Remember reading articles in Time magazine that were longer than a paragraph and sometimes even two pages? In the age of perms, Pac Man, and library cards? Dinosaur times before technology morphed into our everyday lives? These days, I don’t know a single friend’s phone number (speed dial), my pile of books is now a queue in my Sony reader, and I BLOG. (Not to mention precious minutes spent trying to comb over the thin section of hair – from those bad perms!)
Times have changed in writing as well as the attention span of readers of books (myself included) competes with Facebook, Twitter, e:mails, and blogs, among other things.
A catchy hook snags the reader’s attention and leaves them wanting more. Few people will read an ENTIRE page, let alone a couple of paragraphs – unless you’ve captured their attention.
I think of those two page Time magazine articles, of days gone by, and wonder how I had the time to sit and . . . read!
With this in mind, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite authors from all genres of writing. Surprise! The catchy hooks of these great books still draw me in.
Don’t you agree?
He awoke, opened his eyes. The room meant very little to him; he was too deeply immersed in the non-being from which he had just come. – “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. ” 100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
*Nuns go by as quiet as lust, and drunken men and sober eyes sing in the lobby of the Greek hotel. “The Bluest Eyes” by Toni Morrison
*This is the third ‘beginning’ – you’ll have to read the entire first chapter to understand how brilliant this author is!)
Happy reading (and writing)!
Springtime means gardening. My green thumb twitches in delight, just waiting to dig into my small plot of earth where, if I’m lucky, a few sweet tomatoes and cucumbers grow.
While researching a setting for my novel – in a garden – I was reminded of a trip long ago to France’s Loire Valley and to the formal courtly gardens of the Renaissance period.
As I tinker in the soil, my heroine Colette will be strolling in her upper and lower gardens, symmetrically designed and bordered by box hedging with miles of pathways, passing by colorful flowers, vegetables, water-features, and perhaps even an arbor, stone archway, or cottage.
Exactly like the beautiful gardens at the Chateau de Villandry.
A few images flicker within my mind about the possibilities of invisibility for a day; checking in on my ex to see how he’s faring (or not), lurking over the shoulder of a woman selecting the winning lottery numbers – of course, nudging her elbow so the balls drop and have to be redrawn, with my winning numbers. But today, I’m wearing my writer’s bonnet so my wish for a day of invisibility involves time travel.
I’d love to walk in two muses heels for a day in Paris, my morning on July 13, 1744 and my afternoon/evening on July 13, 1793.
The first person I’d shadow is Emilie du Châtelet. Scientists during the age of enlightenment, especially a beautiful, vivacious one, were equivalent to the rock stars of our time – and just as famous.
Mme.Châtelet was an inquisitive and demanding scholar of mathematics and science. She became famous for translating Newton’s book on the principals of mathematics into French, adding her own “Algebraic Commentary”.
One research site (credited below) summarizes her perfectly:
“Mme du Châtelet passed the greater part of the morning with her writings, and did not like to be disturbed. When she stopped work, however, she did not seem to be the same woman. The serious air gave place to gaiety and she gave herself up with the greatest enthusiasm to the delights of the society”. (Source:http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/chatelet.htm)
She was also Voltaire’s lover.
The second part of my day would be spent with Charlotte Corday. Raised in a convent in Caen, she singlehandedly killed one of the most violent revolutionaries, Marat, with a knife in his bathtub. She is quoted as saying “I killed one man to save 100,000.” What a woman!
Environs of Paris, France
“Mon amour,” Mademoiselle Colette Marceau whispered beseechingly, “please don’t make me wait any longer. Show yourself.” She huffed, faint clouds of breath pirouetting in the silent frigid air like the buoyant trim of a young ballerina’s tutu. The sprawling Marceau estate boasted of twelve grand fireplaces, thirteen if one counted the kitchen, yet the cinders in the room’s hearth had grown cold – unattended and unobserved by Colette. Fire, of a different sort, was on her mind.
And so my story “To Trust Temptation” begins.
I’ve had a fascination with all things French for a long time. But who can blame me? My earliest memories are of relatives, friends, strangers singing (in their French/New Jersey accents) “Michele, ma belle…” I suppose there are worst words to be called than “belle”, worst songs with names…like Lola.
Naturally, the setting of my WIP is Paris, France during the beginning of the Reign of Terror. A terribly complex and chaotic period when men like Robespierre, Marat, and Danton vied for power; ironically, they imprisoned and executed King Louis XVI for nepotism and absolute rule (which in my humble opinion, the aspired to achieve to a certain degree).
Jacques-Louis David is one of my favorite artists. I had a chance to view an extensive exhibit in Paris years ago and to my joy, “The Death of Marat” was included. An interesting (and horrible) person. A doctor, a “scientist”, and the newspaperman responsible for printing the names of accused nobles to be sent to Mlle. Guillotine, Marat had an incurable skin disease so much of his time was spent in a bathtub.
A few years prior to the revolution, Marat was rejected by the Academy of Sciences; the study he chose to present for admission was on mesmerism (yes, similar to hypnosis). He was scoffed at and spurned.
Great fodder for a novel!
“To Trust Temptation” is an historical suspense with an espionage twist. Colette Marceau is a well-respected scientist passionate about one thing; sulfur. Ryan is a British spy on a hopeless mission to end the revolution or at least, to stop it from spreading ideas to England. Dressed as a sans-culotte and using the name Justin Corbel, he is thoroughly ensconced within his role as revolutionary. And then there is Marat and his skin ailment. A scientist, a spy/revolutionary, and the man responsible for thousands of deaths.
Can you imagine the possibilities? Does my muse…amuse? I hope so!
“To Trust Temptation” is the second in a series called “The Passionate Provocateurs”.