Art of Cursive

Posted Sat, 04/03/21

Back in 2010, many schools decided to rule out the instruction of cursive handwriting. According to the New York Times: "The Common Core standards seemed to spell the end of the writing style in 2010 when they dropped requirements that the skill be taught in public elementary schools, but about two dozen states have reintroduced the practice since then." Re: Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now It's Coming Back.

I handwrite nearly every book before sitting down to type. I usually do it in stages, writing about forty pages and then typing the content (and so on and so forth until the book is completely written). In turn, the typing typically leads to more detailed scenes and dialog as I go along. It's a method that has always worked well for me, so I rarely deviate from it.

Handwriting sample from "Blood & Soul." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Print and handwriting array for "Bloodlust." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

I cannot even imagine not having the ability to write by hand. In the not so distant future, the art might become obsolete (apart from people using it to sign their names). It's a shame, really. Not only is handwriting a personal expression of the individual (a unique fingerprint, if you will), it teaches one to pay attention to detail and, in some ways, it disciplines the mind. I also believe handwriting skills lead to an inquisitive approach to reading and, more importantly, a clear understanding of the content of what one is reading.

According to The Conversation: "Beyond a nostalgia for the pre-digital age, there are good reasons why cursive handwriting needs to make a comeback. Developing fluency in printing and handwriting so that it comes automatically matters for literacy outcomes. Handwriting is also an elegant testimony to the human capacity for written literacy and an inspiring symbol of the unique power of the human voice."

Sample of calligraphy (Carlyle).

One of my dear friends has perfected her calligraphy skills into a fine art, which enabled her to open her own business (Strokes of Love). While handwriting and calligraphy are related, they are certainly not the same thing. In fact, calligraphy is officially termed as a "visual art form." And it's true. People have made careers from calligraphy (such as my friend), their skill sets desirable for elegant invitations, documents, banners, logos, plaques, signs, clothing, accessories, and much more.

Some writing individuality has been lost due to technology, of course. It's only natural as society advances into the future. However, I'm hoping the art of cursive by hand will remain an educational fixture for a long time to come.

Irish Eyes: Writing

Tags: Writing & Editing

Spring 2021 Newsletter

Posted Sun, 03/28/21

Enforced isolation over the past year (due to COVID) was not such a hardship for me. Writing lends itself to solitary stretches of creativity and is, in fact, often preferred. Quiet time alone in which to think about and construct storylines, not to mention writing them, is conducive to the process.

I never felt an all-consuming frustration with isolation, never felt constrained or ready to bolt out the door at any given moment. In truth, I was at ease with the entire situation, including communicating with friends, family, readers and business contacts via text, telephone calls and video meetings. It soon became the status quo, and I don't see it changing any time soon, regardless of what happens with the pandemic.

In other words, it has become my new normal, and I'm quite comfortable with it.

Thus begins my spring newsletter, which is now available online, and also as a PDF download.

Here are some highlights from the newsletter: 

Deborah O'Toole: Newsletter (Spring, March 2021).

~ Mind Sweeper ~

Mind Sweeper was released by Club Lighthouse Publishing on January 7, 2021. The novel is available in multiple e-book formats from Club Lighthouse, paperback and Nook editions at Barnes & Noble, and in paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon.

Front and back covers for "Mind Sweeper." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

I initially formed the storyline for Mind Sweeper in August 2007. I was watching MSNBC News on television in my house in Spokane when there was a break in regular coverage to report the Crandall Mines disaster in Utah. While the accident was tragic, within minutes the idea for Mind Sweeper began formulating in my head. I don't typically get inspiration from bad news on the tube, but this time it was different. I think I had the complete outline for my story within an hour, all jotted down on paper. Later that day, I began writing in earnest.

There is one person I'd like to thank posthumously, for without him Mind Sweeper would never have come to fruition.

My late father (Bernard "Barney" O'Toole) was a Geophysicist, and his life's work revolved around various types of mining in all parts of the world. I learned much from him about the industry. Of all my books, dedicating Mind Sweeper to him seemed the most apropos.

Thanks, Dad. :)

~ Bloodlust ~

Bloodlust (by yours truly writing as Deidre Dalton) was released by Club Lighthouse Publishing on February 26, 2021. The novel is Book #2 in the Bloodline Trilogy, and is available in multiple formats from Club Lighthouse, and in paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon.

Front and back covers for "Bloodlust" by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Bloodlust was finalized a few months prior to its publication, thanks to my editor, Palvi Sharma. I've never had children, but finishing the final draft of a book is probably the closest I'll ever come to the experience of letting go of a "child" who has reached adulthood and is ready to see the world for itself.

Once again, thanks to Terrie, Palvi and James from Club Lighthouse Publishing for their welcome input and invaluable assistance in bringing Bloodlust to fruition.

Bloodlust is not for the faint of heart, coming in at a whopping 531 pages.

~ In Progress ~

I'm now on to Blood & Soul, final part in the Bloodline Trilogy. My current goal is to have the book finished by mid-to-late Summer 2021.

Also on my roster is the desire to complete two historical essays before 2021 ends. I've always had a passion for boning-up on figures from history who catch my imagination. I want to learn all I can about them, and then set my thoughts to paper.

My essay portfolio includes Billy the Kid, Anne Boleyn, Jack the Ripper, the Loch Ness Monster and U.S. Political Parties.

Historical Essays by Deborah O'Toole

My current projects include bits about Lizzie Borden and Michael Collins. The two figures in time could not be any more different, yet that have piqued my interest for many years. Hopefully, my essays will do them justice.

~ Leisure Activities ~

BritBox TV became a firm favorite during the winter months, and will probably remain so for the long foreseeable future. I've been binging on As Time Goes By, Ballykissangel, Father Ted, Fawlty Towers, Keeping Up Appearances, Mrs. Brown's Boys, One Foot in the Grave, Rosemary & Thyme, The Good Life, To the Manor Born, Vicar of Dibley, Waiting for God, Wild Bill and Yes, Minister.

BritBox TV

Some of the other television programs (non-Britbox) that we have become avid watchers of include Britannia (Epix), The Equalizer (Queen Latifah series on CBS), His Dark Materials (HBO), Lovecraft Country (HBO), Outlander (Showtime), Pennyworth (Epix), Perry Mason (2020 HBO series), and Resident Alien (Syfy).

Fowl Excursions: Every Sunday afternoon, Jerry and I take a drive to feed a trio of stray cats near his former workplace. Then we go the short distance to a park by the FBI building in Salt Lake City, where we mingle with a large group of ducks. One afternoon in early March, a gaggle of geese stood by but never joined the fray. I wonder what they were thinking?

FBI Duckies. Click on image to view video on You Tube.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Over the past few months, I have joined several online author communities, such as Book Bub, Book Lemur, Bookshop.Org, Book Sniffer and Reedsy, among others.

Author Spotlight @ Book Lemur

In mid-November 2020, I was featured in the "Author Spotlight" at Book Lemur, which includes hundreds of author bios and related book links.

I'm happy to join all of them. :)

~ Until Next Time ~

Another newsletter will be coming in late summer/early autumn 2021.

And until next time, happy reading . . .

To read the Spring 2021 newsletter in full, click here.

Irish Eyes: Writing

Tags: Writing & Editing

Intermittent Outlines

Posted Sun, 03/21/21

Writing outlines for "books in the works" has always been abhorrent for me. I find them particularly difficult and unnecessary for the most part. However, many years ago when I worked with Raphael Serebreny from Tyborne Hill Publishers, he convinced me that doing an outline prior to writing a book would help me to keep the storyline organized. At the time I was resistant, but as my writing style grew, I finally came around to the viability of outlines even though I don't create them for every book.

I've also developed other ways to keep storylines organized over time - such as character spreadsheets and family trees, for instance - but doing an outline prior to writing has proven to be beneficial in an overall sense, especially in the early stages of creating a new story.

Outline for "Blood & Soul" by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

This has become the case for Blood & Soul, my current project. As explained in a blog entry from January 2021 (Piecemeal Scribbles), Blood & Soul is being written in "piecemeal" fashion. In other words, it is being completely written out of order. Most of the ending is complete, but the beginning through the middle still needs to be developed. To that end, I finally decided to write an outline for Blood & Soul, even at this late stage in the game. And, to be honest, it has helped.

One of the most redeeming aspects of doing an outline is the ability to change various points as needed. An outline does not dictate that the story is set in stone, especially as its being written. The ebb and flow can change at inspirational whim.

I liken it to a light bulb flash in the segment of the brain which controls fluid creativity.

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Writing & Editing

Messily Organized

Posted Sat, 03/13/21

Blood & Soul looks like a mess at the moment, but I go through this stage with every book. Notes, scenes, dialogue, references, et al.

"Blood & Soul" in the works. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

I'm not even halfway finished with Blood & Soul yet. I'm writing it in stages, some scenes fill the opening, while the ending is already imagined. Completing the final book in a trilogy requites tying-up a few loose ends and bringing the storyline to an instinctively-done conclusion.

I predict it will be a long summer, with a second notebook coming into play.

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Writing & Editing

Books & Things

Posted Thu, 03/04/21

I received my paperback copy of Bloodlust this afternoon. It's a long novel in print (531 pages), and I'm more than thrilled with the resulting front and back covers, as well as the spine. Thank you Terrie, Palvi and James at Club Lighthouse Publishing!

"Bloodlust" by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

"Bloodlust" by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

I also went ahead and assembled all of my books in print, which now total fourteen, and took a snapshot of them.

Paperback books by Deborah O'Toole. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

As I've said many times before, it never gets old to hold my own books in hand. I have yet to become jaded about it, and doubt I ever will.

And, hopefully, there will be many more books to come. :)

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Books & Reading

Loathsome Characters

Posted Sun, 02/28/21

Kendrick Lester is probably the most loathsome character I've ever created. He is a sociopathic murderer, rapist, and all-out sadist. His quirks are tracked in the Bloodline Trilogy spreadsheet, which I rarely show to anyone because it is my basic character outline during the book-writing process, but here is a glimpse.

Bloodline Trilogy spreadsheet for Kendrick Lester. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Kendrick makes his first appearance in Bloodlust. His son, Kirk, becomes the love interest of Kate Grady, who is the main character in the storyline. Kirk writes poems hinting at his horrific childhood and present life, which he in turn reads to Kate.

Bloodlust is not saturated with poems, but rather they manifest themselves during various points in the story. I wrote the handful of verse on the fly, always trying to compose them from the character's viewpoint. Here are a few of them:

"Screech & Moan" by Deborah O'Toole. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Above: "Screech & Moan." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

"The Rot in the Wood" by Deborah O'Toole. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Above: "The Rot in the Wood." Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

The poems will also appear in the upcoming collection Torn Bits & Pieces, to be released by Club Lighthouse Publishing later this year.

Irish Eyes: Torn Bits & Pieces

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy; Torn Bits & Pieces

"Bloodlust" Released

Posted Fri, 02/26/21

Bloodlust (by yours truly writing as Deidre Dalton) was released by Club Lighthouse Publishing today. The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon.

Noel and Pim's daughter Kate Grady has unusual powers which allow her to bend people to her will. At first she uses her gifts wisely, but then goes astray after falling in love with Kirk Lester. She finds herself honing her special powers to keep her place in Kirk's heart, no matter how evil or depraved life with him becomes.

Front and back covers for "Bloodlust" by Deborah O'Toole writing as Deidre Dalton. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

Bloodlust was finalized at the end of January 2021, thanks to my editor, Palvi Sharma. I've never had children, but finishing the final draft of a book is probably the closest I'll ever come to the experience of letting go of a "child" who has reached adulthood and is ready to see the world for itself.

CEO Terrie Balmer of Club Lighthouse Publishing made the following remark on my Facebook page after I added the new cover for the book, thanking her for the spectacular rendition:

You're welcome. Not for the faint of heart is so spot on, Deb. While I was proof reading it, I just got into the story and couldn't let go! That's one of the reasons I was a little late in getting it up . . . sorry. Now I can hardly wait for Book #3 (Blood & Soul).

Once again, thanks to Terrie, Palvi and James from Club Lighthouse Publishing for their welcome input and invaluable assistance in bringing Bloodlust to fruition.

Irish Eyes: The Bloodline Trilogy

Tags: Bloodline Trilogy

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