Welcome to my new blog! I’ll be kicking it off with a countdown to my Book Launch! Keep posted!
March 9, 2015
by Rose Scott
January 27, 2015
by Rose Scott
January 27, 2015
by Rose Scott
In talking to people during the writing process of my book, I have discovered repeatedly that everyone has a story. True stories or books and movies based on real events are the most interesting in my opinion.
Our lives are filled with triumph and tragedy, love and loss, pain and perseverance. Life can deal some difficult blows, but how we react to is different in each person. Therein lies the story.
On a recent flight we watched a movie “The Good Lie,” a heartbreaking but inspiring story of “The Lost Boys of Sudan” who survive the razing of their village and the brutal murder of their parents. Together they form a small family unit, as they flee to safety, carrying only a few necessities, among which are a Bible. Eventually joining another larger group of refugees they trek along the African plains and jungles for over 700 miles. Along the way, they lose loved ones, to illness, kidnapping and later in the narrative to bureaucracy.
Stunned and shell-shocked, they spend the remainder of their childhood and teen years in a rudimentary refugee camp, eventually arriving in the US, where they are completely baffled by the complexities of modern conveniences, employment and social realities.
It would have been so easy for these young men to stay stuck in their tragedy, when everyone who mattered in their lives had been taken and all semblance of normal life was stripped away. But though they come close to losing their way, they cling tenaciously to hope, to faith that seems absurd at times and to the kind of integrity that loses one of the characters his job. I am fortunate to never have experienced real trauma in my life. I have never faced starvation, abuse or lost a close loved one too early, but I struggle with chronic physical issues which on many days make me want to give up, and just eat the whole box of chocolates. By myself.
That’s OK for a little while. Sometimes, when we are reeling from pain and loss, we need to rest, grieve our losses and nurse our pain and lament. But there comes a time when we need to get up and work through our sorrows. We need to seek out the beauty from the ashes, look for the sun behind the clouds and tenaciously move on clinging to whatever shreds of hope are left.
Even in our brokenness, we can reach out to others.
While trying to find their way in a strange land and culture, these young men in “The Good Lie” clung to the hope of re-unification of some their group. Were they still sad? I don’t doubt it for one second, but they hung in.
My book “Threaten to Undo Us” tells the story of other people who persevered even when all seemed lost. The original title I had chosen was “A Mighty Fortress,” which to me speaks of a God who is ever faithful even when He is silent, a refuge of faith where we can hide.
Faith in God is greater than anything this evil world can throw our way and overcomes repeatedly even when, in our human view things have gone completely sideways. He promises beauty for ashes and gladness for mourning for those who hang on and look for it.
That is powerful story.
September 1, 2014
by Rose Scott
Now I’ve done it. Signed a book contract with Promontory Press and completed negotiations on a title and cover. At present I am awaiting their edits.
On the one hand, I am elated that my book is finally being published. On the other hand, I am as terrified as an overprotective mother sending her child off to college. In a foreign country.
Yes, I know I referred to my novel as a baby a short time ago, but they all grow so fast. Did I teach him everything he needs to know? Can he cook? Do laundry? Is he ready? Am I ready?
Yikes! No-one told me it would be like this. Maybe I should have utilized more beta readers. Did I make any critical errors, with all the changes I made? What if I changed a character’s hair colour part way through or got some farming practice incorrect? What if I’ve missed a crucial aspect of German or Polish cultural life or language? Are my war scenes realistic? (Spoiler- I went for PG so they probably aren’t). I tried my best, but honestly, despite the stack of books I’ve been through there are some things I just don’t know.
“Write what you know” is what they said at one of the first writing workshops I took. Did I follow that advice? Nope. I had already picked what I was most compelled to write about, which happened to have numerous facets of “stuff I have never experienced” and background info that was nearly impossible to find out, so I went to great lengths, even a trip to Poland to “know” what I was writing about.
So, if my readers are only slightly less diligent than I, my story should remain realistic and its world intact for the reader. At least that is what the logical part of my brain is telling me! If it does not turn out to be so, please let me know and I will correct it for the Second Edition! Presumptuous to think there would be a second edition, but allow me a little fantasy here.
After 18 or so revisions, it is time for this one to move out. When “Threaten to Undo Us” goes to print, that’s it. My baby will fly the nest of my efforts and live or die on its own merits. In putting the story out there I will face the possibility of success or failure.
As a parent I know the bitter sweetness of barely adult children leaving home and going off to make lives of their own. But in breaking those ties, we forge new ones and relate in a different way. That is as it should be. Now, instead of just me and my book, I hand it over to you, the reader. You will have the final word.
And so I must, in the words of a popular song… Let it go!
July 7, 2014
by Rose Scott
Oops, did I mention those things are mutually exclusive. Few novelists become millionaires. In fact, by the time all is said and done, I expect to be paid about 57 cents an hour for the work I did. Assuming you will be so kind as to buy my book!
I don’t usually blog about the writing process. Lots of my fellow writers are superior at that, but today I’ll take a stab at it as my experiences are unique and may be of help. Especially if you have steady income streams from other sources.
First of all I honestly had no idea how most novels are written when I started this project. I still don’t, except I’m pretty sure they begin with a story that the writer has in their head and wants to get out.
In my case, I can’t take much credit as the story didn’t come from my head but from real life people and situations. As time has gone by, I realize the world is full of stories. All you have to do is pay attention to people and listen.
I didn’t have to do much with the plot, it was already present. I know the characters personally, but since this is a novel, I gave them different names and characteristics, with generous borrowing from the real people. It was like pre-cooked bacon. I love bacon!
But lest you think I just stuck it all into the microwave and pressed a button, you ought to know, a full historical novel requires more than plot and characters. Information and research is vitally important and my biggest fear is to make an obvious error. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, information on this aspect of history was difficult to come by and most of the real life people I talked to were children at the time, their knowledge of political and war events minimal.
Many conversations were piecemeal, jotted down as people happened to be sharing their stories of cruelty and injustice. I tried not to press too hard, letting them reveal only what they chose to reveal. I put together a “history” of sorts, a chronology of the events and the political and social happenings that shaped the time.
When I started in earnest with the novel, the first few scenes involved the main character’s childhood home. I had an old photograph to go on but my creative writing skills were rusty and you won’t find that first paragraph in its original form. It was very bad.
I also wrote a scene from a little boy’s perspective regarding bedbugs, however when I got further into the book, it became apparent that his character would not be granted a “Point Of View.” So I had to re-work the scene and share it with another character instead.
Early in the process, I took a creative writing course, helping me learn about “scene” and “point of view.” Since then I have taken other courses that have been extremely helpful. If you want to write a novel and have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to find out. Go to a writer’s conference, take a course or read some writing blogs like these:
Here are a few helpful blogs: http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ http://www.writewithexcellence.com/ http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
My story had a basic chronology, but I often didn’t know how the characters would transition from one situation to the next, so I wrote scenes in all kinds of random order as they came to me- sometimes at 4:00 AM. Honestly. Cheers all round please. I am not a morning person.
I drew heavily from other personal accounts as well as my own imagination as to how things unfolded. Then I reworked them. Countless times.
They say you should write what you know, so in 2009, I visited Poland and the former “East” Germany. Nothing like the real setting to bring writing to life!
Though many Christians write “Christian” novels providing clean and uplifting reads for other believers, I wanted my novel to have appeal to a broader audience. How interesting that faith, as a recurring theme in the midst of chaos, implanted itself into the story with little conscious effort on my part. That can only be a God thing. He has a role in all creative endeavours. I thank Him for that, even if I have to get up at 4:00 AM to write!
June 26, 2014
by Rose Scott
What is the point of novel writing anyway? Aren’t there enough books out there?
Fluffy romances for summer reading, thrillers and mysteries for entertainment. If I want to effect change wouldn’t it make more sense to write non-fiction, like a self-help book?
Fiction, by definition is “not true.” And yet, a good novel can tell the truth, about our human condition, the world and our place in it. A literary work takes me on a journey to some place I’ve never been and into the psyche of someone I would not otherwise understand. The writer reveals something of what he or she understands about humanity and invites me to that place of dilemma, pain or joy with a different set of choices than I am presented with. Often these choices force a re-examination of what I believe. To be challenged in this way is a good thing.
Some of the most influential books throughout history have been novels. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and George Orwell’s 1984 are two such works. Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, though written 200 years ago, reminds us that our assumptions about other people are often wrong. George Orwell’s classic book about Big Brother’s pervasive presence, long before the advent of smart phones or even TV was a prophetic look at the world we live in today.
“The truth will set you free,” Jesus said, and though he was talking about Himself and the gospel, telling the truth in general can be freeing.
When I began writing my book, based on actual events, I felt compelled to tell the story of what happened during a period of history that has been largely hidden from view.
As I tried to find out more, I was stumped by the lack of information. In fact one author, John Sacks, who wrote about specific aspects of the post-World War Two years, was initially censored and suppressed for his efforts. Truth telling is not always popular.
Fortunately in the past twelve years or so, the internet has made information increasingly available to a diligent seeker. Glimpses of the past, previously shrouded from common knowledge are resurfacing. Truth cannot be kept concealed. Survivors are speaking out and some of the infamous camps in Poland now have monuments and plaques explaining what happened after the Holocaust. Books in the english language are emerging on the topic.
The long silence did not make pain and suffering go away. It has to be revealed because hatred is bred where ignorance and misunderstanding reigns. That is why, through the fabric of a novel, I strive to tell the truth.
June 9, 2014
by Rose Scott
Great news! I’m expecting. Now, that I have your attention and before you start any rumors about this biological improbability impossibility, you should know I’ve been gestating for about 12 years. Time to pop this kid, I mean novel, out.
Like many writers, I view my book as a baby. Writing page after page, editing, researching and watching it grow from an idea to a full manuscript has been a long and sometimes painful process and the labour of publishing hasn’t even begun.
If you have known me for a long time you have probably thought, she’s been talking about this book since forever. Is it really going to happen? You had every right to think that. In fact, I’ve wondered myself. My life is littered with unfinished projects- a personality flaw of mine, but when it comes to writing, I am compelled to finish, especially this particular book.
Perhaps you are curious about the particulars: Is it a boy or girl? What does it weigh? The nice thing about this kind of baby, (besides the lack of pregnancy weight gain) is I can tell you quite a bit before it is born.
My book is fiction, but based on real life events that took place during and after the Second World War. For a brief synopsis of the little known history, it goes something like this: Large ethnic German minorities lived in nearly every state in Europe, but as the war came to an end, the decision was made by the World Leaders to send all the Germans to Germany, even though Germany was divided, in ruins and barely able to sustain its postwar population.
My version of the story goes like this:
In 1945 the Third Reich is crumbling and Liesel, a mother of four, with a fifth child on the way is at home dreaming of her husband, a prisoner of war in Russia. A voice on a bullhorn jolts her to attention. “All German citizens are ordered to evacuate. You are no longer under the protection of the German army.” Leaving her dying mother behind she flees her home in Poland, in a race to cross the Oder River to German held territory. But it is too late, the Russian army catches up with the family and life will never be the same. Under the communist regime, Liesel is arrested, interrogated and separated from her children. For a time she does not know if her husband is dead or alive and political forces seem bound to keep them apart years after the war has ended. Will she be able to bring her family together again?
As the due date gets closer I’ll be keeping you informed!
June 3, 2014
by Rose Scott
Contemplation is a lost art.
I was never really good at it to begin with, that kind of sitting around watching the grass grow, but I think it is necessary for children and grown-ups too. A few minutes of boredom, especially boredom surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature feeds the imagination. I find this is true every time I weed the garden- a mundane and boring task with no flashing lights, music or facebook notifications. Yet when I weed my mind goes off into some creative space and I come away inspired with new writing material.
Today’s children have no room for boredom. Every spare minute is filled- if not with activities then computers, tablets and smartphones incessantly demanding not only their time but their whole conscious mind.
Could it be why depression is so prevalent?
Our minds need to wander: observing the minutae of an insect or a flower or doing a repetitious task allows reflection. Our spirits need to meditate without distraction; to think on the grace and mercy of God for instance, which will take forever. Even our bodies need a break from cramped muscles and our vision rest from flickering images.
Time to go stare at the clouds and trees……Ahhhh.
May 13, 2014
by Rose Scott
Note: this is an updated post with corrected information regarding Boko Haram. In my previous post (now deleted) I referred to Haram as an individual, rather than an entity.
Brightly dressed women waving placards contrast with somberly clad kidnap victims in a tableau of fear and coercion. The news and social media are buzzing with demands to return the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Once again, to right to education for girls all over the world is a hot topic.
But I see a fundamental problem here in our western emphasis of trying to correct the problem. Absolutely girls need to be educated, but I think the focus need to be re-directed, at least for the time being.
In societies where women are not treated humanely and in circles where kidnapping young women is acceptable, it is the MEN who need to be educated and taught why having an educated wife is a good thing for a household, for society and the economy.
Why wouldn’t a man want an intelligent life partner? Even if, in his mind, a woman’s sole destiny was to be a wife and mother, wouldn’t he want a woman at his side who can read instructions, who knows how to get the best yield from a garden and how to look after a sick child? How about someone who can count, add and subtract enough to get the best deal at the market or run a business enterprise to help feed the family? Even better, how about someone who can carry on an intelligent conversation and use their knowledge to help others?
A woman is more than just an object to warm a bed and bear offspring. She is more than a slave to man’s needs and desires. She is not just property, she is a human being, created in the image of God and worthy of love and honour. She was created to live freely and give her love to one whom she chooses. Societies that recognize this reap the rewards. Men, you will benefit when women are educated and given choices.
Either the men in Boko Haram are incorrigible, or they just don’t know any better. While there are verses in the Quran which seem to indicate a number of disturbing ideas about the status of females, even it states that men should be kind to women and not inherit them by compulsion. (Surat An-Nisa 4:19). That would rule out kidnapping.
Could it be that it’s the gun-slinging kidnappers that need education? Young boys need to be taught humane treatment of their mothers, sisters and future wives, before they are exposed to terrorist ideology and machine-guns. Only when men in power use their influence to extend rights and show kindness to women will things really change.
May 6, 2014
by Rose Scott
Over almost 30 years I have taught over a hundred piano students. All of them were unique. Many made me smile with their diligent efforts, if not their music. And there were a few that made me conclude that it would have been much easier to stick with bookkeeping as a career. Making students laugh was great, making them cry, not so much. I am proud to say, at least one former student I know of became a piano teacher, and others have accomplished impressive things, both musically and otherwise.
My students mostly complied with my program, advancing their way methodically through their books with my guidance, rarely questioning my ability or knowledge. I adjusted to learning styles and abilities as needed, or so I thought, skipping a piece here, re-inforcing with extra material there. Along with reminders to practice more, I have tried to make it fun- games, masterclasses, supplemental Christmas music.
But by far, the biggest challenge has been trying to teach my own children to play the piano. To those who say I shouldn’t have tried, I have to answer perhaps they are right.
Due to the unique personalities and learning styles of my offspring they wouldn’t or couldn’t bend to my instruction, at least not the way I taught. Learn these scales, I would repeat week after week. Do this study, then you will have a good foundation for other music. Read these notes, I instruct, pointing slowly with a popsicle stick.
Instead of practicing, my children would noodle around on the piano, composing their own music or attempting pieces that were far too advanced for their technique and fingering ability. They played by ear or learned by rote, things I am not gifted in. With steel traps for memory, they only utilized the notes only once or twice before they had it, at least to their satisfaction. If I played it for them, there was little need for notes at all, so mostly I refused and so did they, at least to complete what I assigned them. Sometimes they would even improvise on the classics before properly learning them. Eeek. That was the sound of Beethoven rolling over in his grave.
Finally… true confessions.. . I regret to say, I had to give up. Too many fights, too many gray hairs. Two of them went on for a while to other teachers in my efforts to ensure the musical part of their education. Yes, I rank it right up there with learning to read and do math.
In spite of my abortive efforts they all play something- the oldest the drums, the second oldest classical guitar and piano, but almost exclusively Bach inventions and fugues, which I labour over and he delights in. The third plays saxophone and forayed briefly into jazz piano.
The fact is they were just too smart for me and my Piano Teacher Degree.
After a few years break, I am still working on teaching my daughter- trying to strike a balance between what she wants to learn- Legend of Zelda music, and how she wants to learn- by ear, and the foundational stuff I want her to know- note reading, correct technique. “I don’t want to play from lifeless notes,” she says. What success will eventually look like and how we will get there, I don’t know, but I hope she will love music as her brothers do.
If I am forced to give up for the sake of the music, I will have to face it. Or maybe just change my ideals.
The failure of this teacher may well be the road to success for the student.