Books, Quotables

quotables: cloud of witness

Yes, yes – the mystery is all very interesting, but it’s the characters that make this book so very sparkling.  cloud of witness

Clouds of Witness

by Dorothy L. Sayers.

No decent-minded person would know how to spell ipecacuanha out of his own head.”

– page 125

“What luck! Here’s a deep, damp ditch on the other side, which I shall now proceed to fall into.”

A slithering crash proclaimed that he had carried out his intention.

– page 57

“He seemed particularly cheerio, you know,” said the Hon. Freddy.

“Particularly what?” inquired the Lord High Steward.

“Cheerio, my lord,” said Sir Wigmore, with a deprecatory bow.

“I do not know whether that is a dictionary word,” said his lordship, entering it upon his notes with meticulous exactness, “but I take it to be synonymous with cheerful.”

“May we take it that he was in exceptionally lively spirits?” suggested Counsel.

“Take it in any spirit you like,” muttered the witness, adding, more happily, “Take a peg of John Begg.”

“The deceased was particularly lively and merry when he went to bed,” said Sir Wigmore, frowning horribly.

– page 248

I think I just rambled, On Writing

tenses: a conversation with myself

I sit at my desk, frowning at my laptop screen. (Contrary to my imagination’s offering, my laptop does not glare back at me.)

“Which tense,” I ask the room, “is best for this tale?”

No one replies. I am alone. (‘Forever and ever and ever,’ chants my Muse.) My sorrows are drowned in a gulp of cold tea.

I look at my nails (the paint is chipping yet I have vast hopes that it makes me look professional and efficient. I am delusional. It does neither.) “First-person, present tense is more intimate. You really get into the character’s head. However, it’s very constrictive. At least, it is when I do it.”

(A moment is spent in resenting writers who breeze through life with marvelous ease and appalling grace.)

“What about the third-person, past tense?” Ness lent back in her chair and sent a questioning look at her soft toys. They did not answer. Ness knew crushing disappointment.

She tapped her fingers on her desk. “It’s more freeing but it can seem … dry?”

“And yet, I like using first-person point of view,” I admitted, feeling a strange mixture of guilt and pride. “But it can occasionally seem immature and childish. And yet I’ve got to choose something or this Writing Stalemate will last forever and ever and then flop horribly and die.”

(‘Like your dreams,’ said my Muse in my head.)

“All right,” Ness says, brightening. “What about a compromise? What about third-person, present tense? The best of both worlds!”

She thinks about it for a moment, but soon enough, the glorious vision collapses in on itself and she sees a stark future, trapped in a tense she doesn’t want, with a story that tramps along like a lame dog with halitosis.

“That’s it,” you say with malice and a terrible look at all your books with all their smug, perfectly written tenses. “I’m doing second-person, present tense.”

You make a cup of tea. The tea brings clarity. You frown. You flounder. “Bother!” you exclaim. “But third-person is so … and first-person could be … and … and …”

“I should just write poems,” you say, staring at the gloomy wasteland of your decaying future.

“Please don’t,” your Muse pleads.

You don’t listen. “Or to-do lists. Or telephone books. Or obituaries – it would be impossible to choose the wrong tense with those.”

Your Muse snorts. “Actually, knowing you …”

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner

Quotables

Quotables – Fascinating Work, Slaving Away and Poetical Landscapes

4921I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can’t help it.

– – –

I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.

– – –

What the eye does not see, the stomach does not get upset over

– – –

I don’t know why it should be, I am sure; but the sight of another man asleep in bed when I am up, maddens me.

– – –

It was a lovely landscape. It was idyllic, poetical, and it inspired me. I felt good and noble. I felt I didn’t want to be sinful and wicked anymore. I would come and live here, and never do any more wrong, and lead a blameless, beautiful life, and have silver hair when I got old, and all that sort of thing.

– – –

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome isn’t an ordinary book. It is a rambling, hilarious book that doesn’t perscribe to the usual story structare of a novel. It started out as a travel guide and ended up as, as … one must really read it to find out. And you can (for FREE! Public Domain, I love you) right here.

… and don’t forget …

… that while Our Intrepid Heroine isn’t in the public domain, it is waiting for you to pick up a copy right here. Think of it as a Christmas present to you.

Quotables

Murderers, Dead Bodies and Overthrowing the Government – Quotables

I went to America … and read twelve books of the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters (as you do). I wrote down several amusing quotations. (I would be sitting in a chair and giggling. Yes, people noticed. No, I didn’t mind. My humour was tickled, you see, and when my humour is tickled nothing short of a giggle or a smile will do to indulge it,)

Lion in the Valley (Amelia Peabody, #4)Ordinarily I would agree with your premise, Peabody – that there cannot be many individuals in Egypt who yearn to make off with Ramses – but I have learned to my sorrow, we seem to attract criminals as a dog attracts fleas. I should feel hurt if we had fewer than five or six murderers after us.

– Lion in the Valley

Abdullah clapped his hand to his brow. “Not a dead man, sitt. Not another dead man … ” A flicker of reviving hope returned to his stricken brow. “Is it a mummy you mean, sitt? An old man?”

– Lion in the Valley

… and the same commentator remarked, “It is the Sitt Hakim. No doubt she will cut off the man’s arm,” to which his companion replied eagerly, “Lean back so that I can see better”

– also Lion in the Valley.

“Well, of course,” Emerson said virtuously. “That is my method. Tact, subtle persuasion.”

“Such as calling Mr Budge a rascal and threatening to knock him flat?”8268480

– Hippopotamus Pool

If all else fails, we will simply have to drug our attendants, overpower the guards, raise the oppressed peasants to arms and take over the government

– The Last Camel Died at Noon

I greatly enjoyed reading some of this series. If you are looking for a husband-and-wife archaeologist/mystery-solvin’ team that has plenty of wit and action and a fair dose of history (the author had a PhD in Egyptology after all) then check these books out. And you don’t even need to travel half-way across the world to read them. Like me. If you fancy reading the ebook version, the entire series is £0.77 per book on Amazon, so it isn’t dear at all.

Is there objectionable content? One of the things that marred my reading of the later books was the occasional use of Christ’s name as a swear word which for me, as a Christian, is blasphemous and jarring. But the character who uses it (to illustrate his new maturity? Adulthood? Je ne sais pas) … just,  read one of the earlier books in the series, when he is just a wee laddie. Next to William Brown (of Just William fame), he is my new Favourite Fictional Child. The End.

Books, Quotables

Quotables – Write Until the Cogs Mesh

Stormy Petrel

From experience, I knew what to do. Write. Write anything. Bad sentences, meaningless sentences, anything to get the mind fixed again to that sheet of paper and oblivious of the ‘real’ world. Write until the words begin to make sense, the cogs mesh, the wheels start to turn, the creaking movement quickens and becomes a smooth, oiled run and then, with luck, exhaustion will be forgotten, and the real writing will begin.

– Mary Stewart, Stormy Patrol