A Slice of Orange


NOELLE GREENE: What Did Tolstoy Know About Women?

December 1, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

“If you want a writer who understood his characters, look at Tolstoy,” my Dad said. “You’ve read War and Peace, haven’t you?”

I choked.

“Anna Karenina?”

Um, saw the movie. Downer ending, right?

The following week, a heavy box arrived from Amazon, a lovely new edition of Anna Karenina nestled inside.

It’s 817 pages, okay? Before the footnotes. But it’s brand-new and sits on my nightstand reproachfully. And I am curious. How did Leo Tolstoy understand characters?

I suspect this is where the term “tough sledding” originated. If slogging through the landscape of nineteenth century Russian literature isn’t tough sledding, what is?

I’m quite happy to leave literary analysis to the English majors. But now that I’m all of 10% into the book (did I mention the small type?), a couple of things are apparent about Tolstoy. And I’m starting to get it.

He writes from at least seven points of view (so far) in Anna Karenina and head-hops within scenes like crazy. But it works. His empathy for both men and women is all the more striking when you see that he holds someone in contempt or dislike. While deep in a point of view, he subtly gives the person plenty of rope. By then you understand the character so well that you don’t want him to hang himself.

Tolstoy wrote dialogue and introspection almost tenderly. Not necessarily nicely, but genuinely from that character’s point of view. Shades of gray are all over the place, figuratively speaking.

He had a genius for describing ordinary people’s emotions. The following passage describes how a heartbroken girl witnesses dashing Vronsky falling for older, married Anna:

She saw that they felt themselves alone in this crowded ballroom. And on Vronsky’s face, always so firm and independent, she saw that expression of lostness and obedience that had so struck her, like the expression of an intelligent dog when it feels guilty.

Can’t you just see Vronsky? It’s that uncanny ability to capture the essence of a moment that will keep me reading. I already know how it ends.

By Noelle Greene

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November 22, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

A zillion years ago, when I was first married, my husband and I started a Thanksgiving tradition. Instead of spending the holiday with extended family, whom we see at other holidays, we decided to hold our own potluck event for friends and occasionally random (friendly) strangers.

Over the course of nearly three decades, the attendance has risen and fallen – as high as twenty-five, as low as seven – and people have arrived, moved away and sometimes moved back. There’s been at least one minister, whose family was out of town, and several elderly guests from my husband’s church; numerous Jewish friends and I’m sure our share of atheists. We’ve watched our friends’ children grow up and have produced two sons ourselves, the elder of whom is now in college.

My husband, who rarely cooks, prepares the turkey and stuffing. I shop, make the gravy and mashed potatoes, and provide incidentals such as rolls and cranberry sauce.

Looking back, I recall memorable guests and moments. My older son’s first Thanksgiving, being passed from guest to guest. Friends from the Associated Press, where I used to work, including the then-science writer, who donned an apron and washed dishes afterwards.

The food varies each year, although some regulars have developed their own niche. Our older son’s best friend from preschool – now in college – and his family bring pies. One Chinese-American family prepares Chinese food; another prefers to fix sweet potatoes. Sometimes there are two fruit salads, or two types of stuffing, or extra mashed potatoes. Of course, we enjoy the leftovers!

Next fall, our younger son starts college. We hope that, like his brother, he’ll always come home for the holidays. There’s nothing like greeting old friends, making new ones, and enjoying a changing assortment of food.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Jackie Diamond Hyman writing as Jacqueline Diamond
The Doctor’s Little Secret, Harlequin American Romance, February 2007
Daddy Protector, Harlequin American Romance, May 2007
Twin Surprise, Harlequin American Romance, September 2007

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Maureen Child – Too Many Stories, Not Enough Time!

November 6, 2006 by in category Interviews tagged as

With more than 90 novels (one of which was turned into a movie) and multiple RITA nominations, Maureen Child is a mega-talented author on her way to the top. If you ask her, she’ll tell you she owes it to stubborn determination. If you ask me, she owes it to her quick wit too.

To see why, see her complete OCC Interview in November’s Orange Blossom.

Q – You’ve written as Ann Carberry, Sarah Hart and Kathleen Kane. Will the real Maureen Child please stand up?

A – Standing now—oops, you can’t see me. Ah, pseudonyms are a lovely little thing about writing. You can recreate yourself in dozens of ways. Just take a new name and write something completely different!

Q – What led you to take on so many different pseudonums?

A – I write fast. Always have. When I started, I was writing six or seven western historicals a year. My publisher at the time was Berkley, and the decision was made to take a pseudonym so I could get more releases out a year. Two under each name worked well for me. Then I started writing different things. Historical paranormals under the name Kathleen Kane, western adventures under Ann Carberry and one terrific Angel book under Sarah Hart.

Q – Do you write under any pseudonyms now? If so, what? Why?

A – Not at the moment. Silhouette Desire feeds my fast writing habit and they’re willing to bring out lots of books every year under my own name, so it’s easier to be me these days and simply answer to one name.

Q – You write category as well as single title. What do you love about writing categories that you don’t get from writing single titles?

A – I love category. They’re fast paced and well-told stories condensed into half the page count of a single title. They’re fascinating to write and always a challenge, which I love.

Q – What do you love about writing single titles that you don’t get from writing categories?

A – There, I can do more POV’s, go deeper into emotional conflict, take the plot further. There’s more room to explore. So luckily, I get the best of both worlds.

Q – Do you ever run out of ideas? If so, how did you get past that?

A – I read. All the time. In all different genres. I’ve always got a book going. I watch movies, TV shows, listen to music—country music especially, there’s a story in every song, I swear. Go to the mall. People watch. Wonder about the guy in the plaid shorts with the dark socks. Is he undercover? Is he lost? Why?

Q – Which is the favorite of your books? Why?

A – I still love This Time For Keeps. The heroine was GREAT and the whole situation was fabulous. Contemporary woman dies and instead of being reincarnated forward, she’s sent back. To the old west. Where she has to face the man who’s been the cause of her death in her last eight lifetimes. I had a blast writing that book.

Q – What’s the best advice you ever received?

A – My father always told me, “You can be anything you want to be if you’re willing to work for it.”

Q – What do you know now that you wish you’d known then, as a first-time author and/or unpublished writer?

A – When I was brand new and knew nothing, my first agent called to tell me that an editor was interested in my book but she wanted me to add 10,000 words. This is something I did not understand and said, WHY? The story’s complete as is. And this agent said, Okey-dokey, I’ll tell her. So, if I knew then what I know now, I’d have sold my first book two years earlier than I did.

Q – What three words describe you?

A – Another hard one. How do you judge something like that about yourself? I just can’t do it. (laughing) Okay, I cheated. I asked some friends your question and they said talented, generous and funny. But I prefer cranky, neurotic and clueless!

Q – What is the one thing you’ve never been asked, but you wish someone would?

A – “Would you mind moving your limo? It’s in my way.”

And don’t miss her latest, Eternally, out now. When asked which is Maureen’s favorite of her heroes, she said:

“Kieran MacIntyre, the hero of Eternally, my first Silhouette Nocturne, out this November. He’s old world (died while serving Mary, Queen of Scots) and though his heroine makes him insane, he’s stalwart and honest and honorable and willing to risk all for his sense of honor. Loved him.” Find out more about Maureen Child at www.maureenchild.com

Dana Diamond is the OCC/RWA Secretary, a columnist for OCC’s award-winning newsletter Orange Blossom, a contributor to A Slice Of Orange, and hard at work on her next book.For past interviews visit the Orange Blossom section of OCC’s award-winning website.

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October 31, 2006 by in category Archives tagged as

Caption This! has been a success due to the hard work of OCC’s own Michele Cwiertny It was Michele that sorted through the OCC scrapbook, took digital pictures of the old photos, loaded them onto the computer, optimized them and sent them to me (Jen Apodaca) to put up on the blog. Michele managed to do all this despite her computer having a major break down!

Michele holds a BA in English with a focus on Creative Writing, she is the Co-Editor of the award-winning Orange Blossom Newsletter and a contributor to The Writer’s Vibe. In addition to all this, she takes time away from working on her books to help out with A Slice of Orange!


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