Archive | March 2013

Jodi Picoult’s “Lone Wolf”

Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf is as emotionally-charged as her previous novels. If you like stories about nature and wild animals, you’ll find this one extremely interesting, educational, and engaging. Luke Warren, an environmentalist and conservationist, is determined to challenge a prevalent belief about wolves as predators that attack other animals and people for sport rather than mere survival. So he first integrates himself into a wolf pack in the zoo where he works, and then takes his experiment to the extreme level by moving to the woods in Canada and living with a pack of wolves for two years, becoming a member. His return to his human family and community is almost as hard as being accepted by the pack. Needless to say, it’s traumatic not only for him but for his wife and two children as well.

Personally, I would’ve regarded Luke Warren’s experiment as pure fiction, thus absolutely impossible, if Jodi Picoult didn’t mention in her acknowledgments a scientist named Shaun Ellis who’d written about his own experience in a book, The Man Who Lived with Wolves. Which is on my reading list, of course.

Charlotte Rogan’s “The Lifeboat”

Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat is an amazing story of one’s will to survive at any cost. This novel is Titanic  in words, so beautifully and skillfully written that you don’t need to see the film to visualize the shipwreck and plight of the passengers, those who go down and those who get lucky to have a seat in a lifeboat.

When the ocean liner, Empress Alexandra, sinks due to fire in 1914, Grace Winter, a 22-year-old newly-wed, is secured a place in a lifeboat by her husband. And the ordeal continues.

The novel shows how a disaster can bring the best out of people, as well as the worst. It shows how humans can be reduced to an animal state, following the strongest of the pack, and when that leader, to whom they owe their survival for several days, loses some of his power, they betray him and cling to his opponent. How they become chameleons and even murderers—all for the sole purpose of their own survival.

Find Time to Write!

From all the interviews that I’ve read in numerous issues of The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazines, I’ve learned the most valuable advice that every successful author gives aspiring writers: Allot time for your daily writing and stick to it no matter what!

In order to achieve that you need to do a few things, some of which are as follows:

One: Put a “Do not disturb” sign on the door of your study, warning your family about your absolute need for a quiet writing time. Two: Disconnect the Internet, eliminating your temptation to check your e-mail or to browse for hot world news. Three: Glue your rear to a chair and stay in it for 3-4 hours at a time, without taking a break, until you produce a certain number of pages or words (assigned to you by yourself).

Well, what about my current situation?

One: Yes, I can certainly put a warning sign on my door, if my two canine children could read. But even if they could read, by some miracle, I doubt that they would pay attention to it, much less heed my request, being very young and thus in need of constant release of their energy and something else that requires going outside, especially our four-month-old Greta, who is not completely housebroken yet.

Two: Right now, I can’t possibly disconnect the Internet or stop checking my e-mail because my human child is traveling overseas, and I need to be available to her at any hour, in case she wants to share her impressions with me, which I’m dying to know.

Three: Yes, I can glue myself to a chair in front of this computer for several hours straight, but if nothing comes to my mind within those hours, I absolutely cannot produce solid, or even slightly satisfactory, 3-4 pages as planned, even if my life depended on it. When ideas and images flood me, however, I can’t type fast enough sentences and paragraphs, and a couple of thousand words fill the screen within an hour. But when there’s drought in my mind, then there’s drought.

So, what’s the solution? Here’s one: Remember the extraordinary feeling of joy of holding your own novel, fresh from the publisher, and you’ll find the time and the way to stick to writing your book, come hell or high water!

Which is exactly what I’m trying to do–every day! 🙂

Something out of Nothing

I listened to an interview with George Saunders on NPR today, and I liked what he said about the completion of a story. “When you finish writing your story, you’re amazed at how much it has evolved from the moment you started it to its ending.” Which made me remember what I had said to my friend the other day: “You, as a writer, create something out of nothing, and it’s so amazing that you can’t quite believe that you did it. But you did!”

Not to offend other artists, who, in addition to their imagination, employ something physical to make their product (paints and brushes for a painter, construction materials for a builder, fabric for a dressmaker), all writers have at their disposal is their language. Words and images.

So when I look at my three novels, Disengaged, Without Thinking Twice, and A Measure of Guilt, each more than 250 pages long, yes, I am amazed.

Greta turns 4 months old!

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Unbridled energy, sassiness, cockiness, and bossiness—these are the words that describe our golden retriever, Greta. And she’s only 4 months old! (What will she be like as an adult?) Yes, at this tender age, she already bosses our two-year-old Gunner around, who not only outweighs her by 45 pounds, but who is stubborn and strong-willed himself, being a German shepherd. But he lets her do whatever she wants. Probably because she’s too cute. Her extremely affectionate personality plays a big part too, I guess. When Gunner sleeps, Greta either licks the inside of his ear or just watches him affectionately. Just like in this picture.

Our doggies! Man, they make our life so much richer and happier!