Passing the Blog Hop Torch

Celebration HouseAnnette DrakeBone Girl

After experiencing a few technical difficulties, here’s our next stop in the new-author blog hop: a visit with Annette Drake, a warm-hearted writer who has had the energy, the talent and the grit to tackle some tough topics in two very different novels – and already she’s tying up her third. Here’s her bio:

Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
Her second novel, Bone Girl, was published in March by Baskethound Books. Celebration House, her debut novel, was published last August in e-book format for readers everywhere by Tirgearr Publishing. Meanwhile, she’s hard at work revising her contemporary romance, A Year with Geno, scheduled to be released on summer solstice, June 21st.
The mother of four children, Annette makes her home in eastern Washington. She is a member of the Inland Northwest Writers Guild and Spokane Authors & Self Publishers. Annette loves libraries, lame horses, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.

1. How did you receive the first inspiration to write your books? Do you envision random scenes and work outwards in both directions, or do stories come to you chronologically?

I write all of my books scene by scene, then I piece them together. Undoubtedly, this is not the smartest way to write a novel, but it’s working for now. I cannot write linearly. I get stuck. Instead, I see a scene in my mind or the characters whisper in my ear, and then I let my fingers fly across the keyboard. Kind of sounds like mental illness, doesn’t it?
As for the first inspiration, I’ve been telling and listening to stories all of my life. I remember making up songs about the American Civil War when I was seven years old. When my first short story was published in my middle-school newspaper, I was famous. For all of 15 minutes. I’ve dreamed of writing novels ever since then, but making a living and raising four children permits procrastination.
Last year, I found myself suddenly unemployed, and so I focused on finishing Celebration House. Much to my joy, Tirgearr Publishing offered me a contract. I said yes, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since.

2. What role does research play in your writing? How did researching Celebration House differ from researching Bone Girl?

Yikes! They’re both such different books.
In Celebration House, I used a lot of my work experience as a registered nurse in a cath lab at a hospital in Seattle. In fact, that’s where the idea first originated. There was always down time between cases and while talking to an older gentleman, I was struck by how disabling his cardiac disease was. This patient told me that all he had the strength to do each day was take a shower. That was it. That was his day.
Growing up, I watched my parents and grandparents restore a house in my hometown of Brookfield, Missouri. Some of the scenes, including the wallpaper scraping, were a part of my childhood. Of course, it wasn’t as glamorous as I made it out to be in the book. I researched Greek Revival architecture, but the layout of Stratton House is basically the home my family restored.
I lived near Kansas City when I attended nursing school, so when I visited my family, I would take Hwy. 24 home. Every trip, I drove past this brick antebellum house and every year, I watched as it fell into greater disrepair. And I thought, how amazing would it be to restore that house and open it as a place for weddings or class reunions? These ideas collided, and after many years, Celebration House was built.
For Bone Girl, I wrote about things I had never experienced. I met with endurance riders and horse trainers. I read and reread the book, Endurance 101. I sat in on beginning band classes at my daughter’s middle school. I took any opportunity that came my way to dive into my subject matter. Also, I have some unique Google searches on my browser history. My favorite: what are the symptoms of a meth user? I didn’t know. I’ve never been in that situation.
For me, Bone Girl is all about the characters. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent talking and listening to the people who live in that book. They are real to me. And honestly, that connection with Josey and her father pushed me, drove me, to finish and self-publish this book. I think people need to hear Josey’s story. She is the most amazing protagonist. I took literally everything away from her, and still she triumphed. That’s a powerful lesson.

3. How did it happen that you found an overseas publisher? What insights can you share about helping a publisher to take favorable notice of one’s work?

I saw an article about Tirgearr Publishing on a website called SheWrites.com. They were one of several publishers I queried after finishing Celebration House, and I chose to accept their contract. That was a year ago this month.
Tirgearr Publishing gave life to my dream of selling my first book, and I’m grateful. They’ve been a voice of encouragement and continue to be so.
But I have since joined the ranks of indie authors. I think that’s a better fit for my personality, i.e. control freak and worrier. I want to choose the covers for my books. I want to know how well or not well my books are selling. For me, even if the financial rewards never come, self-publishing is the best path. It allows me to write the books I want or perhaps need to write.
A year ago, when a member of my critique group suggested I self-publish, I felt offended. I thought, doesn’t she think my writing is good enough? Now, having perused the blogs of Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey, I’m sold on self-publishing. I’ll never write another query letter again. But every author gets to choose, and that’s as it should be.

Thank you, Annette, for holding high the torch, and illuminating the path to becoming an author! We all wish you well, and look forward to filling our bookshelves with your works! ~ Christine Plouvier

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Getting My Head Examined

It’s about time, too! you’re thinking.*

If your window faces West,
You’d better close the blind,
‘Cause I can look out my back door
Due East, and read your mind!

Be that as it may … this afternoon, I completed a second interview as a research subject, for a dissertation by a PhD student at Ball State University. The study is entitled Pursuing a Dream at Midlife: Self-Direction of Writers with Their First Published Novel. Themes that were identified in the first interview included:

  • Experience of Writing
  • Meaning of Writing
  • Experience of Self-Publishing
  • Learning That Occurred

The Principal Investigator also told me that the transcript of our first interview ran to 60 pages (I just don’t know when to shut up). It’ll be interesting to see how this all comes together at the end of the study.

©2000, 2014 by Christine Plouvier

the phrenologist

*Now, don’t deny it. I can hear everything you’re thinking – especially if you’ve got male pattern baldness. What! Didn’t you know? That high, domed forehead transmits brain waves from the frontal lobes, broadcasting them like the focused beam of a biosonar echolocation click train modulated by the melon of a sperm whale, porpoise or killer whale!

;)

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All You Need Is Love

Illustrations ©1929, Saalfield Publishing Co.

Illustrations ©1929, Saalfield Publishing Co.

As the author of a Romance novel, and inspired by the question posed by smilingldsgirl: Never Fall in Love? I’ll begin by analyzing Dickens’s character, Ebenezer Scrooge, using the four Greek definitions of love: storge, eros, philia and agape.

Scrooge lost storge at an early age, upon his mother’s death and from his father’s emotional withdrawal, and later, upon the death of his younger sister (mother of his nephew, Fred). He also rejected the storge offered by his nephew. Scrooge retreated from eros when he failed to contract and consummate a marriage with the only woman in whom he’d ever had a romantic interest. He developed an anemic sort of philia with his sole business partner, Marley, who also predeceased him. Scrooge did not develop agape until he had the equivalent of a near-death experience, after which he also became a philanthropist, and developed storge for his nephew and nephew’s wife.

Young Scrooge receives storge from his sister, Fan.

Young Scrooge receives storge from his sister, Fan.

But a resumption of eros didn’t enter the picture: Dickens avoided going there by giving Scrooge an advanced age, enabling readers to assume that it’s too late for libido to return to his life. It’s a false assumption, though, as studies of human sexuality have shown. Old age in males is no bar to successful copulation or procreation (even erectile dysfunction does not prevent orgasm), and geriatric gentlemen need not become sugar daddies to young trophy wives, in order to do this: many women retain their fertility for much longer than the average “childbearing age” range of 15-45 years; post-menopausal libidinal increases have been noted; and there’s a lot of nodding and winking in Hollywood about “cougars” and their boy-toys.

The popular expectation is that individuals of any age who lack one of the aspects of love in their lives ought to be able to successfully sublimate their unrequited feelings in a compensatory increase in one or more of the other expressions of love. This expectation is especially true of eros, which, because of its nature, suffers from being relegated to the remote ends of the continuum of sexual activity: either inhibition (as in the puzzling protocols of “polite” behavior, such as the prohibitive prudery about underwear that’s paired with the permissible public nudity of swimwear), or else flagrant promiscuity (including prostitution and pornography).

Old Scrooge rejects storge from his nephew, Fred.

Old Scrooge rejects storge from his nephew, Fred.

What is the nature of eros that subjects it to such extremes of expression? The answer lies in the chemical reactions and electrical potential of the human nervous system. Nerve function depends on the relative proportions of the sodium and potassium ions in the fluids inside and outside of nerve cells, mediated by the “sodium-potassium pump.” An electrical potential builds up, and then is discharged (kind of like lightning). Depending on the organs served by the nerves in question, the result of the discharge can be anything from muscular action to thought.

In the human reproductive system, the buildup of electrical potential causes the discomfort of sexual tension (“lust”), and the secretion of neurotransmitters that stimulate “seeking” behavior (engendering emotions such as “falling in love”) directed towards finding opportunities to discharge that physical discomfort. When nervous electrical discharge finally occurs, the result is the relief of orgasm, and the secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones that stimulate bonding behavior (engendering emotions such as contentment and commitment).

Scrooge in his prime rejects eros with Belle.

Scrooge in his prime retreats from eros with Belle.

The purpose of this folderol is to serve the biological survival imperative, the success of which the social construct of marriage also is meant to promote and protect. But the electrical discharge resulting from sexual behavior results in the most intense pleasure the body can feel: a function intended by Nature to improve the chances of reproduction by frequent repetition of the experience, the powerful sensations of which can be intimidating or addictive to the human psyche – hence the extremes of sexual repression or prurience.

So, laboring under the suspicion that behavior that’s so much fun must be somehow selfish, society expects persons who lack a legally and morally sanctioned sexual partner to overcome the self-indulgence of eros, and find equal contentment by engaging in a different sort of love – preferably agape. But is this realistic? The electrical potential of nerves that supply the musculoskeletal system can be discharged by the work of building houses for the indigent or digging wells for the under-served, and one can get a few good nights’ rest afterwards, but that sort of exertion has no effect on the nerves that serve the reproductive system.

Old Scrooge develops agape and philia for Cratchit.

Old Scrooge develops agape and philia for Cratchit.

What happens when the sodium-potassium pump below the belt begins to feel the pressure of unused hormones and neurotransmitters? At best, emotional emptiness or some heartache. Sometimes Nature effects physical release by means of a spontaneous discharge, or sufferers may feel enough discomfort to induce relief by themselves. In the worst cases, forced celibacy and continence can push some persons over the brink, into ineffective individual coping that becomes addictive, and may involve victimization of other persons. As with other forms of emotional deprivation, going without romantic love may be hazardous to one’s mental health.

For many years, premature babies were isolated from all human contact except for the treatments that kept them alive, in the mistaken belief that touching them caused “sensory overload” that upset the babies and caused brain bleeds. But the brain bleeds continued, and many of those who did not die still failed to thrive, surviving with massive physical and intellectual impairments. It wasn’t until clinicians understood that it wasn’t touching that killed these kids, it was because the only touch they experienced always involved a painful procedure. After “kangaroo care” was adopted, more premature babies not only survived, but also began to thrive.

xmascarol_Page_6Astronauts who spent lengthy tours of duty in space stations experienced comfort simply from touching the live plants they grew for experiments. Elderly persons, whether living alone or institutionalized, can suffer intensely from the lack of touch. Irish Firebrands, a Contemporary Romance that is also Boomer Lit, deals with this problem of aging. Other sub-genres of Romantic Fiction provide vicarious love experiences that are sometimes ridiculed for being “tear jerkers,” but they serve a valuable function because stress hormones are expelled in tears. Even if you don’t read Romance, and don’t like hugging or being hugged, you must get a minimum amount of caring physical contact, in order to cope effectively with the stress of life. Love is all you need.

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Blog Award

liebster-blog-awards-2Phantomwriter143 at Inkcouragement has tagged me for the “Liebster Award.” Details can be found on my Ephemera page. I’m not sure I can find many qualifying bloggers who are willing to participate, but here are my answers to the assigned questions, which all have to do with the writing process:

1. What kind of music do you like to listen to while writing, if any at all?
It’s always instrumental (lyrics derail my train of creative thought), and sometimes it’s one track for several hours at a time. I also have music playing when I sleep. When I was writing Irish Firebrands, it was Irish trad, soundtracks and classical. For The Passions of Patriots, so far it’s mostly Wagner’s operatic accompaniments, some Beethoven, and a few soundtracks.
2. What is it about writing that keeps you going, even when you’re not sure you want to continue?
Now that I’m disabled, writing is the only creative outlet that I have left.
3. Who is your favourite author?
Any author who loves language, commands an advanced vocabulary, and isn’t afraid to use it, will have my business.
4. What genre do you read, but swear you’ll never write?
If I wouldn’t write in a genre, I wouldn’t be interested in reading it, either. Actually, my answer is the reverse: I wrote Irish Firebrands in the Romance genre, which I don’t read.
5. What do you do when you tell yourself something along the lines of ‘I’ll only procrastinate a little bit longer’?
I check deadlines to see how much leeway I have. I know how long it takes me to do things, so it’s easy to tell if I’m in the green zone, the yellow zone, or the red zone.
6. What brings you right into a writing mood, and how do you keep it that way?
Re-reading my current work-in-progress. There’s always some editing to do, even if I’m temporarily short on new material to write. I’m an “organic” writer (or, a “pantser”), so writer’s block doesn’t exist, for me.
7. Favourite series, and favourite stand alone?
I don’t read series, although a few of the books I like enough to re-read have had one sequel. Probably my all-time favorite is The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas.
8. Have you ever seriously screwed up your sleeping schedule because of a book? Was it worth it, and what were you reading?
Of course I have, and of course it was, and it’s happened so often, I can’t put a finger on any particular title, but because I’m currently engaged in research for my historical novel, I’ll go out on a limb and say the last one might have been one of Siegfried Sassoon’s novels.
9. What do you do to remember those ideas you come up with when you’re not able to write?
I use what I call a “paper brain,” meaning that I write longhand notes on whatever scrap of paper is handy at the time, for future reference.
10. Are there any books or series that you thought were great, and then the ending just ruined everything for you?
In my experience, a story that ends that badly usually gives advance warning, because it exhibits serious writing flaws throughout the book, so the end isn’t a surprise. There have been too many of those to count.
11. Why do you write?
Writing is my calling, now. When I was in my early twenties, a wise old man admonished me to develop my writing skills, so that I would increase my influence for good in the world. During the next thirty years, I wrote a lot of non-fiction: mainly research papers (while I was earning my undergraduate and graduate degrees), plus two self-help manuals and some crochet patterns published in two craft magazines. I started writing fiction five years ago. Now the occupation I list on my income tax return is “independent writer,” although I’m nowhere near the break-even point.

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Poll: Recipes from Irish Firebrands

There are about 20 distinct dishes and drinks mentioned in Irish Firebrands. Which recipes would you be interested in trying? (All recipes will be gluten-free.)

Thank You for participating!

reduce-reuse-recyclePlease Reblog

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Novel Nibbles & Celtic Connections

My middle son, who is a classically-trained chef, recently came home with an addition to his cookbook collection.

Proust - cookbook

1979 ed., Thames & Hudson, publishers. Don’t you love that eye-popping cover?

I learned from the cookbook that Marcel Proust was a French writer whose massive novels often digressed into detailed accounts of gastronomic delights.

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust, 1871-1922

Since I’m half French, this explained a lot about my writing – especially the 591 references to food that can be found in Irish Firebrands. It also explains how I could be so consumed by the need to produce an epic-length Irish novel, when I have no Irish ancestry. It’s my Continental Celtic (Gallic) connection.

Dying_Gaul

The Dying Gaul. Capitoline Museum.

(Irish Firebrands also features an episode relating to a torc, such as the one depicted in the sculpture.)

640px-Dying_Gaul_Musei_Capitolini_MC747576px-Dying_GaulDSCF6738

“Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres,” Caesar wrote in De Bello Gallico

So far, the Irish Firebrands adventure has been divided into four parts: Scent, Sight, Sound, and Savor. I didn’t provide any samples of the last, in my post about eating, so here’s a genuine Irish recipe from Chapter 6: champ. You’ll need enough potatoes to feed two; a handful of long, green scallions, finely chopped; just enough milk to heat the chopped scallions; and several tablespoons of real butter (firm), cut into chunks, to push down into the middle of each serving.

Dillon had never joined his wife in the kitchen – and now he wondered why, for he found it pleasurable to stand beside Lana, watching and working with her. Her movements round the kitchen seemed almost choreographed in their grace and timing.
He saw that she finished peeling and chopping the potatoes just as a stewpot of water came to a boil. The potatoes went into the pot; she set the timer on the cooker, and then took milk and scallions out of the fridge. She measured the milk into a saucepan, and washed and minced the scallions, finishing just as the timer rang. The onions went into the saucepan of milk on another hob and she reset the timer. When it rang again, the vegetables were cooked. She shut off the heat under the scallions; then she drained the potatoes and set them back on the hob to dry while she retrieved butter from the fridge, and rummaged in a drawer for a potato mace and a wooden spoon.
“So, where did you learn to make champ?” Dillon said.
Lana shook the potatoes around in the pot. “This is my first try. I’d had it at a pub, so I knew what it was, and I went to the library and found a recipe online.”
“You’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make a treat for me.”
She began to crush the potatoes. “It’s a treat for me, too. I like mashed potatoes, but without an electric beater I don’t have the stamina to get ’em as smooth as I like ’em.” She poured the scallions and milk into the potatoes; then she smiled and handed him the wooden spoon. “Here’s where you get to earn your keep!”

©2012 by Christine Plouvier.

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Do Easter Bunnies Blog Hop?

320px-Wild_rabbit_us320px-Wild_rabbit_us2Maybe they do. From my window, I can see some big, FAT rabbits frolicking in my back yard.

 

Author Angela Misri invited me to join a blog hop. I’m still searching for some new published authors to participate (it’s kind of like an Easter Egg hunt), but for now, here are my answers to Angela’s questions:

Question 1: Tell us about the character Dillon Carroll – who is he and where did he come from in your imagination?

Answer: Oh, gee! I don’t know where Dillon came from. One day I had the inside of my head to myself, and the next day, there he was, unpacking his kit. Dillon is a celebrity journalist and political pundit who is in the latter part of a lengthy career, and whose routine becomes a rout after he encounters an American baby-boomer genealogist, camping at his ancestral farm in one of the Gaeilge-speaking areas of Ireland. I’m what’s called a “pantser” writer, meaning that I don’t outline or “plot,” so everything that happened to Dillon was a complete surprise to me. He’s one of several characters in Irish Firebrands who carry some serious psychological baggage into relationships that can only get worse before they get better.

Question 2: Your background is so varied and interesting – can you share an anecdote from your years in military intelligence?

Answer: Yikes! Ask me an easy one. My last duty station was at the National Security Agency. Contrary to popular belief, NSA really isn’t very interested in little people like you and me. I worked in a large room with no windows, many desks, and a huge world map mounted on one long wall, which was covered with black draperies when anyone whose security clearance was inadequate needed to enter the room. My job had to do with drawing charts and graphs about submarine activity, using colored pencils. The men who worked that desk would throw away the pencils when they were only half ground down, and when I would come on watch, I’d fish the pencils out of the burn bag in the waste basket, and take them home. By the time I got out of the service and started my family, I had a coffee can full of colored pencils that were just the right size for little kids to use: Spy pencils that got a new lease on life, decorating coloring books.

Question 3: The Passions of Patriots sounds incredible – what can you tell us about that story you are developing? When can we expect in print?

Answer: Oh, wow. Another hard one. The idea for The Passions of Patriots came from a scene in Chapter 30 of Irish Firebrands, when Dillon Carroll learns that his grandfather was in the British Army. The story is partly about Dillon’s paternal grandparents, and their struggles to survive the tumultuous years of the early 20th century, in Ireland and in Europe. The other main character is a young Bavarian whom Dillon’s grandfather meets on the Western Front. I have most of the interpersonal stuff and about half of the First World War stuff roughed out, but I still have all of the Irish history part to do, so I’m afraid it’s going to be a while yet, before it sees the light of day. (I write epic-length books.) But I’m almost ready to start a dedicated blog for The Passions of Patriots. Right now it’s piggybacking on the Irish Firebrands blog.

 ***

NEWSFLASH! Author Annette Drake will be joining the blog hop!

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Which of These Books Have You Read?

(Comment in “Light A Fire Here”)

shunmagdalenetranslatorsunsnarcissusbredenun's storykeysthe cardinalo the brave musicrobepeony

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Fire Burne, and Cauldron Bubble

Fillet of a Fenny Snake,
In the Cauldron boyle and bake:
Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frogge,
Wooll of Bat, and Tongue of Dogge:
Adders Forke, and Blinde-wormes Sting,
Lizards legge, and Howlets wing:
For a Charme of powrefull trouble,
Like a Hell-broth, boyle and bubble.

~ Wm. Shakespeare. Macbeth, Act. IV, Scene I

Sound tasty? Well, it’s not likely to make it to the menu of your favorite fast food franchise any time soon, but it may have helped to make Macbeth a hit.

According to The Better Novel Project, the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series are best-sellers in part because they include references to food. In the genres to which those books belong, food is thought to be symbolic of important aspects of the story: maturity, desperation, abundance, danger, sacrifice, magic, humanity, survival and friendship.

Irish Firebrands crosses a half-dozen genre lines, but it was written within the general framework of a contemporary romance. A such, its primary focus is the development of a “Happily Ever After” relationship. There are several secondary relationships, too. So, of all the functions listed above, friendship is likely to be the fundamental category of food symbolism in Irish Firebrands. We should then expect to see the important characters bonding over the breakfast table.

And boy, do they ever. It’s no wonder that two of them express concerns about love handles and middle-age spread – there are at least 591 references to food, cooking or eating. There are 41 food references in Chapter 6, alone. Even after weeding out the duplicates and plurals in each chapter, there are at least 333 unique references to food and/or what happens to it as it moves from farm to fork. There are even a few easy recipes within the text.

What’s more, this feast takes place throughout the book – of 34 chapters, in only two of them do characters fail to break bread: Chapter 28, which immediately follows an episode of major conflict, and the only two references to food are metaphorical; and Chapter 32, which is part of the “Black Moment” experience for the main characters, when there’s no reference at all to food.

So, according to the food-in-fiction hypothesis, at the rate that folks in Irish Firebrands are giving their taste buds a workout, the book ought to become a best-seller; nevertheless, there’s no cause to be alarmed for your own waistline. All that novel-noshing takes place in only about 0.295 percent of an approximately 200,000-word book. And if you get it in paperback, it weighs about 1 ¾ lb, so just think of all the lean muscle mass you’ll develop, every time you heft your copy.

Don’t pump iron – pump Irish Firebrands!

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The Sounds of Silence

Wullenweber Circularly Disposed Antenna Array, near Augsburg, Germany

Wullenweber Circularly Disposed Antenna Array, near Augsburg, Germany

The majority of the first 125 incidents of sound (other than the more than 90 that were about making or mentioning music) that I found in Irish Firebrands, had something to do with silence, they were paired with peacefulness (preceding it and/or following it), they had to do with trying to keep quiet, or they attempted to fill a felt void associated with silence.

  1. Curiosity overcame his chariness – but he counted the stairs as he climbed, so he could finesse the treads that squeaked.
  2. He turned the china doorknob slowly, to keep the mechanism from rattling, and he raised the door a bit, to keep the old hinges from squeaking.
  3. Only the tick of the cooling cylinder block broke the stillness as the night faded….
  4. Kneeling beside it, he raised the lid with infinite care to prevent the old hinges from squeaking.
  5. She turned the china knob slowly to prevent the mechanism from rattling, and lifted up a little on the handle to prevent the old hinges from squeaking.
  6. The rain had stopped, and the silence was broken only by the courtship of crickets in the garden outside the window.
  7. Dillon was a quiet man, but today she couldn’t even detect the click of his keyboard –
  8. Bone-weary after a deafening day of jet travel from central Asia, he decided to head for the peaceful country town he called home. He’d unwind over some quick pub grub and a pint at his local, and then settle into his little flat for a quiet night and a long lie-in tomorrow.
  9. He crouched before the stove door, rotated the handle with silent expertise and peered into the firebox.
  10. Silent eternities seemed to elapse.
  11. The silence discomfited her.
  12. They worked in sociable silence …
  13. The chime of the antique clock in the parlour broke the silence.
  14. The whisper of paper filled the air as the kids leafed through their scriptures, and then silence settled over the room while they read.
  15. The teenagers digested that in silence.
  16. He found a fork, and they ate in silence for a few minutes.
  17. Then she read silently for a few moments.
  18. Then Regan’s bawl shattered the silence.
  19. His humble sincerity shamed her into silence.
  20. Silence reigned while Dillon searched her face … and then he sighed.
  21. He stood silently by the table, looking out the window with his hands in his pockets.
  22. He didn’t move … didn’t speak … she couldn’t even hear him breathe. Seeing him this subdued was as unsettling as his emotional outbursts had been. At length, she could bear the silence no longer.
  23. His distress over these discoveries had broken the silence of the night,
  24. but in the silence, the downpour outdoors was echoed by the despair that deluged her heart.
  25. With trembling fingers she timidly tapped at the communicating door – then, terrified by the silence, she turned the knob.
  26. Silence fell between them again … then Dillon cleared his throat.
  27. Silence … then he said, “So, it’s still … ‘not yet’?”
  28. Frank’s praise almost made up for Dillon’s silence about the jar she’d left outside his door….
  29. The two stood there for a long, silent moment, looking into one another’s eyes …
  30. he piloted the pickup in grim silence across the Boyne and through a massive stone barbican,
  31. In the easy silence that coupled their conversations, the thud of falling fruit was clearly audible.
  32. … and again the lonely little boy in the cubicle at the industrial school silently cried himself to sleep.
  33. The silent seconds shambled on … had he gone too far?
  34. until, with only twenty-four hours to go, the ring tone of Dillon’s phone shattered the brittle silence that filled the farmhouse.
  35. Guilt drove her to break the silence.
  36. The two forms contemplated one another silently for a moment …
  37. He drove in silence to town, where he locked the bike to the railing outside Sweeney’s shop and put the key in the letter box.
  38. In the silence that followed, Dillon realised that he’d been holding his breath.
  39. The silence was broken only by the odd animal noise – often quite entertaining – that erupted from pre-verbal infants.
  40. The clock in the parlour ticked ominously in the silence.
  41. There was a protracted silence. When at last he spoke, his voice bristled with suspicion.
  42. Silence … then he said, “Adopting?
  43. Eilish wept silently until Lana finished speaking.
  44. Dillon passed a rough weekend, pent up in a silent flat that clamoured with confused emotions.
  45. Only the counterpoint of his panting and her sobs broke the silence.
  46. Only once did the silence break.
  47. Then, to her dismay, he silently went to the door.
  48. In the following silence, she heard the parlour clock strike three quarters.
  49. And in the silence, Dillon completed the covenant:
  50. A mechanical humming invaded the pastoral peace.
  51. Dillon stepped into the bedroom and quietly closed the door.
  52. It had been very quiet in the flat since the rain had stopped – far too quiet.
  53. Normally she didn’t mind being out in dirty weather – she fancied herself a bit of a storm petrel, in that respect – but a sullen sky quietly incontinent in leaden streams was not the sort of storm she cared to be in.
  54. It was so quiet that she could hear the clock ticking indoors.
  55. Upon her return, the rest of the day passed quietly enough with nary an archaeologist in sight.
  56. Dillon had installed himself in the big bedroom, and after tea time all Lana heard from him was the click of a computer keyboard. She went about her evening routine, which included a quiet hour of crocheting before the fire –
  57. After the disturbance over the torc and a fabulous excursion to England, Drumcarroll was too quiet.
  58. After the furore over the torc and a delightful excursion to England, the flat over Conlon’s shop was too quiet.
  59. She’d spent all evening messing up motifs and unpicking them, and she kept dropping her aluminum crochet hook, which hit the hardwood floorboards with a clatter that rang startlingly in the quiet house.
  60. The pub was peaceful enough, there being no Wednesday trad session, and Geary being an old-fashioned publican who eschewed a telly on his premises.
  61. After a few more quiet moments, he returned the paper to his pocket and rose to his feet.
  62. “I’m going to find someplace quiet where I can ring for reservations, or we won’t get any supper.”
  63. they’d go back to England … and then there’d be no more coming home to an empty flat … nor eating lonely meals … nor lying alone in a cold, quiet bed….
  64. After a couple of quiet kilometres, he said,
  65. It was so quiet that she could hear a bell on one of Seán Murtagh’s sheep, grazing a quarter of a mile away.
  66. “Is this truck running on autopilot?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “You’re awfully quiet.”
  67. He quietly stood by while she showed her passport and obtained her boarding card,
  68. Now he pondered Mo’s quiet fortitude….
  69. “This is the dads’ chance to attend a conference session without having to take out fussy infants – but the downside is that it’s so quiet, you could fall asleep!”
  70. Alone in the quiet apartment, she’d been transported into another world:
  71. She calmed down and lay quietly for a few minutes with closed eyes.
  72. The echoes faded, and in the late-night small-town quiet that descended upon the street, she could hear someone draw a deep breath – and then let it out as a sigh.
  73. “Goodnight, Lana,” Dillon said gently, and he quietly closed the door between them.
  74. She could no longer abide the deathlike stillness that pervaded the farmhouse – it seemed like a coffin awaiting burial.
  75. The calm that enabled the fog to linger intensified the rural stillness and amplified the slightest sound – even the drip of condensation from twigs in the hedgerow seemed loud. Lana paused at a roundabout to listen for unseen traffic … but only heard the lowing of a distant cow.

You may have noticed that a few of the actions on these lists seem to have been repeated. They were – but by a different character, so I counted each one separately. I can’t explain why, without issuing a “spoiler alert,” although readers who have the book (or a 51% preview copy) will have twigged what’s going on, by now. Suffice it to say that there was a reason….

©2012 by Christine Plouvier

Arecibo_Observatory_Aerial_View

Arecibo Observatory Radio Telescope, Puerto Rico

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