The Tycoons of the Past

I will now have the opportunity to express to you my family's neurotic delight in cemeteries.  The past three days have been absolutely fabulous for weather.  Clear skies, temperatures in the sixties - Saturday was perfectly balmy so Tim and I took the bus into town, hopped off at Castle Street, and wandered into the grounds of Glasgow Cathedral.

The leaves are turning here.  I will get a little autumn, after all!

The cathedral grounds are covered with old grave slabs; you can hardly take a step without tripping over a tussock of that thick, lush British grass or treading on someone's grave.  Some slabs are so old that they look like natural rock and you have to take it on faith that there was once writing on them.

At the foot of the cathedral grounds we looked up and discovered the Necropolis nearly on top of us.  You see it in pictures, but nothing prepares you for the grandeur of the real thing.  We backtracked to the entrance and went up, wending our way through some fabulous weather and the gravestones of the movers and shakers of Victorian Glasgow.

I wish I could have pictures of all the fantastic names of these people.  After awhile one began to notice cross-overs: sons and daughters from various tycoon families married into others.  These were serious folk!  Some inscriptions said things like JAMES BUCHANAN - MERCHANT - GLASGOW // CALCUTTA.  It's rather sad that what is left of Glasgow's golden days is the Necropolis, but I will say these families took steps to make sure their legacy lived on in rather impressive stonework.  

How does that sound, Dad?

Of Shaws?

My great delight in cemeteries is, in part, because they are so peaceful.  It felt like Sunday to walk through these terraces - crisp, cool air, surrounded by the bodies of the dead waiting (for good or ill) the coming of the Lord.  Everywhere I looked inscriptions of the hopeful passages of Scripture proclaiming that the dead in Christ will rise met my eye. 

"Could you spend hours here?"
"I don't know about hours.  There's time enough for that later."

The typical tourist pose.

WHY.  WHY is it unsafe!  You can't just leave something like that in a place like this ambiguous!

Wait for it...  Now you got it.

Ethandune Read-Aloud

I was asked some snippet sections ago to make an audio recording of a read-aloud for one of my works in progress.  It has taken me so long to get around to this because I was getting ready to come to Glasgow, I was having trouble deciding on a good section to read aloud, and I am extremely shy of my voice.  However, I have finally done it.
From Ethandune.

I just avoided recording this with an illness.  I am not sure what it is I am fighting.  It feels like the sickly bantling child of an ill-moral'd cold: the Mordred of influenzas.  It does not seem to be amounting to much at present, but it has sufficed to make me sluggish and surly and has effectively slowed Ethandune's progress for today.
I fear I will live, but not for long, to regret that allusion to medieval literature.

A Writer in Glasgow

Some of you get email updates on my life here in Glasgow, and are pretty well caught up on what I'm doing.  The rest of you probably don't care about college lectures and bus schedules.  I don't think many people do, but the funny thing is, they still ask.  People here ask me where I'm from and what I'm doing.  We always start in by explaining that my husband transferred for the semester from his college in the States, we talk about what he is studying, etc.  And then they turn to me.  "What are you taking?"  "I'm not in college," I reply, always with that slight twinge in my soul, hoping that they don't judge me - I look like a fresher, and most people go to college: I don't, and I'm content with that, but no one likes being judged.  I rush on: "I'm a writer, so my work is very portable.  I can take it anywhere!"  With the exception of the hairdresser on Bath Street, no one paid much mind to that.  I'm not sure which level of attention I appreciated more.

I say it is very portable.  It is less like a job I carry around the world and more like a kidnapper which springs me unawares and carts me off.  Those of you who get the email updates are aware that Ethandune is being a very good fellow and breezing along like a dream.  It helps that my husband is reading it as I go, which gives me incentive to write the next section.  It came up so suddenly, I wonder if anyone takes it very seriously: I'm reluctant to spill all the beans, so I can only tell you that you should take it seriously, because this particular idea packs a splendidly large punch.  That, too, makes me giddy while I work on it.  Between my husband's enjoyment of it, my own enjoyment of it, and the fact that my favourite place to write is at the kitchen table where there is no internet to distract me, Ethandune's manuscript is growing at a steady rate.  At some 39,000 words, I am rapidly nearing the size of an ordinary novel (not one of my monsters).
"It generally takes you an ordinary-sized novel to write your introduction."
tim freitag
For those of you who have asked for an audio recording of snippets, I am planning on trying that out this afternoon and then tinkering with it over the next day or so.  I make no guarantees (which means I am putting back my ears about the whole affair out of severe shyness) but I'll do my best.  Of course I appreciate your position: who wouldn't want to hear an author read her story aloud?  I know I would!
"If you want someone to do a nice deep baritone for your male characters, you'll have to find someone other than me."
tim freitag

Purple Moon: A New Young Adult Release

purple moon by tessa emily hall
24 september, 2013
lighthouse publishing of the carolinas
You may or may not remember that years ago Abigail and I were interviewed on Christ is Write by Tessa Emily Hall just after the publication of our books The Shadow Things and The Soldier's Cross.  (There's a trip down memory-lane, oh my.)  I am now happy to return the favour!
for the reader (and the writer)
back cover 
Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid. That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?

for the writer (and the reader)
question & answer
What inspired you to write “Purple Moon”?
I wanted to write a character-driven story about a teenager who has fallen way from the relationship she once had with God after her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. In the story, Selena is forced to leave her apartment in NY and stay with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab. It was initially inspired by the song “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North, as well as the skit that many churches have performed to the song “Everything” by Lifehouse.

In what ways can you relate to your protagonist, Selena?
Even though Selena has a completely different past and family situation, I did incorporate a little bit of “me” in her. For example: she’s passionate, a dreamer, an artist, somewhat of an introvert, has the same style as I do, a romantic, and loves coffee a little too much. I've also given her some of my flaws. However, when I wrote “Purple Moon”, I mainly tried crafting Selena in a way that I hoped many teenagers would be able to relate with—whether they share the same backstory as she does, possess many of the same qualities, or are experiencing some of the same struggles that Selena deals with in “Purple Moon”.

When did you start writing Purple Moon, and how long did it take?
I started writing the first version of “Purple Moon” when I was fifteen. When I was sixteen, I completed the first draft and landed a publishing contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It’s difficult to pinpoint how long it took to complete “Purple Moon”—the more I learned about the writing craft, the more I continued wanting to go back and rewrite the story or add a few changes. However, I have finally reached a point where I am happy with the story and can’t wait to get it in the hands of my readers.

What are you working on now?
I just completed my second book, “Unwritten Melody”, which is going to be a stand-alone novel. As of now, I am brainstorming and beginning to write the first draft of “Fallen Leaves”, which will be the second book of the Purple Moon Series and a continuation of Selena’s journey throughout the next season of her life. I am also going on a blog tour this fall and will continue to write the teen column for Whole Magazine.

What do you hope to accomplish in your writing career?
I hope to never stop writing, whether or not that includes having my work published or seeing my name on the best seller list. I hope to never stop encouraging people—especially teenagers—to follow their dreams. But more than anything, I hope that my stories will represent the power of God’s unending love and His transforming grace. That’s my number one goal, my number one reason for wanting to pursue writing for the rest of my life.
are you new to tessa emily hall?
Tessa Emily Hall is a 19-year-old author of Purple Moon, her YA Christian fiction novel to be published September 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also the editor over the faith department for Temperance Magazine, a column writer for Whole Magazine, a contributing writer for More To Be, as well as the PR for God of Moses Entertainment. Other than writing, Tessa enjoys acting, music, Starbucks, and her Teacup Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.

Through the Eyes of a Ghost

After reading beauty's testimony by Bree, I remembered a feature of the writing life which I have been slowly coming aware of, and that is that, as writers, we tend to talk to writers about writing, confined in our writing clique, and generally fail to look at it from the reader's point of view.
The fact is, the readership doesn't really care a lot about the writer.
I know that sounds harsh, and it isn't as if they couldn't care less about us, but the truth is that they want the stories, not the authors.  Think about yourself when you pick up a book off a shelf at Barnes & Noble.  While you scan the cover and read the back synopsis, you don't think, "That is excellent composition on the cover: I can see how the design artist pulled in many of the author's highlights from the story.  And that synopsis is really well done: I wish I could compress my story into such a succinct few lines."  No, you think, "That is a totally awesome cover and I like the sound of this plot.  There go my college savings."

There is nothing wrong with discussing the former remarks, especially with other writers.  There are some readers who don't mind engaging in some of the fringe elements of our work, and when you come across those sorts of people, it's a lot of fun!  At least they don't back away from you carefully, after gingerly setting down a cup of tea as a sort of peace-offering in the hopes that you don't hurt them...  But there are a lot of readers in the world who aren't writers, and that's okay!  We need to be as sensible of their point of view as they are tender and patient with ours.

Personally, I love getting into the nitty-gritty with other authors about their work: not merely their plots, but how they go about executing the process of writing and design.  But there is a place for that, and its place isn't usually in interaction with the readership.  The readership wants to know if your book is any good, any fun, at all edifying, worth their while, worth their money.  I know that talking about my writing is one of the hardest things about my job, and a comfortable fall-back is to talk about it in my own terms.  But that isn't what people want to hear.  We talk endlessly about criticism and being ready to receive what others have to say about our writing, but it's high time we as writers took into account what the readers think, and speak their language from time to time. 

Stirling Castle & Argyll's Lodging

This past Friday (15th), Tim and I went out to Stirling to see the castle and its satellite monuments.  My Scottish history begins sketchily with James VI (First of England) and continues from there, immediately becoming English.  In short, I've only ever taken note of Scottish history when its burn intersects the river of English history.  There were, however, a few names I recognized before the ignominious Stuart line - Malcolm, David, Alexander - but it was a bare acknowledgement of names that have seeped through the thicker fabric of English history.  So Stirling Castle was full of new things for me.

The Gothic-style building in the background is the front bank of the Church of the Holy Rude.

Trying to look over the forewall of Stirling Castle.  There is grass growing all over the place!


Queen Anne's garden.  It sports one huge, gorgeous oak tree, on the left, sadly out of the frame.

Reproductions of the famous Stirling Heads.

Part of a commemorative piece done by the same fellow commissioned to reproduce the Stirling Heads.

I wanted to see if they had Man Pie and a recipe for Marshwiggles, but there were three of these huge illumined cookbooks and I didn't have time to go through them all.

The dining room of Argyll's Lodging, a building at the foot of the hill on which the castle sits.

It was a blowy, cold, mizzling day and we were both tired by the end of it, but we loved Stirling Castle, Argyll's Lodging, and the church cemetery.  Indubitably, some of this will wind up in my novels.