of both Shakespeare on film and Branagh (and through him also his then-wife, Emma Thompson) for life. It was and still is one of the very best films ever made, in my opinion.

So, we come to another version of Henry V and also this is my first time seeing Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two. With a stellar cast, most of them I am familiar with from seeing them in other films and shows, I knew it would be an excellent production. I wasn't wrong. You can catch the entire series of filmed plays on YouTube and I would encourage everyone to watch them. Especially as an author the way Shakespeare uses language is mesmerizing and very educational. The language and turns of phrase are beautiful without being florid and his insight into the human mind and the human condition transcends time. If you are willing to listen and get past the "thous" and the "thees" (I rather like that kind of stuff) there is a wealth of information about how to construct a great story. On my own, I must admit, Shakespeare is difficult to understand but with the help of directors, producers and actors who know and thoroughly understand Shakespeare you can glean a lot of valuable information about the stories he wrote. Many of them are based solidly in history or grand myths. Even if you are not a writer, just for emotional and intellectual enjoyment you should watch this series. It is one of the very best things on television this year - thanks to Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this year. I don't know that it is directly related but culturally I do think it is related to the celebration of her reign in Britain. For extra insight about these particular historical plays check out the documentary narrated by Jeremy Irons. The series starts with Richard II, then goes to the reign of Henry IV, Richard's cousin and ends with the son, Henry V.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I’ve had a number of pretty interesting names picked out for the main characters in the books but as I’ve been re-reading The Lord of the Rings and other Tolkien related blogs it struck me that the names I’ve chosen for the secondary characters and for cities and towns have not much rhyme or reason. When you read the names of dwarves in The Hobbit and LOTR, they are very much rooted in a clan/family name. This is also true of the names of real people. They aren’t as random as they seem and this was especially so in ancient societies that revere traditions and the institution of the family.
This has me rethinking how I choose to name characters in these books. There is also culture to consider when naming characters. Is it a patriarchy? A matriarchy? Are people named by the tribe or community? The family? Is it a name that is passed down from parent to child through the centuries and how many Williams, Richards or Saladins will be named in any one family? (I’m not using any of these names, they are simply examples.)
Some groups even have naming ceremonies so no little attention is paid to a person’s name. It is also said that in the world of Faerie one’s name is of utmost importance and can impart power to the person that knows the name of a faerie creature. Think Rumpelstiltskin as one example. Even in the Bible names are very important. Angels of God who came down to earth to give messages to humans often refused to give their names in order to prevent humans from giving them worship that belonged to God alone. We know of two, Michael and Gabriel, but there are other unnamed angels mentioned in the Bible and it makes them seem mysterious. One is curious about what their names are. Such is the importance and the mystique of a name.

Names often have a specific meaning. They take on importance beyond the internal. Not only can they influence how a person feels about himself but they may influence how he behaves or what he accomplishes. When my mother was expecting me my parents thought I was going to be a boy so my name was picked out – I was to have the same name as my father. basically a Jr. When I was born, well, I turned out to be a girl! So, they chose the feminine forms for those same names. Both names are strong and conjure up ideas of victory and strength. I must say, I haven’t exactly lived up to those names in any traditional sense. :(  But I have conquered and came out victorious in personal struggles and issues in my life that caused much internal strife. A name is an identity and a root that describes where you came from and from whom you descended and it is a symbol of who you are or what you can become. Much consideration should be given to names, even when you’re just making them up out of thin air! :)