The Next Big Thing – Birthmark

Firstly, I’d like to thank Victoria Corby for tagging me on The Next Big Thing.  She’s in the throes of writing French Twist, which sounds like my kind of story.  Check it out http://victoriacorby.wordpress.com.  I would say I’m a novice literary writer with a capital N.  I actually sat down last November to partake in the thing that I’ve said I wanted to do for some time now – writing a book.  NaNoWriMo, along with some pretty cool, experienced buddies, put me on the straight and narrow of starting to write my first book.  I was nervous and wasn’t sure I was doing things correctly, as if there is a correct way to write a book.  What NaNoWriMo did teach me was to be consistent about the quantity that I wrote each day, to persevere even when the story didn’t seem to be turning out exactly as planned, and above all to enjoy myself.

What is the working title of your next book?

The title of my book is called Birthmark.  In the beginning, I had put another title but quickly realised that my story had taken a slight turn, but for the better.  So this title works a lot better.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, I’ve always had a vague idea of writing a book which would take place in my hometown New Orleans.  New Orleans is a place with tremendous character, loads of culture, scrumptious food, and beautiful architecture.  I think any avid reader would enjoy reading a book which entails all of that.

What genre does your book fall under?

I guess my book would fall into the genre of contemporary fiction.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m not so sure about that just yet.  I don’t think I’ve captured the physique nor the complete personalities of my characters enough to answer that question.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Birthmark is a story which follows the ups and downs of an African-American family from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Sorry, I can’t say more than that.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Ultimately, I’d like my book to be published by an agency.  Personally, I have a problem with a lot of self-published books.  They often need a bit of editing and there’s nothing that annoys me more than reading through mistakes, poorly written passages, or scenarios that just aren’t plausible.  I want my book to be edited by professionals and of course given a beautiful cover.  I want my book to look just as good on the outside as it is in the inside.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wouldn’t say my NaNoWriMo writing experience gave me a solid first draft.  It did give me an excellent corps 52,650 words in which I can mould into a real first draft hopefully this year.  I wrote it in three weeks which was amazing to me.  I was sure I’d have trouble getting to 50,000 words, but in the end I could have written a lot more.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t actually think of any exact titles at the moment but it would be very similar to a family saga story but with a lot of upheaval, character growth, and a few other twists and turns.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I inspired myself to write this book.  I was tired of hearing myself constantly saying, “I should write a book.” or “I should put that in a book.”  I saw some booktubers on You Tube talking about gearing up for NaNoWriMo and something inside of me said go for it.  You’ve got loads of time on your hands and you have nothing to lose.  The weekend before November 1st I spent trying to figure out what exactly I was going to write about.  My husband helped by asking me questions which then led to me choosing character names and places I wanted to use in New Orleans.  I must admit he gave me that extra swift kick I needed to get started.  I jotted down some notes in an outline form so that I could somewhat get my story off to a good start and voilà.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well there are two story lines going on between two generations.  There’s some intrigue, confrontations, New Orleans culture, etc.  That’s all I can tell you for now.  I don’t want to ruin it for you.

To continue on The Next Big Thing tag, here are two other budding writers that I’d like to tag.

Carole Hill from Piglet in Portugal, http://pigletinportugal.com where she writes about living in Portugal.  She also writes about the challenges of living abroad and about her many hobbies (cooking, photography, etc.).  She too is a NaNoWriMo winner and on a mission to write a book and to get published.

Kimba Azore who writes the blog Fleur de Curl, http://fleurdecurl.com and is from my home state Louisiana.  Her blog details everything you want to know about natural hair, beauty, and fashion.  She even has a rubric featuring what she’s reading and writing.  What a poet she is!

Hope you enjoyed this post and will check out Piglet in Portugal and Fleur de Curl to read about their writing exploits.  I’d love to hear about what you think about self published books as opposed to professionally published ones below.

I read, You read, We all read for……

People are always asking me what my book club is reading and how we’ve managed to last so long.  I put it down to mutual respect and sharing the same passion – reading, not to mention loving talking about books.  It doesn’t matter whether they are intriguing, not so interesting, classics, historical, etc..  The main goal is to enjoy discussing books.

We are quite a large group now about fifteen and we are some very passionate, opinionated women when we discuss books.  Things wouldn’t be so interesting if that wasn’t the case.  Really I wouldn’t have it any other way.  We started with eight members and as the years have gone on more people have joined and some have left.  There are about five of us left from the original group.

The principal strengths of this reading group are that we are all different ages, nationalities (British, American, and French) and interests.  That leaves a lot of room for discussion.  How do things work?  We choose our reading list towards the end of the school year in June.  So we read seven books each year.  Each member comes to the second to last meeting with two suggestions.  I compile a list and yes at the moment it’s colossal.  I send each member the complete list and that gives them time to research and decide what titles they want to vote for at our last meeting.  The last meeting, we discuss our last book, vote for next year’s list, and try to decide which book we will start with in October.  The thickest novel usually gets put up as choice #1 for October.  This process allows everyone to acquire their books over summer in the UK or USA or maybe even arrange to borrow them from friends.  In the future we may have to limit how many suggestions we put in because the list is starting to get just a little too long.  So that’s it!  Everything is organized, democratically voted on, and most of all a moment we all look forward to.  Here are the choices for 2011-2012:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time we meet, April  14th, it will be to discuss The White Tiger.  It was the 2008 Booker Prize winner.  That always makes some members nervous.  I’m assuming it’s going to be a challenge but that’s fine.  I’m up for it!  We’ve already read The Help, Sarah’s Key, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and The Slap. I’ve done posts on The Slap, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and The Help.  Check them out if you want to know what I thought.  Sarah’s Key – 2 stars  The first half was extremely interesting and very moving but the second half was boring, stereotypical, and badly written. It’s really a shame because she did such a good job on the first half of the story.  The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim – 4 stars the beginning of this book depressed me to no end, but by the time I reached the middle of the book I started to find it more interesting and even more so after the book club discussion.  It was a little disappointing that he didn’t explore more closely certain episodes but all in all it was a good read.  It is Jonathan Coe after all.

As for the rest of the books that we’ve read since 2005, here’s a long list and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.  The list is extensive but they are all interesting and engaging in their own words.  I’ll put a few of my favorites in bold.  Who knows maybe you’ll find something you’d like to read, reread, or that you just plain forgot about.

Suite Française – Irène Némirovsky

Wash the Blood Clean From My Hands – Fred Vargas

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown – Couldn’t finish this book.  It was like a history text-book. Argh!!! It was like a giant sleeping pill to me, but it is one of the most exhaustive narratives recounting Native American life.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Water For Elephants – Sara Guen

Blue Angel – Francine Prose

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Midnight’s Children – Salmon Rushdie – Couldn’t finish this book.  I couldn’t figure out who was who.  He kept changing the characters’ names. A little too pompous for my taste!

The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak

The Memory Keepers Daughter – KIm Edwards

Skinny Legs and All – Tom Robbins

The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

The Darling – Russel Banks

How to Be Good – Nick Hornby

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

An Equal Music – Vikram Seth

The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot

Saturday – Ian McEwan

Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck

I am Charlotte Simmons – Tom Wolfe

Lignes de Failles – Nancy Huston

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

What I Loved – Sylvie Hustvedt

A History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka

The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields

The Other Boleyn Girl – Philipa Gregory

The Alchemist – Paulo Coello

The Lady and the Unicorn – Tracey Chevalier

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffennegger

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

Brick Lane – Monica Ali

On Beauty – Zadie Smith

My Life in France – Julia Child

The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer/Annie Barrows

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson

The Virgin Blue – Tracey Chevalier

The Ginger Tree – Oswald Wynd

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

The Comedians – Graham Green