Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Critique Groups plus The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel #giveaway

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 1 comment
Today my Romance Critique group met in Culver City. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fairies lunched in the same restaurant. They were on a publicity mission. We were on a 'make my writing better' mission.
MY critique group are the ones not in pink.
Me, Tema Merback(writing  as Belle Ami), Therese Gilardi, Kelly Hartog and her companion, Bronte
The Maisel ladies gave us roses and souvenir notebooks. I am giving you a chance to win mine. (The notebook. The rose wouldn't mail well.)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel got 16 well deserved Emmy nominations and is my current favorite series. You can binge it on Amazon Prime. All. Nine. Episodes.  I wept when I realized there were no more to watch. I can't wait for season 2.
If you haven't seen the show here's the premise:
It's the late 1950s and Miriam "Midge" Maisel has everything she has ever wanted -- the perfect husband, two kids and an elegant apartment on New York's Upper West Side. Her seemingly idyllic life takes a surprising turn when she discovers a hidden talent she didn't previously know she had -- stand-up comedy. This revelation changes her life forever as she begins a journey that takes her from her comfortable life on the Upper West Side through the cafes and nightclubs of Greenwich Village as she makes her way through the city's comedy industry on a path that could ultimately lead her to a spot on the "Tonight Show" couch. The series was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino ("Gilmore Girls").
The premise doesn't do justice to the wonderful scripts, terrific acting, the fabulous period sets and costumes, and a score I can't get out of my head.
I'll put a Rafflecopter for the notebook at the end of the post.

Critique Groups
If you are a writer, you probably belong to a critique group. A good critique supports each other, and makes each other's work better. My group is fantastic. None of us write the same kind of novel. Therese Gilardi usually writes young adult. Tema Merback writes romantic suspense under the pen name Belle Ami, Kelly Hartog writes women's fiction and I jump all over the place. I know when two of them point out the same thing, I must pay attention.

Right now I am working on a novel that starts in Victorian England and jumps to 1940 wartime England. The heroine is a real person from history. Ada Augusta Lovelace - Lord Byron's Daughter.

Lord George Gordon Byron was a leading poet, politician and scandalous rake. His wife left him shortly after Ada was born. She saw that her daughter was given an excellent education in science and mathematics, hoping to avoid the strain of madness Lord Byron exhibited. Ada grew up to be a brilliant mathematician. She invented the first computer language in way back in 1843 for a machine that was a mere an idea - Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine. Her story has fascinated me since I learned of her in my first computer history class. I wanted to time travel her to 1940 when Alan Turing, hero of the movie, The Imitation Game first made his machine to break German codes. I knew he had used Ada's work. Thus my novel.

Here is an example of how a critique group improves a story.
Lord Byron’s Daughter 
2nd draft - the first being unreadable to anyone but the author.
Papa would not have approved of her current situation. But then Papa never stuck around long enough to approve anything.
Ada pushed her away out of Baron Mountjoy’s embrace. “Sir you go too far.”
“No, I must have you. You are my light, my sta,r my fortune.”
Well that at least rang true.
“Sir, perhaps you are unaware of the fact that papa’s will specified that I married an Englishman I would be cut off without a penny.”
  Baron Mountjoy stepped back, his codfish eyes gaping. “Why would an Englishman make a will like that? Even a demmed caper merchant like Lord Byron?”
Mountjoy stank of whiskey and days old perspiration. Was he so sure that the spinster daughter of Lord Bryon was so desperate to marry that he didn’t bother to change his shirt?
Stains of Handel’s Water Music drifted in from the ballroom.
“Papa didn’t approve of Englishmen. My fortune is contingent on my marrying an Italian.”
“Good lord the man was even dottier than he was rumored to be.”
True. Ada smoothed her skirts, wondering how she could induce the man to leave the library.
She’d only allowed herself to be persuaded consented to let her mother drag her to this ball at Lord Stanley’s house in hopes of examining his mathematical treatises. She’s heard from Babbage that he had works of Pythagoras that had never been read. Babbage lamented his inability to translate ancient Greek.

This is the current first page after my critiqu group's input. I think it's better.
Lord Byron’s Daughter
London, April 1840
The massive library door shut, muting the strains of shrill conversation from Lady King’s overcrowded ballroom.
Ada Byron’s taffeta skirts rustled, disturbing the cathedral-like silence which called to her soul. She’d only allowed her mother to drag her to the Countess of Lovelace’s ball in hopes of examining her ladyship’s son’s collection of mathematical treatises. When she heard from Charles Babbage that William King had a rare untranslated work of Pythagoras, she knew she had to read it. She was convinced it held the final key to her new language for Mr. Babbage’s probability machine.
Plump arms stole around her waist overlaying the intoxicating scent of old books and rich leather with the stench of garlic. Allowing Baron Mountjoy to escort her into their hostess’s glorious library was an error in judgement.
Ada pushed her way out of Baron Mountjoy’s embrace. “Sir, you go too far.”
Mountjoy stank of days-old perspiration. One would think a man planning to court a woman, even one so far on the shelf as she was, would bother to change his shirt.
 “No, I must have you. You are my light. My star. My fortune.”
His fortune? Well, that at least rang true.
May you find a book to love today. Happy Reading.


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