Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Intro Fiona!

I do hope this is not utterly awful; I just cobbled it together not five minutes ago. I haven't been able to write for a week now (yay, projects...) and although my dad's suggestion to write a letter to myself explaining why I had no letter for today was quite entertainingly hilarious, I wanted to actually WRITE something before homework consumed me again and my brain exploded.

So, here you go. The first letter written by Emily's best friend, Fiona:



Friday, March 26, 2010

A (possibly incoherent) Discussion of References

Disclaimer: For some reason utterly unknown to me, I have been unable to get adequate sleep for what feels like three weeks straight (yes, this includes spring break. No, I do not comprehend why I'm MORE tired AFTER spring break than before). So if this post makes absolutely no sense, I do apologize.


Hello, blogsphere! How goes it? Things are going well in college-land (aside from the sleep deprivation and piling on of projects thing). Letters to Oliver is going really quite well! And I've sent A Bridge to War off to another beta, because Karla is a lovely person and offered to help. If all goes well and the universe decides to work in my favor for once, I'll have that finished by the middle of April.

Anyway, whenever I put up a snippet from Letters to Oliver, I get all these lovely comments about the historical voice. And so I think I'd like to talk a little bit about my favorite references, because they're cool and if you like my ramblings, you might like these too.

First off, for some unconventional ones. I think the biggest help for the voice in Letters to Oliver is the 1995 five-hour BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. I have seen this thing so many times that I have parts of it memorized. I can't read P&P anymore without hearing Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in my head. And even though Pride and Prejudice is set about sixty or seventy years sooner than Letters to Oliver, the style of speech is still very similar and it's quite a useful model.

(The fact that my entire junior-year English class decided I was reincarnated from a Victorian lady has nothing to do with my ability to write that book. ;P)

Another one is probably one I shouldn't tell you to use, but there it is. I use Wikipedia probably more often than I should. I can't really help myself though - it's just so extremely convenient for quick information! I would advise, if you do want to use Wikipedia, to take a look at the links provided at the bottom of the page too. Those usually can't be tampered with.

Other than that, I have several book sources that I use. My favorite is one by Daniel Pool, called What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. That book is amazing. It's very informative, and a rather engaging read too, and if you like Victorian literature, there's lots of examples from Dickens and the Brontes and Austen scattered throughout. I also got a copy of Kristine Hughes' Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England for Christmas from a friend of mine; this one is also very useful.

Researching A Bridge to War is much trickier, though. If you're researching 18th century France, it's easy to find stuff on Versailles and the French Revolution and bread riots in Paris and such. But my characters weren't involved in any of that. The story takes place almost 20 years before the French Revolution began, and the characters live in the middle of the country (or, in Avar's case, the middle of the woods, but that's not what I'm talking about). It's also a weird alternate history kind of thing, so while the facts might not all be right, I'm trying to keep the atmosphere as close to reality as I can. So after searching for forever, I found a book by Daniel Roche (an actual French guy; he teaches at the University of Paris) called A History of Everyday Things. It's dry as dust, but monumentally informative.

There is also a most excellent book called To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker. It's fiction, but it's set (well, part of it is, anyway) during the time period I want, and the beginning involves people who aren't part of the aristocracy, so it's a good model for prose and dialogue which I intend to make very good use of.

So if any of you are interested in writing a historical, I'd advise you to take a look at those books. And watch the BBC Pride and Prejudice - Colin Firth makes one heck of a Mr. Darcy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: A letter to Oliver

Hello, guys! I'm back at school, but I am determined to keep up the pace of writing this. So far, it has been very easy to just churn it out (and I certainly hope I haven't jinxed myself by saying this) and I really want to keep that up.

That being said, here is part of the first letter actually TO Oliver. Those AWers who were Friday Night Writing with me the other night will recognize the beginning - but there's more, don't worry. :)



Thursday, March 18, 2010


Time is a tricky thing to define, if you really think about it. Many people ponder over it, from H. G. Wells and his Time Machine to every child in the world wondering why the seconds take so long on the last day of school. Personally, I think Mr. Tennant describes it best:

(Then again, I am always inclined to agree with Mr. Tennant, so.)

Perhaps a more serious approach?

"From the moment we enter this life, we are in the flow of it. We measure it and we mark it, but we cannot defy it. We cannot even speed it up or slow it down. Or can we ? Have we not each experienced the sensation… that a beautiful moment seemed to pass too quickly… and wished that we could make it linger ? Or felt time slow on a dull day… and wished that we could speed things up a bit ?"

That quote is from The Illusionist, one of my favorite movies, and one which I will be watching rather a lot as I research and write Letters to Oliver. (The Prestige will be watched many times as well.)

It is also exactly where I find myself at present. Why is it, whenever you feel yourself to be in a good place, a place in time where you are utterly content, that you can see all too clearly the end of that time speeding towards you like a rocket? Why must the sunny days of spring break, with unseasonably warm weather, gatherings with friends, and simply being home with my family speed past with the velocity of a freight train whilst midterms week, which was of approximately the same duration, seemed to last a lifetime? What is it about the human mind that makes time seem so much in flux? A second is always a second is always a second; it never changes, and yet it always feels like it does.

Even in retrospect, things seem to take different speeds. Have you ever slogged through a week, dragging your feet heavily every step of the way, only to find yourself arrived at Friday evening and look back in wonderment at how you got there? Or on a particularly good week, arrive at Thursday night, wondering how you managed to get there so darned quickly and dreading the end of the weekend which is steadily creeping up on you?

Why are there not more than twenty-four hours in a day? Or, why are there not more days in spring break? There is too much to do - too many friends to see, too many books to read, too much to write, too much simply sitting around with your family to do - to fit into one tiny little week.

I find this most distressing.

However, if the human mind is capable of such small feats of time travel as this (making things seem to speed up or slow down, however involuntarily), perhaps real time travel is possible after all. Let the search for the TARDIS commence!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Emily again!

And Teaser Tuesday is back with a vengeance!

Also, the beginning and end of this particular letter are so not channeling my own exam stress; why would you say that?



Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm back!

Hey, all! Exams are OVER, I am FREE, and I am going home TOMORROW. I am terribly excited.

Now, since I haven't posted anything in at least a week and a half, I give you Caitlin's Random Exam Tidbits.

1. Black tea + soymilk = interesting. Chai tea + soymilk > black tea + soymilk. Black tea + small amount of soymilk = quite tolerable, actually.

2. When I'm tired and feeling a bit incoherent and don't feel like thinking in full sentences, I tend to put things into mathematical equation format. Which makes NO sense, thinking of how much I absolutely despise math with every fiber of my being.

3. Midterms week is not a good time to keep track of your diet and attempt to figure out whether or not you're getting enough nutrients.

4. Dining hall workers are actually terribly nice, and quite helpful. Did you know that we get peppers from Israel?

5. In order to do my biology project, I had to attempt to track where my food came from (hence the Israeli peppers comment). My findings: the Nature Valley and Kashi websites were dreadfully unhelpful, but the Yorkshire and Tazo websites were so helpful it's insane. This, I think, says something about the nature of tea.

6. I already knew this, but it never ceases to astound me that I can get the most utterly random songs stuck in my head and they just refuse to leave. This week's repeated playlist mostly involved the BBC Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and, randomly, As Long As You're Mine from Wicked. Noooo idea where that one came from.

7. Whenever you say "as soon as exams are over, I'm going to sit outside in this glorious sunshine and just read a book," you are condemning the day that exams are over to be overcast, windy, and threatening rain.

8. Watching two feet of snow disappear during a week of 40-50 degree weather is quite fun. Walking in it? Not so much.

9. The Early Christian period in art history was from the 3rd to the 5th centuries AD. The Romanesque period was not until the 11th-12th centuries. So... what happened in between?

10. Best way to win Italian Pictionary - drawing bunny slippers.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I apologize for not posting anything since last Teaser Tuesday... and I doubt that I'll be posting a teaser tomorrow. My excuse for not posting before now is that from Wednesday morning till Saturday afternoon, there was no internet in my dorm. Cue one very unhappy Caitlin. And my excuse for not posting tomorrow (or the rest of this week, probably) is that looming thing called midterms week hanging over my head at present. I only have one actual midterm exam, but I have projects galore.

Speaking of which, I should go do them.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Aw the Cute

Since A Bridge to War is currently sitting about waiting for me to poke it with a (historical) stick (with the help of lovely betas, the ever awesome Jaece having been added to that fantastic group!) and since A Tangled Web is currently on temporary hiatus - at least until a) I figure out what I need to do to the dialogue in order to fix it and/or b) my characters attack me and force me to write it whether I like it or not - I suspect most of my teasers in the coming weeks will be from Letters to Oliver, because that WiP is shiny and new and hasn't got any problems yet. :)

So, without further ado, I give you Emily!