Author of A Literary Paris and An Uncommon Heroine.
Jamie’s first book, A Literary Paris, explores great novels that transport readers to The City of Light. A Literary Paris: Hemingway, Colette, Sedaris, and Others on the Uncommon Lure of the City of Light, (Adams Media 2010) is a collection of novel excerpts and not-so-well-known tips for travelers. If you like antique Parisian postcards, the book includes quite a few of those too. Visit the facebook fanpage dedicated to the book, pick it up at your local bookstore, or order it from Amazon.com.
Her second book, An Uncommon Heroine, explores unforgettable women in fiction. An Uncommon Heroine: Jane, Holly, Sula—and More Than 20 Other of the Most Remarkable Women in Literature, Adams Media 2011). Buy from your local bookstore, or Amazon.com.
Contact Jamie at jami...@yahoo.com
I am always honored when asked to judge a contest sponsored by Writer’s Digest. I know with each book I judge that the author has put his or her heart and soul into the words, and so I take the task seriously. I know I would want a judge to do the same for me. One reason I often agree to judge is because reading other people’s writing helps my own writing–to some degree. In the most recent contest I judged I found the same stumbling blocks time and again and I thought perhaps sharing them might help others with their own writing just as I feel it helps me.
Of course the other reason I like to judge on occasion is the thrill of discovering a writer with talent. I’m happy to report that out of the twenty-one books I judged I found I gem!
5 Common Problems in Novel Writing.
1. The narrator reacting to everything as it happens. Writers need to trust their writing and back away. They also need to trust their reader and let readers think for themselves.
2. Stilted dialogue. When you read out loud to friends this is much more noticeable. I highly recommend doing so.
3. Rushing the story along. I found that most of the books I read spent a lot of time on the first chapter and then rushed through the rest.
4. The voices all sound the same. They may sound different to you in your head, but like dialogue, let friends be the judge of that.
5. Description that served no purpose. Description should always move a story along, or help the reader form a more well-rounded view of the character or situation.
All of this is easier said than done of course. I’m still finding my way as a writer and so this list isn’t just for others, it’s for me too. I just thought I’d share it in case it helps anyone else.
In Julie Cantrell’s When Mountains Move we return to Millie’s life just as she marries Bump, leaves Mississippi and moves west to the Colorado mountains. She has high hopes and prays God will guide her as a wife and a pioneer, but she’s also given a role she isn’t certain she wants: motherhood. If the child was Bump’s she would have been happy, but the pregnancy is the result of a rape she’s kept quiet about for fear that Bump would not want her, perhaps not even believe it was a rape. At first she wants to abort the baby, but no one wants to help her do that and so she is forced to come to terms with her situation. Through it all, Millie is forced to deal with her past, her insecurities and the fact that marriage will not work without trust and honesty. She’s forced to come to terms with a number of things and she becomes a better woman for it. Review of Cantrell’s When Mountains Move
In a world full of so much noise and thoughtless rhetoric, it’s nice to read a quiet, thoughtful novel. In Jillian Cantor’s new novel Margot, readers are given the have the opportunity to ask ‘what if?’ What if Margot Frank, Anne Frank’s sister had escaped the concentration camp? What if she had moved to America and started a new life under a new name? Cantor steps inside these sets of ‘what if’s and explores the possibilities with great authenticity and eloquence. The writing is subtle, careful and true to the intricate layers of human nature and a woman’s desires.
The novel opens in 1959 when the movie, The Diary of Anne Frank, comes out in theatres and it seems as though everyone except Margot has seen the film and wants to talk about it. Margie Franklin, the American name Margot Frank has given her American self, does not want to see the movie nor does she want to talk about it. She doesn’t want to talk about her sister’s diary at all; even more, she doesn’t want anyone finding out that Anne Frank is her sister. But as her life in American settles in and she builds relationships in her new world, Margot finds herself at a crossroads and she has to ask herself: How much of Margot Frank is she really willing to give up? Should she spend the rest of her life lying to those she’s come to trust? And what about love? Is it possible to love a man and be loved by him without revealing her true identity?
The book is available September 3rd. To pre-order the book go to: Margot: A Novel, by Jillian Cantor
Holly Golightly played by Emilia Clarke
An Uncommon Heroine
Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly was key to writing my second fiction anthology, An Uncommon Heroine. One should not confuse Capote’s Holly Golightly for the glamorous Hollywood version played by Audrey Hepburn. She was lovely, but she wasn’t much like the real character. It was no wonder Truman Capote was upset when they cast Hepburn for the role. Sure, she was easy to fall in love with, but she was not the Holly Golightly Capote created.
Hollywood was afraid to portray her accurately–a poor southern girl who makes a living as a prostitute in New York. They wanted sweetness packaged in a waif -like figure and in all fairness they were right–American loved their version of Golightly. Hepburn with all her style and charm was, and still is, hard not to like. She’s adorable. She’s beautiful! But she’s not nearly as soulful nor is she as intriguing as Capote’s character.
Fortunately, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s The Musical, based on Capote’s novella is finally giving the real Holly Golightly center stage. Yes, she’s a prostitute. There’s no way around this fact, but her insecurities are timeless and her character is flawed in a way most of us can relate to. She is a dreamer in pursuit of an elusive sense of happiness. She has heart, soul, and a depth that is mostly observed through her music when she sings. She tries so hard to ignore her sorrow, but when she simply can’t–well, that when she goes to Tiffany’s. We read between her words and we know how she feels (we don’t have to trade sex for money to understand this part). What she lacks in confidence she makes up for in resilience and I don’t know about you but I spent my twenties hiding my lack of confidence (probably not well) and relying on my resilience.
Holly Golightly is an uncommon heroine and I’m so glad to see her brought back to life the way Truman Capote meant for her to be.
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s The Musical
I don’t smoke but if I did, I would learn how to make those cool smoke rings. You know what I’m talking about. In the novel I’m currently writing, Zelda, who is 82, teaches a young man how do to this. For those of you who already smoke and have no intention of quitting but don’t know how to make smoke rings…here are some pointers I picked up in my research…..
Partially inhale. Keep the smoke in your throat.
Move your tongue to the back of your throat.
Shape your lips into an “o” and make the “oo” sound (or pretend to make the “oo” sound). Think boot or shoot. Exaggerate this motion.
Next, push a small amount of air out of your lower throat. Don’t breathe here and don’t move your lower jaw. Once you get this down, the smoke rings should come out nice and easy.
Remember, you have to have your tongue as far back in your mouth as possible and you have to have enough smoke to form a ring, plus enough breath to push the smoke out. It’s hard, until it’s easy. Or course, I’m not the expert so feel free to write in and give advice and please, if you don’t smoke, don’t start now. Sure, it’s cool, but my character is eighty-two with lung cancer. She quit smoking forty-five years ago–until one night, she decides to buy and pack and enjoy an old addiction.
Here’s a few good books on Pinterest that I’ve compiled for any of you who are missing Paris like I am today. http://pinterest.com/jcrobertson/books-for-francophiles/
In the novel I’m currently writing, a character, to my own surprise, has began searching for a better understanding of the sea. She has no interest in marine biology, no, her interest lie in all the literature that his been written about the sea and the reasons why it some times makes us think and do things we might not do on land. What is it about the open waters?
A few for Sea and Literature….
Sweet and Low, poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Jane Eyre (yes, Ms. Bronte has some poetic thoughts on the sea)
The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner
The Old Man and the Sea
More to come…
I’ve posted a board on Pinterest with some of my daughter’s (she’s six) favorite books. Beverly Cleary of course–my daughter has good taste!
If you’re looking for suggestions on what to read this winter, click on this link and check out my recommendations.
It’s hard to work when there’s so many good books out there to read!
I’ve got a board on Pinterest I think you’re going to like.