Snippet Sunday is a monthly meme organized by Stephanie Dray in which historical authors post six sentence snippets of their novels. For the sake of organization, I’ve decided to post mine on the first Sunday of the month. You can read my previous snippets here.
June’s snippet is from the Next Novel, which is moving along nicely. (This recent post offers more details about it.) Like THE LILY MAID, it’s set in Victorian England. This excerpt introduces my antagonist, Isabelle:
Instead of answering him, Isabelle rose from her nook before the fire and began to pace, granting Robert another opportunity to examine the state of her brown wool gown. He took everything in methodically, as he’d been trained to: how her shoulder seams strained against her bones, the uneven hem revealing the toes of her worn leather boots. When she’d poured port into the glass for him, he’d noted that the curve of her wrist jutted below her lace cuffs; she’d seemed unexpectedly fragile despite her blunt manner. Isabelle also appeared younger than he’d first judged—closer to thirty years of age than forty. Robert decided it was the severity of her hair that aged her. Instead of gracefully looping her dark hair in waves about her ears, as a more fashion-conscious lady might have, she’d pulled it into a painfully tight knot.
Photographed in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. I love the way the roof tiles ripple beneath the blue sky.
Yes, this is really what Salt Cay looks like.
Remember last October? When I went to the Salt Cay Writers Retreat in the Bahamas and workshopped my novel with Robert Goolrick, Amy Einhorn, and other amazing publishing peeps, and swam with dolphins? Where I made friends that will last a lifetime, and had my writing transformed? I’ve good news: the Salt Cay Writer’s Retreat is now offering a scholarship sweepstakes.
Entering is uber-easy: Simply sign up for the SCWR mailing list on their website and refer your friends for a chance to win. One winner chosen at random will receive a full scholarship to attend the retreat ($3000 value, not including airfare and hotel). Twenty others will receive a $500 discount.
For more information and the fine print, visit here.
In parting, here’s some snippets of wisdom I took home from the Retreat:
Agent Jeff Klein (Folio Literary) on marketing a book: “A book for everyone is a book for no one.”
Author Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) on what is literary fiction: “It’s a bogus term. A book is either a good book or a bad book.”
Editor Chuck Adams (Algonquin Books) on the ideal reader: “Once you know the story you’re going to write, you need to imagine the reader you’re going to write it for.”
Agent Michelle Brower (Folio Literary) on point of view in a novel: “The choice you make brings you closer or further from character. Point of view is a tool for suspense and tension.”
Editor Amy Einhorn (Flatiron Books) on novel endings: “You don’t want the ending to be exactly where it appears to be going, where the reader can figure it out. A SIMPLE PLAN has a great ending, where we have no idea where the author is taking us.”
A favorite Sarah Waters* quote:
“Novels are for readers, and writing them means the crafty, patient, selfless construction of effects. I think of my novels as being something like fairground rides: my job is to strap the reader into their car at the start of chapter one, then trundle and whizz them through scenes and surprises, on a carefully planned route, and at a finely engineered pace.”
This advice seems expecially important to remember as I continue to outline, outline, and outline the Next Novel: I’m carefully planning my route. Oh, and here’s a photograph of my just-about-completed novel bible, whose process I described in a recent post.
*Semi-related to above: I can’t wait to read Waters’ soon-to-be-published novel THE PAYING GUESTS! She is a literary goddess.
Recently photographed: the reflecting pond (well, more like a puddle) I built in my backyard. Because every writer should have a pond of her own.