The Story Behind My Blog's Title

The Story Behind My Blog's Title
Why is my blog named "My Father's Oldsmobile"? Click on the car and find out.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Guest Review by Heather Smith)

Review of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

 If you are a fan of old English romances, then this book is definitely one you should check out. Take everything you love about Jane Austen’s novels, add in even stronger male characters and a commentary on the life of the working man, and you have Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South.

The heroine of the story is Margaret Hale, a headstrong and yet caring young woman who is torn from her lovely and sedate life in the South of England and tossed into the busy and noisy North by her father’s religious convictions. After befriending a mill worker’s dying daughter and making her way through the coal-covered streets of Milton, Margaret catches the eye of mill master Mr. Thornton. He falls for her and proposes, but is rejected.

One thing after another throws them together, and eventually they both feel the attraction growing between them, though misunderstandings and secrets still keep them apart. When unforeseen occurrences send Margaret back to London, Mr. Thornton fears he shall never see her again. However the ending of the book satisfies the romantic in us all.

This wonderful book is also a great mini-series in the BBC adaptation. The actor that plays Mr. Thornton is the very sexy Richard Armitage, and even the mill worker is an actor you might recognize from Downton Abby. The beautiful scenery and great acting make the BBC adaptation a must see accompaniment to this must read book!

Excerpt from North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell:

‘Is there neces­sity for call­ing it a bat­tle between the two classes?’ asked Mr. Hale. ‘I know, from your using the term, it is one which gives a true idea of the real state of things to your mind.’

‘It is true; and I believe it to be as much a neces­sity as that pru­dent wis­dom and good con­duct are always opposed to, and doing bat­tle with igno­rance and improv­i­dence. It is one of the great beau­ties of our sys­tem, that a working-man may raise him­self into the power and posi­tion of a mas­ter by his own exer­tions and behav­iour; that, in fact, every one who rules him­self to decency and sobri­ety of con­duct, and atten­tion to his duties, comes over to our ranks; it may not be always as a mas­ter, but as an over-looker, a cashier, a book-keeper, a clerk, one on the side of author­ity and order.’

‘You con­sider all who are unsuc­cess­ful in rais­ing them­selves in the world, from what­ever cause, as your ene­mies, then, if I under-stand you rightly,’ said Margaret’ in a clear, cold voice. As their own ene­mies, cer­tainly,’ said he, quickly, not a lit­tle piqued by the haughty dis­ap­proval her form of expres­sion and tone of speak­ing implied.

But, in a moment, his straight­for­ward hon­esty made him feel that his words were but a poor and
quib­bling answer to what she had said; and, be she as scorn­ful as she liked, it was a duty he owed to him­self to explain, as truly as he could, what he did mean. Yet it was very dif­fi­cult to
sep­a­rate her inter­pre­ta­tion, and keep it dis­tinct from his mean­ing. He could best have illus­trated what he wanted to say by telling them some­thing of his own life; but was it not too per­sonal a sub­ject to speak about to strangers? Still, it was the sim­ple straight­for­ward way of explain­ing his mean­ing; so, putting aside the touch of shy­ness that brought a momen­tary flush of colour into his dark cheek, he said:

‘I am not speak­ing with­out book. Sixteen years ago, my father died under very mis­er­able cir­cum­stances. I was taken from school, and had to become a man (as well as I could) in a few days. I had such a mother as few are blest with; a woman of strong power, and firm resolve. We went into a small coun­try town, where liv­ing was cheaper than in Milton, and where I got employ­ment in a draper’s shop (a cap­i­tal place, by the way, for obtain­ing a knowl­edge of goods). Week by week our income came to fif­teen shillings, out of which three peo­ple had to be kept. My mother man­aged so that I
put by three out of these fif­teen shillings reg­u­larly. This made the begin­ning; this taught me self-denial. Now that I am able to afford my mother such com­forts as her age, rather than her own
wish, requires, I thank her silently on each occa­sion for the early train­ing she gave me. Now when I feel that in my own case it is no good luck, nor merit, nor talent,–but sim­ply the habits of life which taught me to despise indul­gences not thor­oughly earned,–indeed, never to think twice about them,–I believe that this suf­fer­ing, which Miss Hale says is impressed on the coun­te­nances of the peo­ple of Milton, is but the nat­ural pun­ish­ment of dishonestly-enjoyed plea­sure, at some for­mer period of their lives. I do not look on self-indulgent, sen­sual peo­ple as wor­thy of my hatred; I sim­ply look upon them with con­tempt for their poor­ness of character.’

‘But you have had the rudi­ments of a good edu­ca­tion,’ remarked Mr. Hale. ‘The quick zest with which you are now read­ing Homer, shows me that you do not come to it as an unknown book; you have read it before, and are only recall­ing your old knowledge.’

‘That is true,–I had blun­dered along it at school; I dare say, I was even con­sid­ered a pretty fair clas­sic in those days, though my Latin and Greek have slipt away from me since. But I ask you, what prepa­ra­tion they were for such a life as I had to lead? None at all. Utterly none at all. On the point of edu­ca­tion, any man who can read and write starts fair with me in the amount of really use­ful knowl­edge that I had at that time.’

‘Well! I don’t agree with you. But there I am per­haps some­what of a pedant. Did not the rec­ol­lec­tion of the heroic sim­plic­ity of the Homeric life nerve you up?’

‘Not one bit!’ exclaimed Mr. Thornton, laugh­ing. ‘I was too busy to think about any dead peo­ple, with the liv­ing press­ing along­side of me, neck to neck, in the strug­gle for bread. Now that I have my mother safe in the quiet peace that becomes her age, and duly rewards her for­mer exer­tions, I can turn to all that old nar­ra­tion and thor­oughly enjoy it.’

Author Bio

Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to hire a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blog Meme: The Next Big Thing

Blog Meme: The Next Big Thing

I normally don’t do blog memes. But this one kinda grabbed me. Not the usual, "What color socks are you wearing?" It’s basically part of an ongoing chain of book and author recommendations called “The Next Big Thing.” 

The whole idea is that writers get “tagged,” answer ten quick fire questions on their blog, and then tag five other writers … so that before long you have a whole web of writers answering the same questions, and linking to one another through social media. I was tagged by
Kat Heckenbach (thanks, Kat!) and will henceforth tag five writer friends at the end of this post who will answer these same ten questions on their blogs next Wednesday. (I tagged five, but I only got permission from two, so this may come as a surprise to a few)

Here we go:

1) What is the title of your next book/work?

The working title for my next book is Bleed. (This doesn't refer to a physical state)

I'm stepping away from historicals for a bit (sort of) to try my hand at something new. It's a paranormal thriller/romance where two timelines infiltrate one another within a room inside a house where a tragedy, the murder of the story's hero, took place over one hundred years ago (see, a little bit historical). The heroine must solve it in the present to prevent it from happening again. The romance element is a complicated one, as the hero and heroine's encounters are stuck somewhere between reality and a dream-state. Also, a good romance doesn't have to end happily ever after to be satisfying. So you won't find one of these characters jumping from a bridge, like in Kate and Leopold, and ending up transported. Cute for that movie, but it'd be contrived if I tried to pull something like that off in my book.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

I've wanted to try something different for a while. I love old historical properties that look like they have a story to tell. The more dilapidated the better. Sometimes I Google this sort of thing and just stare and wonder. I came across the most curious chateau in France. It needs complete restoration and just looks like really fascinating things happened there. That's the one that really got my senses going for this.

The main idea came to me afterward, while I was in the shower.

Here's the chateau. 

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?

I would classify it as a Paranormal thriller first and romance second. Though, the romance will be a very strong element, but not sappy, no sap allowed. I want the romance to play off the impossibility factor, which is a result of the parnormal activity surrounding the hero and heroine's encounters with one another.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

This is hard for me, mainly because I rarely cast books. I have a vivid picture of what the character looks like in my mind, and on occasion there's an actor or actress that stands out.

Okay, hmm...
Well, both my characters are older, as in the sense of mid-to-late thirties (older for books and movies).

My hero is a bit cynical. He challenges everything, and he can't stand people who don't bother to think beyond what they are told. He can be rather combative, especially with his sister, whom he frustrates to no end. He runs the family business, has never married, and pretty much insults every woman he meets within the first five minutes. He's a curious man, intelligent and highly capable, but not exactly pleasant.

I think the winner is Javier Bardem. My character Louis Everett (name is still subject to change) isn't Spanish, but there's something in this guys eyes that makes me think of the qualities above.

Evie Reynolds is also a bit burnt out on life. She's (hold your breath) a successful author who has recently been through an ugly divorce. Evie has always been a caring sort, out to save the world, and the attitude change she's witnessed in herself as a result of the broken trust in her marriage and the nastiness of the divorce concerns her. She doesn't want to be this person she's becoming. So when we encounter her in the story, she's taking steps to try and nurture her good-hearted and adventurous nature. She likes these qualities about her and doesn't want to lose them.

So... with that in mind, I have to go with Ashley Judd. I love her smile. It makes her look like she never loses her sense of wonder. Plus, she's not afraid to cut her hair short, and I just think that Evie wears her hair that way. Sort of like below.

There is a villain, but he is unknown for much of the story, so I'm not casting him to anyone other than myself. :) 

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A violent tragedy tears through time allowing two eras to bleed into one another, and gives the victim the chance to find companionship, love, and the potential to alter fate.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

All of my previous books have been published with a small press, and my experience has been really great, but I'm going to try and capture an agent with this one, and hopefully, eventually, get published by a larger press.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I completed my last book this past summer and have spent the past few months going through edits. This idea has been brewing for about three months, but I'm just a couple of very rough chapters in, and I’m absolutely certain that these will be completely rewritten because that's just my method: Awkward start, find my way into the story, start over and revise.
Stories for me have to have a brewing period of several months. During this time I write lots of notes, some random and out of order scenes, a horrible beginning, and I also character journal. I research a lot during this period too and work on several versions of a synopsis so I can see a clear path to the end of the story, I still leave wiggle room to allow the characters to evolve and for scenes to unfold in unexpected ways. Once that last bit of major research clicks, and my vision to the end of the book is clear, I write fast. If I work diligently and late into the night, I can write a full book in under three months. Of course, it needs revisions and editing, but not a total scrap and overhaul. I've written five novels now, and all have followed this pattern. I expect this book to as well.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Urr... Are we allowed to skip questions?

I'm honestly not sure right now. It may be that I'm just too early in the process to know. There are similarities to the story in the movie The Lake House. I hadn't thought about this until someone mentioned it to me, but only the timeline element really, and vaguely at that.

I'll have to think about this one. At present I don't have answer.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My family is always inspiring, but I think the bulk of this one probably goes to my youngest daughter Kaylee. She loves Fantasy, and knows that I do too, and has encouraged me for some time to branch out. She also enjoys sharing in my picture collection of old houses, castles, etc. We both have wild imaginations and enjoy spurring one another. Did I mention she writes?

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, I think everyone kind of loves an impossible love story, and a good thriller always keeps a person's interest, especially those in the style of M. Knight Shyamalon. I'm no M. Knight Shyamalon, but I'd sure like to aspire to his level. Needless to say, this story will have a twist. Well, not really a twist, not when you look back on it, but hopefully, if I do it right, readers won't expect how it ends, even though in hindsight, it will make perfect sense. That's all I'm saying.

And now for the tagging:

Jennifer Hartz, author of the series Future Savior. The fourth book in this futuristic fantasy series just released. I LOVE these books!

Tina Pinson. Tina's an author who dabbles in several genres. She's also recently had a second book in a series release: Shadowed Dreams. I really like her Gothic who-dun-it tale, In The Manor of the Ghost.

Sadie and Sophie Cuffe. There's romance, intrigue and plenty of action going on. Be prepared to get hit over the head with how good these are. (It happens to the characters.)

Michelle Sutton. Romance writer? Yes. Typical? Oh... no... Not by a long shot.

Nike Chillemi.  Author of good ole fashion suspense. Humphrey Bogart would fit right in with her stories.


1970 Olds 442


If you're curious about the story behind the name of my blog, click on the car. :)