Sunday, 24 June 2012

A Writer's Privilege

We, as writers, have the power to change our world for the better. I pin my colours to the mast in my blog biography, when I explain why I write:


I write because I believe that words have great power: they can bring comfort, joy and hope. They can reveal secrets and lies. And, while they may not change the world, they can - at their best - change people's lives, even if only for a moment.


I've long made it clear that I believe writers must use their creative gifts with thought and care for the impact those words have on the world they are released into. 


 Elaine Scarry discusses the ethical power of literature in her brilliant Boston Review article "Injury and the Ethics of Reading"


And I've had a lot to say about the power of words in the following articles:

The Prerogative of the Harlot

What responsibility does a writer have?

Why are movies so depressing these days?


If I've said so much about it, why am I repeating myself?


A while ago I came across a blog (can't remember where, sorry!), which had a link to the great William Faulkner's Nobel Banquet Speech in 1949. Today I was tidying out my desk drawers and found the printed speech. I wept at the beauty of the words. And I realised that, all those years ago, Faulkner put into the most beautiful words what I've been struggling to say for years (that's why he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, I suppose!) 

 The whole speech on the Nobel Prize website is worth reading, but here are my favourite excerpts:


"... the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

... He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
... I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. 
... the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."
I rest my case.  And I'll continue to strive to write stories that, I hope, uplift and inspire people to change their inner worlds and, through that sea change, make the external world a better place.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

a Lamp at Midday

I'm delighted to announce that the paperback edition of my debut collection of poetry a Lamp at Midday is now available for sale at Amazon.com.


As many of you know, the last 18 months have been somewhat stressful as my adored Dad's health continued to deteriorate. I had no time to work on my planned new novel, so I fed my Muse by writing poetry.


This collection is the result and, along with poems on a variety of topics, includes some poems to my Dad that you've seen before on this blog.  But these are not only poems about my Dad. The official blurb is: 

"Containing a wide selection of poems, a Lamp at Midday gives voice to the contrasts and contradictions of modern life. As they challenge complex emotions and explore timeless themes, these poems also have relevance for the reader’s own life. This personal collection of poems is a vivid celebration of one woman's spiritual questioning and earthly existence, speaking with a haunting intensity of life, loss and love. "

Here are some of my personal favourites from the Haiku section in  a Lamp at Midday:


flames
skipping skywards so
fast, burnt orange warmth can turn
to red inferno. 

forget-me-nots 
above the sea of
brightly coloured petals i
wave farewell to you.
halloween
a field of golden
round pumpkins, ripe and ready,
basks in the sunshine.

lightning
suddenly the sky
is furious, and lets loose
a finger of fire.

giraffes 
long necks undulate. 
gentle eyes and jigsaw coats
crown a setting sun.


No book is completed without the help of others. 

As always, my dear writing friends (Debs, Leonie, Janet, LvW) were there to cheer me on when I faltered and fell into deep fits of angst about this work.

Angela Voges of Typographica Manuscript brought her excellent editing skills and insightful comments to the text, while the multi-talented author Michelle Davidson Argyle created the beautiful cover.

And, last but not least,  without the faith and support of my family - in particular my wonderful husband Beric and my incredible Mom, Dawn Heinemann - I'd never write anything at all.

The paperback copy will be available at South African on-line stores from around middle August 2012, which is the same time that the eBook will be available for sale. 

I'll be running giveaways on GoodReads and LibraryThing, so if you want a chance at winning a free copy, keep an eye out for my tweets and Facebook announcements.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Have you ever wanted to BREAKAWAY?


If you like novels bridging the gap between young adult and adult, you don’t want to miss out on The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle. Author Zoe Winters calls this contemporary novel, “Lush, literary, and multi-layered.” Author Karen Amanda Hooper says it is, “A total mind-bender that will leave you breathless.”
Let's hear what Michelle herself has to say about The Breakaway:
Thank you so much for having me here on your blog! I’m excited as my young adult contemporary novel, The Breakaway, has been released from Rhemalda Publishing. I’ve been waiting for this for what feels like half my life—since I was around sixteen, actually. I first wrote the book when I was fifteen. It was my first novel-length work.
Do you remember back when you were seventeen going on eighteen? (If you’re seventeen now, even better!) Think about how you felt at that age. Vulnerable, maybe? Constantly self-conscious. Irritated with the adult world because you are in that gap—a place no longer for children, but it still doesn’t seem fit for an older teen preparing for adulthood, either. I remember that age, and it frightened me. Of course, back then, I was full of confidence and anger and excitement and all sorts of other emotions constantly rolling around. I was preparing to go to college, and that meant preparing for a huge change in my life.
Naomi, my main character in The Breakaway, is seventeen when she is kidnapped by the strangest criminals ever. She’s almost eighteen, about to graduate high school, and dealing with a boyfriend she thought she was in love with until he…well, until he hit her. Talk about some adult stuff coming straight at you. So, then she’s kidnapped and ripped away from all these decisions and changes. Her life suddenly revolves around survival. Instincts. Fear. Plans to escape. 
But does she want to escape?
The Breakaway revolves around that question. Naomi comes from an unloving background. Her parents are obsessed with their careers and her boyfriend is obsessed with keeping her in her place. So being “adopted” into this new family who actually cares about her (not to mention she’s falling in love with one of the younger kidnappers… ) doesn’t seem like the worst thing to happen in her life. In fact, she’s wondering if it’s a better life than before.
The Breakaway is one of those books that has haunted me since the day I started writing it. I wrote other books back then, but this is the one I kept working on over the years—until now when I can share it with the world. It’s filled with suspense, psychological tension, and a bittersweet love story. 
I’m happy to finally have The Breakaway out there after all these years. It’s truly exciting and uplifting. I hope you’ll check it out!
The Breakaway is available now! You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere else books are sold, both as an e-book and in print. Find it for a discounted price on the publisher’s website here: http://shop.rhemalda.com/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She loves the seasons, but late summer and early fall are her favorites. She adores chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in whatever time she can grab between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life.
You can find Michelle on her blog, http://theinnocentflower.blogspot.com
And now for the fun part: I'm sponsoring a FREE COPY in the format of your choice of THE BREAKAWAY to one lucky winner. All you have to do is tweet about this blogpost, or share it on Facebook, to be entered in the draw. Remember to mention my name in the tweet (@judy_croome) or in the Facebook share (Judy Croome) so that I can pick up your participation and enter your name in the draw. Or you can leave a comment here telling me that you've met the entry requirements.  ENTRIES CLOSE ON JUNE 30th, 2012, so you have plenty of time to spread the news. For every tweet or share, you will receive an extra entry into the draw for the free copy. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED - see comments for the winner.