All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Writer. Gemologist. Artisan Jeweler.

Writing Spaces: Hallway Secretary Home Office

Hallway Secretary Home Office

This home office inspirational image is from “Better Than Ever”, This Old House magazine, April 2003.

This lovely tiger maple secretary with the glazed windows and old-fashioned cubbies caught my eye. The writing space is small, it is one that you would need to do your writing either in a paper notebook or via a laptop or tablet, but the cabinet has deep storage drawers for hanging files on the bottom and display cabinets on the top that make it quite functional. It rests in a room, off of a hallway adding value to a small space. The clean lines of the space are very appealing and when not in use, you could close the secretary to hide whatever clutter develops there.

Would you be comfortable writing in this space? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: To Kill A Mocking Bird

Book Name: To Kill A Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
First Published: 1960

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She studied at Monroe County High School, where she became interested in English literature. She then enrolled in Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

She is best known for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Similar to the book’s character Scout, the young Harper Lee was a tomboy who observed racism in her small town in Alabama. Her father was a lawyer who once defended two black men accused of killing a white man but the two black men were later executed. Dill was based on Lee’s friend Truman Capote.

She began her writing career with several long stories. With the help of the editor Tay Hohoff, she spent two and a half years rewriting the draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel was published on July 11, 1960 and quickly became a critically-acclaimed bestseller. In 1961, it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and in 1999 was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in Library Journal’s poll.

Lee has done few interviews or public appearances since publishing To Kill a Mockingbird. She has not published another novel. She worked on a second novel, titled The Long Goodbye, but did not finish it. In the mid-1980s, she began writing a nonfiction book about an Alabama serial murderer but also filed it away unfinished. She was, however, satisfied with her book’s Oscar-winning screenplay adaptation by Horton Foote. During the filming, she became good friends with Gregory Peck, who won an Academy Award for portraying Atticus Finch.

On November 5, 2007, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush. This is the highest award in the United States for civilians, awarded to people with outstanding contribution to culture, world peace, security, and national interests.

In a 2011 interview, Lee’s close friend, Rev. Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, shared what Lee told him as the reason why she never wrote again, “Two reasons: one, I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again.”

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch is a middle-aged lawyer and a widower who lives in Depression-era Maycomb, Alabama. He has two children, six-year-old Scout and her older brother Jem. The two children are terrified of their reclusive neighbor Arthur “Boo” Radley, yet they are also intrigued by him. Together with Dill, a boy who stays with his aunt in Maycomb during the summer, they obsess about Boo’s appearance and how they can lure him outside, despite Atticus’ warning to leave the man alone. The children sometimes find gifts in a tree near Boo’s house but never see him.

One day, Atticus takes on the case of a black man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping and beating up a white woman named Mayella Ewell. Most of the people of Maycomb believe that Tom is guilty and are beginning to resent the attorney for defending him. Scout and Jem are harassed at school because of their father’s actions. Their father tells them not to fight with the other children but it becomes hard for tomboy Scout and even the more levelheaded Jem to not lose their tempers.

Atticus stands up to a lynch mob out to kill Tom and the mob disperses after the children shame them. The lawyer does not want his children to attend the trial but they are able to, sitting in the area designated for black people. In the trial, Atticus is able to prove that Tom could not have beaten up and raped Mayella because of his crippled hand. It becomes clear that the lonely Mayella made advances toward Tom. Nevertheless, Tom is convicted, making Atticus’ two kids realize their town’s prejudice against people of color, even in a court where truth is supposed to win over bias. Soon after the trial, Tom gets shot and killed for attempting to escape while in prison. Tom’s conviction and his death shake the Finch family’s confidence in justice.

To Kill A Mockingbird Book CoverMy first exposure to this novel was via required reading in secondary school. I was taken by the book, not only due to the literary themes, but because the story was told by a little girl that was not much younger than myself at the time. I was a tomboy like Scout and I could feel what she felt as events happened in the story. I also felt a great deal of admiration for Atticus Finch. In many ways, this character has become my role model for courage and justice. I have enjoyed seeing the Oscar winning film starring Gregory Peck and highly recommend seeing it if you have not done so.

Ms. Lee has been in the news as of late. She is an elderly woman that was in need of funds to pay for her medical care and was in a legal battle over the royalties from her single best-selling book in order to find the money to pay for her doctors. I understand she has had some success with her suit and I certainly wish her all the best and a peaceful life.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThis week, I was focused on reading writing tips and most of the articles I’ve linked to are of this variety. I also popped in a few about how to handle social media as an author. I hope you find them to be useful.

How to Avoid Cliches (or The 4 Things You MUST Know Before Starting A Novel)

How to Use Backstory to Keep Readers Reading

3 GREAT RESOURCES FOR POWERING THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK

Top 10 Things All Memoir Writers Need To Pay Attention To

Five Great Writing Resources Worth Paying For

The Crash: Braving Your Second Draft

One Thing Authors Shouldn’t Leave Out of A Story’s “Big Moment”

Is Being a Good Writer Important?

Social Marketing: The One Thing You Should Never Do

A list of writing prompts

Cover Reveal: The Curate’s Brother

The Curate s Brother Book Cover

I am a huge Jane Austen fan. Of her six novels, my favorite is undoubtedly Persuasion. It is the story of love gone awry and a second chance at love between a Baronet’s daughter and a young naval captain during the Napoleonic war time period. In my short story, The Curate’s Brother, I tell of how Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth meet through the eyes of Edward Wentworth, the Curate of Monkford. You could consider this short story as a prequel to the original novel Persuasion.

The Curate’s Brother will be available via Amazon on September 26, 2014. If you are one of the many fans Jane Austen’s work, and the myriad of variation stories based on her novels, The Curate’s Brother will be sure to appeal to you.

For more information about Jane Austen, click to my book review of her novel Persuasion.

Author Interview: Rhett C. Bruno

Rhett Bruno is a science fiction/fantasy author who puts an emphasis on developing unique characters within their world. I’d like to welcome him to the readers of No Wasted Ink.

Author Rhett C. Bruno​I’m Rhett Bruno. I grew up on Long Island and have been writing since before I was young. Ever since I was little I to creating worlds or stories. At first it was with toys and games, then drawing, but by High School I dedicated myself entirely to writing. I just found that it was something I was better at than drawings. It has always been something I do on the side, however. During the day I practice architecture in westchester county, ever since I graduated from the Syracuse University School of Architecture.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself I writer when I got offers ​from small presses to publish The Circuit: Executor Rising.” So only recently. I don’t think I really improved as a writer until I started reading a ton of books in order to study science fiction. It was always something I ​had to do. It calmed me and left me satisfied.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My books is an adult science fiction novel published by Mundania Press. It is set in a grim future where the Earth has fallen and humanity now lives in contained settlements throughout our solar system (A place humans have begun to call The Circuit). Grass, trees and other animals are a rarity. The story is fast-paced, explosive, and revolves around four characters whose lives are intertwined because of the actions of Cassius Vale, the enigmatic former council member of the New Earth Tribune.

What inspired you to write this book?

My initial inspiration came from watching classic science fiction movies/shows like Star Wars and Star Trek and noticing how artificial gravity is just kind of an accepted technology. After doing some research I found out just how far-off most of the theories are and came up with the idea of us finding a new element (Gravitum) deep in the Earth that gives us the ability. When I was thinking up the story I wanted the notion that human curiosity has repercussions to be prevalent and so that was when I decided that the mining of Gravitum would be what unsettled the fragile nature of our homeworld. While that is never directly stated in this novel, it is intended to be implied. Everything else sort of evolved around that idea of Earth being a shackle that humanity is bound to even after they evolve beyond the planet’s surface.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t think so. I think it’s constantly evolving. I used to focus a lot more on description, but I wanted The Circuit to move along at a brisker pace. I always hoped it would be something perfect to read during a train commute to work. Fitting since the history of the Circuit is based upon large-scale, public transportation.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The series name has been set in stone since before I even started the first chapter. Something about The Circuit resonated with me after I decided to name the setting the Kepler Circuit (After 17th century astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler). Executor Rising, another of my novels, took a little longer to come up with. When I submitted the book to publishers the subtitle was Progeny of Vale, but since there are really four main character it felt unfair to have one of their names in the title. Executor is a position within the New Earth Tribune that plays a large role in the first novel. When I thought of it I immediately told my publisher to update the contract. It was so obvious that I don’t knew how I didn’t think of it sooner.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think there are plenty of messages about humanity sprinkled throughout the series, but I really want the readers to each have a unique experience in their reading of it. I want them to take out of it whatever they feel. I guess if I had to pick any message it would be about the dangers of curiosity; that there are repercussions for everything that is done in the name of it.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Actually no. I tried my best to disappear into the world and craft all the characters around their own experiences.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

More than anyone Robert E. Howard. His Conan stories are unbelievable, and there is so much energy in his writing that it is a shame he was taken so early in his life. Other writers I hold in high esteem are Tomothy Zahn and Frank Herbert. The way they balance multiple characters and multiple perspectives is masterful. I didn’t really know if it was something that could be done effectively until I read their work.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

I guess it would be Robert E Howard. Only because his stories were the first that I really ate up. I wanted to write with the same vigor that he had, and hopefully one day I’ll get close!

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Adam Day. He was a close friend at college and really is an amazing artist. I wanted to work with someone I knew to design an original cover that I could really be proud of and I trusted him to do an awesome job. Personally I think he exceeded my expectations.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Same as you’ll see anywhere else. Keep writing. Also, make sure you get feedback from other people. It’s so easy to get lost in your own little world as you work that you forget you’re writing for other people. So you have to get opinions and read other similar work to really start to understand what the public may actually enjoy.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I guess it would be to give my book a try and really give it an honest review. I went to Architecture School so I know how vital constructive criticism can be to get better at anything. So if you don’t like my book, and you actually read it front to back, let me know why!

The_Circuit__Executor_Rising Book CoverRhett C. Bruno
White Plains, NY

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Cover Artist: Adam T. Day
Mundania Press

The Circuit: Executor Rising
AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE
KOBO