Archive for the ‘About Writing’ Category

“Fools and Mortals” by Bernard Cornwell

November 8, 2017

via Book Corner: Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

I’m a huge fan of Cornwell (currently reading his “Last Kingdom” series), and my WIP (work in progress) is called “The Shakespeares and the Crown”, so I am very excited to read his version of Will’s story. Cornwell’s a great storyteller, and I hope to glean a couple of lessons from his work.

Advertisements

John Shakspear’s (Shakespeare) Contribution to Art (and Catholicism)

February 6, 2017

http://hyperallergic.com/344523/saved-by-shakespeares-father-a-series-of-medieval-murals-is-finally-restored/

The above article proves that John Shakspear (as he spelled his name), then an official in the borough of Statford upon Avon, was a dedicated Catholic who defied the dictates of the new Protestant regime in England. Rather than destroy the artwork in the church, he had whitewash painted over. This evidence helps to prove my contentions about John, and then William, in my upcoming novel “The Shakespeares and the Crown”.

Essay ‘beta readers’ Wanted!

December 17, 2016

I have written an essay for Notting Hill Editions, a prestigious British essay publishing company. I would really love a couple of beta readers to give me feedback.
shakespeareThe title is “Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’: A Warning to Elizabeth?” The thesis is that the play was much more of a political message than a simple love story. Including the bibliography (which you can ignore!), it’s 7,000 words, or about 15 pages. Please let me know if you might be interested. Thanks!

You can email me at donmakerauthor@gmail.com

Tribute to Tolstoy

September 9, 2016

I read “War and Peace” a few centuries ago (it seems), but I had no idea Tolstoy wrote essays on pacifism and philosophy that greatly influenced Ghandi and King, Jr.! Always interesting to learn more about great writers. Thanks to Abbie Lu for blogging this.tolstoy

(Click on the link, then on the ensuing link for her blog.)

“We can know only that we know nothing.”

Source: Tribute to Tolstoy

Plot Arcs

September 8, 2016

I’m not a great fan of ‘formulaic writing’, but this is a very good analysis of the basic structure of all fiction.

STORY STRUCTURE: The 5 Key Turning Points of All Successful Screenplays

A Great Article on Promoting Science to Children!

July 29, 2016

This article, from the Indiana Writers’ Conference, was near and dear to my heart! I tried to use the same techniques, especially humor and research to make certain the science was accurate, in my YA novel “Miranda’s Magic”. I think it’s great that other writers are using fiction to promote an understanding and love of science in children.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

To Instill Love of Earth Sciences in Younger Minds

by Hardarshan S. Valia

From my nascent days of schooling in the small town of Chindwara, India, I’ve marveled at the colorful canvas of rocks displaying flow of highly colored minerals. I was lucky enough to follow my passion of the Earth’s history through schooling into my work place at Inland Steel (now Arcelor Mittal) R&D Laboratories, East Chicago, Indiana. My professional life was dedicated to studying carbon usage in the steel industry. There, I studied with amazement the magical formation of colorful carbon forms during the coal-to-coke carbonization process. To an untrained eye, coal and coke are dirty-looking materials. But looking under an optical microscope, seeing how the organic entities in coal melt into nematic liquid crystals that come closer and seem to talk to each other as they coalesce into a beautiful entity called coke, one falls in love with nature’s wonder. It is this intoxicating interaction with science that I wanted to share with others.

No, no, I did not run like Archimedes shouting, “Eureka!” because the coal-to-coke carbonization phenomenon had been observed for years, but I started to go to nearby schools to help children see the beauty of earth materials that I saw and continue to see. My work travels had taken me to many parts of the world where I would take every opportunity to amass my collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Like a folk storyteller, armed with my earth wares and wealth of stories, I would sing the Song of Earth and tell stories of Earth’s Evolution to children who, in my biased opinion, loved it very much. After the end of class, they were allowed to handle the specimens and make their own observations. Those years of telling tales finally ended up in my taking on a project of writing a book where my protagonist describes the evolution of life through various geologic times.

There are four points I consider in writing for children to make Geology/Earth Science attractive to them.

1) Make it scientifically correct.

Stories/films are frequently endowed with creative licenses; the brain evolves and knowledge-hungry children are able to sort out facts from fiction. This means, yes, there is a role for Science Fiction for children in an effort to ignite the “What If” moment. However, misconception should not be created when writing science genre for children. Presentation of scientific facts must be based on what we currently understand as valid science. In my story, some characters are fantastical but the science of Earth’s history is accurate.

2) Show large scale geologic phenomenon in simple form.

Example:

To show that Mountains are formed when rocks are folded or uplifted, I show them an actual slab of Marble from China where a layer of Iron-rich brown/black mineral is folded into mini-mountains amidst the backdrop of white marble.

3) Connect the unknown to the known

Example:

To show that two organisms probably evolved from a common ancestor, I show them a large rock slab that contains two straight shelled Orthoceras and three coiled shelled Ammonite fossil types of Cephalopod fossils from the Atlas Mountain Range of Southern Morocco (See Figure 2).

The fossils are from the Devonian age (359-416 million years ago). I connect them to the current relatives of Cephalopod as follows:

4) Anthropomorphism and humor are effective techniques

Example:

To make it interesting in my story, I portray how my protagonist is drowning due to turbulence in the ocean and is rescued by a cephalopod who grabs the protagonist and provides shelter in its chamber. To give interest to my fossil character, I make them talk and exhibit all ranges of anthropomorphism.

Here is a scene in my story when the protagonist first meets a Mastodon before the start of the ice age.

“Sunny, why do you carry that trunk?” I wanted to know.

“I was the Sheppard for the Pigsty family. I used my trunk as a rope to encircle smaller pigsty.” He spoke as a stand-up comedian with a serious look on his face.

“Come on, that’s not the real reason.” I knew that he was kidding around.

“I was a circus acrobat. I used my trunk to swing from the high rope,” he said seriously.

“Oh, really!” I wanted to tease him. “Show us your great swings on this tree!” I pointed to a large tree trunk before me.

“That tree won’t take my weight. I need a big tree.” He knew fully well there was no tree in sight that would support his weight.

“Come on! I need to know now. Why do you carry that trunk?” I was getting impatient.

“O.K., O.K., Small Doodle!” That is the name he used for me whenever he showed affection. Then he continued, “A big body needs big hands, a big mouth, and a big stomach so our noses and upper lips became elongated, resembling a hand-like feature, allowing us to pick up food from the ground or pluck leaves from the trees.” He said the entire thing in one breath.

“Very interesting!” I exclaimed. His explanation made perfect sense. I marveled at nature’s evolutionary processes.

This approach is how I disseminate the beauty and the science of Earth through story telling and writing to those well on their passageway from childhood to adulthood.

__________

Hardarshan S. Valia has published stories, essays, and poems in magazines such as: Huffington Post, NWI Times, Urthona, Hub, Bitterroot, Iron & Steel Technology, Sikhnet, Sikhchic, and Sikh Review. A story entitled “India…ana” will be published in a book entitled “Undeniably Indiana” by Indiana University Press in August 2016. During his tenure as Staff Scientist at Inland Steel (now Arcelor Mittal) R&D Laboratories, East Chicago, he contributed mostly to science journals and science books. He is married and has two children. He is a member of Indiana Writers’ Consortium, Magic Hour Writers Group, Write on Hoosiers and SCBWI.

Posted by Indiana Writers’ Consortium at 12:00 AM No comments:

Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

Labels: Hardarshan S. Valia, writing for children

A New Interview of Me and My Work

July 24, 2016

My latest interview, as posted by Maria Grace on her blogsite. Please give it a read, and see some of her other interviews of interesting writers. Cheers!

Writing Superheroes: Don Maker

Some Very Different Writing for Me

June 19, 2016

I have published four novels now, most of them historical fiction. So this is something very different for me.

In high school and throughout college, I acted in many school and community theater plays. I also minored in psychology in college. So I decided to combine those two disciplines. SIGI AND CARL explores the questions that plague most of us: Have we done something truly meaningful with our life? Will we leave a legacy? This surrealistic play responds through the life and relationships of Sigmund Freud, with Carl Jung as his major counter-point. Guest figures include Hamlet, Albert Einstein, Anna Freud, and Melanie Klein.

SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS, please note: I am happy to provide text copies at no charge if you would like to read in class or produce any or all of this play. As an educator, I wish to promote knowledge as well as creative thinking.

If you have time, please give this a look.

https://www.amazon.com/Sigi-Carl-Play-Three-Acts-ebook/dp/B01GT3Q5YQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466304510&sr=8-1&keywords=sigi+and+carl

I’ve Been Interviewed!

June 5, 2016

Annie Whitehead, an award-winning historical fiction writer and a member of the Historical Fiction Society, was kind enough to interview me for her blog.

http://anniewhitehead2.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/from-charlemagne-to-shakespeare-and.html

Part 3: “Romeo and Juliet” as a Warning to Elizabeth.

January 26, 2016

The last part to my essay explaining why Shakespeare may have had a much deeper message for Queen Elizabeth concerning her rule over her Catholic and Protestant subjects than writing a simple play about love and death.

A Couple of Other References from the Play


Although this is somewhat of a non-sequitur for this essay, it is not surprising to me that in his poem “Queen Mab”, Percy Bysshe Shelley channels the wild, chaotic sense of independence of Mercutio in his famous speech to Romeo. I think Shelley picked up on many of the religious questions in Mercutio’s speech and used them as a springboard for his atheistic arguments. Needless to say, I do not think Shakespeare was being any worse than a trifle irreligious, as he was criticizing the (to him) senseless battle between the two Christian sects, and not Christianity itself.

Then, the play essentially ends with these lines from the prince:

“And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish’d.”

As a writer, I wonder why the prince also lost a couple of kinsmen. As a moral tale for the reason stated in his prologue, it would seem that Mercutio might better have been related to Romeo, say his brother or first cousin, than the prince, because it would have been more of a family tragedy if all of the deaths had been to members of the family. For that matter, if Paris had to die to heighten the dramatic irony, he could have been a cousin to Juliet, as those marriages were quite common in that society. Such relationships would have heightened the grievous loss to the families as a result of their ridiculous feud. For me, it adds no dramatic tension that the prince lost relatives as a result of a limited feud between two families, no matter how rich and powerful they were in his city.

However, as a political statement, it makes perfect sense to me. Rather than being limited to the proverbial “others”, the ruler of this little fiefdom suffers personal loss from the violent bickering going on under his jurisdiction and control. As I understand this play, this message is a direct appeal to Elizabeth to stop the persecution and bloodshed amongst her subjects and her own “relatives”, whether or not those were actual blood relatives. As the prince says, all are being punished.

Juliet’s Famous Line

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Act II, scene 2)

A wonderful pun, I believe. There are many metaphors he could have used, but I think Shakespeare is referring back to the War of the Roses, the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. When the followers of Mary of Scots rebelled against Elizabeth, they wore a red cross, while the Protestant followers of Elizabeth wore a white cross. Later, the Tudor rose was combined with a red outer rose and a white inner one.


Juliet is, of course, asking why Romeo had to have been born a Montague, as they were at odds with the Capulets. She may as well have been asking why he had been born, say, a Catholic instead of a Protestant, as both were good Christian faiths, and as sweet as any other religion.

A Note on Sonnet 29

There have been many interpretations of this poem. I will also speculate on its meaning, more as a writer than as a scholar.

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee-and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Sonnet 29 is a member of the “Fair Youth” sequence, in which the poet supposedly expresses his love towards a young man. This is one of the poems that led some scholars to believe Shakespeare was homosexual, or that someone else wrote the poems. However, I don’t even necessarily believe the poem alludes to anyone other than the author himself. Yes, the ending definitely sounds like a love poem, but why those specific analogies? The use of the pronoun “one” in the line “wishing me like to one more rich in hope” could simply be a use of the generic, especially given the line “desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope”, which would imply that the author is simply regretting his own circumstances and wishing he could have the best traits of certain other people.

There exists an interpretation that Shakespeare was despondent after having recently been severely criticized for his work by fellow playwright Robert Greene, and that would seem to make a lot more sense to me than homosexuality. However, I get a different reading given all of the other evidence I have presented in this essay.

A poet always writes from his/her own background and experiences, and often uses thoughts and observances from their past as metaphors for other things. I do not know enough about William Shakespeare’s early life to clearly evaluate why he is “in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” nor has fallen into an “outcast state”. Perhaps it is because he had been forced to leave school and seek his fortune without the aid of a father who was fairly wealthy and influential. Or is he actually alluding to John, whom he may have perceived as despairing about having fallen totally out of favor in Elizabethan society because he would not renounce his papist beliefs?

In my mind, the fact that someone’s love is a tonic to the writer is quite secondary in this poem to the despair that is much more completely described. The phrase “then I scorn to change my state with kings” was certainly common enough, especially in a society under a monarchy, to simply be a descriptive metaphor for personal values. However, it may actually have been a direct allusion to the Queen, claiming that the Crown could not heap such disgrace and poverty on Shakespeare as to make him lose all pride and sense of inner worth. In either case, there is a definite sense of “rising above” the adversity caused by having somehow become a societal outcast that would be consistent with resentment at how Elizabeth treated devout Catholics.

Conclusion

In the first place, Romeo and Juliet is not a simple love story, even if read as a piece of literature rather than a political statement. The main topic is actually uncontrolled passions, as the hatred expressed in the play is equally as violent as the love portrayed. The choices that are made by all of the characters — certainly not least by the nurse and the friar — lead to the inevitable deaths of the two young lovers. As in life, not everyone can control the fate of a nation, but each person has control over their own choices to act or not to act, to do good or to do evil. Religious persecution cannot exist without the masses condoning and even participating in the emotional and physical actions of persecution, or, as on the part of many of the Catholics, the attempts to overthrow or assassinate Elizabeth. When seen in the context of the historical and political realities of Elizabethan England, Romeo and Juliet is a true masterpiece of subtle messages.