Friday, April 13, 2018

Keeping Your Readers in Your Historical Story



http://bookswelove.net/authors/donaldson-yarmey-joan/

As a historical writer it is important to make sure that you use the words of the period you have set your book in. For example if your story is set in the 1500s you could use the word hugger-mugger when talking about a sneaky person who is acting in a secretive way and elflocks to describe messy hair. Jargoyles meant that a person was puzzled about something in the 1600s while in the 1700s a person who was out of sorts was grumpish. In the 1800s people would have felt curglaff when they jumped into cold water and a man going for a post dinner walk while smoking his pipe was lunting. In the early 1900s a person who was drunk was referred to as being fuzzled.

Of course, it is important when using those words that the writer somehow explains what they mean such as, if a man said he was going for an after lunch lunt, the person he was talking to could reply. “I don’t have my pipe and tobacco with me today.” I feel that writers who use terminology from a different era or words or phrases from a different language without clarification are trying to impress the reader with their vocabulary and intellect. Speaking as a reader, for me what they are really doing is making me angry and interrupting the flow of the story. I am jolted out of the lives of the characters and into my life as I try to process the meaning of what was written.

As a writer you want the reader to be so caught up in the story that they don’t want to put the book down, you don’t want them to throw the book across the room because they don’t understand what has been said or done.

Another important aspect of writing historical novels or even novels set in past decades is to make sure that you do have the characters using devices that hadn’t been invented yet.

The ball point pen came into use in the 1940’s so you can’t have someone signing papers with it in the 1920s. The Charleston dance was introduced in a movie in 1923 and caught on after that, so a story set before that time could not have party-goers dancing it. While the computer was invented during World War II, it didn’t come into commercial use until the 1950/60s and personal use until the 1970/80s. Don’t have a person make a phone call before March 7, 1876, which is when Alexander Graham Bell patented his telephone and don’t have someone send a text on a mobile phone in the 1970s.

It is important to do your research when writing a novel set in the past, no matter what the year.

More historical words:

In the 1590s beef-witted described something as being brainless or stupid.

In the 1640s callipygian described a beautifully shaped butt.

In the 1650s sluberdegullion meant an unkempt, drooling person.

In the 1950s two people making out in the back seat of a car were doing the back seat bingo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

My Writing Companions


http://bwlpublishing.ca/authors/donaldson-yarmey-joan/

I first began my writing career with a short story about an injured hawk my son and I found beside the highway. We took him home to our acreage and named him Highway. We nursed him for a few days then set him free. He decided he liked us and moved into the bushes around our acreage.

       This story lead to the publication of historical and travel articles and finally seven travel books. To research these books over the years I travelled and camped throughout British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon and Alaska. My travelling companion was a cockapoo dog named Chevy. He inspected attractions with me, hikes trails with me, and waited patiently in my vehicle when I had to go into a building. We would be on the road for a month or more at a time taking pictures, learning history, and meeting people.

       At the end of each trip I’d be glad to get home and begin to unload my vehicle. Chevy would jump out and check the house and yard. I thought he was happy to be home also until I would go into my vehicle and find him lying in his place on the seat. I’d tell him we were home to stay and put him on the ground. I’d gather up more stuff to carry into the house and when I came out for my next load he was once again on the seat. I guess he wasn’t taking a chance that I would leave him. That little guy lived to be seventeen and was a great companion.

       I have had as many as five cats at a time over the years—I’m now down to three. When I am writing, one’s favourite spot is on my lap, another likes to sit on the desk between me and my computer screen, and the third one sits on the floor and talks to me trying to distract my thoughts. But I don’t mind. They are a joy to have.

 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

In the Name of Love

http://bwlpublishing.ca/authors/donaldson-yarmey-joan/
#1
My husband and I lived on an acreage and my husband work in the country for an oil company. Therefore he didn’t make it into town to buy me a Valentine’s card. So early Valentine’s morning he went outside and packed some snow into a pile. He got a can of red spray paint and painted a heart with an arrow through it on the snow. He also printed Be My Valentine on it. I could see the pile of snow from the kitchen window for months as it was the last snow to melt in the spring.
#2
My mother had moved from Alberta to B.C. to pick fruit and then got a job at a store in Vancouver. Mom’s parents, my grandparents sold their farm in Alberta and bought an acreage near Vancouver. My father was in World War II and was repatriated to Vancouver when it was over.
When dad left the army he got a job and began to look for a place to buy. My grandfather’s health was bad and so they decided to sell their acreage. One of mom’s friends was my dad’s sister and my dad found out about it through his sister. He bought my grandparents acreage and met my mother. They married seven months after meeting and were married for fifty-four years.
The way dad put it: He bought the acreage and got the daughter for free.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Year's Writing Resolutions


 

A New Year’s Resolution could be described as promise made by a person to change themselves or something in their lives for the better. It could be being nicer to their neighbour, reading more, or having more fun. This change begins on New Year’s Day and is supposed to last for the year.

Making a New Year's Pledge is a custom observed mainly in the Western Hemisphere but is sometimes found in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Eight of the top ten resolutions are: spending more time with loved ones; getting in shape through exercise; losing weight; quit smoking; stop drinking; enjoy life more; pay off bills; learn something new.

How do these resolutions relate to my writing?

1.)    Spending more time with loved ones.
Writing is a solitary undertaking. I sit in a room alone with my computer (some writers use pen and paper.) I don’t like to be disturbed because that disturbance usually comes when I am right in the middle of a scene and I want to get it all down the way I am visualizing it. In order to spend more time with loved ones, I have to cut back on my writing. I read an article about one best-selling writer. Her son asked her if she would go to his baseball game. She said she couldn’t because she had to work on her next great book.

2.)    Getting in shape through exercise.
I spend my writing time sitting in a chair. If the story line is going well, I want to keep at it to the detriment of other activities.

3.)    Losing weight.
Hunger distracts me. I find that I write better if I have a full stomach, usually full of chocolates, but anything works.

4&5.) Quit smoking and drinking.
I have never smoked so that is easy. I only have an occasional drink so I am fine with that, also.

6.)    Enjoy life more.
Again, doing anything outside that room takes time away from my writing. And since I enjoy writing my books and planning more stories, I guess I am enjoying life.

7.)    Pay off bills.
Many writers write in order to pay off their bills. Some write hoping that they will have the next great best seller and earn lots of money. Most write because they love to write. Learn something new.

8.)    Learning something new.
Most beginner writers take writing courses to learn their craft. For others writing comes naturally. Many writers take a course in something they are writing about so the reader feels that the writer knows what they are putting in their books. When I write my historical novels I do a lot of research—reading books, visiting the places I am including in the book, and checking sites on the Internet. I have learned so much about Canadian history that I didn’t know before. I like to live by the saying: keep learning because it doesn’t cost anything to store the information.

       So how do my New Year’s pledge(s) relate to those resolutions? I am going to continue doing my exercises in the morning before I begin writing so that I stay in shape. In spite of liking to write with a full stomach I work at maintaining my normal weight and will make sure that I continue to do so. Luckily at this time in my life, I don’t have any large debts and can write because I love to. I am not going to take up smoking nor will I drink more. But I think the most important one is I am going to continue enjoying life by writing more but also by spending more time with family and friends.

       In the past I have set aside my writing so that I could do things with my family and friends. They laugh with me, go places with me, are happy for me when I do something new and different. Writing is words on paper.