Friday, February 27, 2009

"Young Goodman Brown" versus "Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?"



By Nana Podungge

This paper will compare Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you going? Where have you been?” Hawthorne’s story belongs to the Romantic Period while Oates’ belongs to the Postmodern Period. First, I will analyze the story one by one. After that, I will elaborate the similarities and the differences I found in the two stories.

In “Young Goodman Brown”, the main character—Brown—left his wife whom he married just for three months, to do an “errand” to the forest. There, he met a so-called fifty-year-old man who took him to a certain place in the forest where there would be an ‘ordination’ and Brown would be ordained to be one of the members of the man’s congregation. Brown—the descendant of “a race of honest men and good Christians” (Baym, 1989: 1112)—in fact felt insecure to follow that old man, because he thought that the congregation in the forest were the followers of the devil. He regarded the old man whom he first met in the forest as the devil. Nevertheless, he did not go back to his village. Instead, he continued following the old man. His curiosity about what he would find in the forest is bigger than his feeling insecure to follow the devil.

Besides feeling insecure, Brown also felt sinful because following the devil in a dangerous place. it is understandable because he considered forests a place where devils and satans meet each other. Therefore, Brown was shocked when he found Goody Cloyse, a very pious woman in his village who taught him his catechism. Feeling worried that Goody Cloyse would see him following the devil in the forest (he was worried that the pious woman would consider him as a devil follower, and not a pious man any longer), Brown tried to hide. He felt more shocked when he also found other pious people from his village in the same forest where he was; such as the minister and Deacon Gookin. Those people were going into the same direction with him. Brown’s feelings—insecure, guilty, sinful, and also curious—were mixed together, and he asked himself what those pious people were doing in the place full of devils.

Going farther into the forest, Brown met more people—one of them was Faith, his wife whom he left at home and who objected to his going to the forest. Not only pious and honorable people did Brown see there, he also saw “men of dissolute lives and women of spotted fame, wretches, given over to all mean and filthy vice, suspected even of horrid crimes” (Baym, 1989: 1117). Those good and bad people were in the same place to attend the ordination. The congregation would ordain Brown and Faith to be the members. However, before they were ordained—Brown tried not to follow the order of the leader of the ordination ceremony, and tried to oppose it, suddenly everything was gone. “Hardly had he spoken, when he found himself amid calm night and solitude” (Baym, 1989: 1119).

Even though the story was written in the Romantic period, Hawthorne chose the setting in the Puritan era. He wanted to criticize Puritan people’s way of thinking that in this world there are only two kinds of people, good people who are perfectly pious, and bad people who are perfectly sinners. People must fall into one of the two categories. Through the main character, Brown, Hawthorne showed the confusion inside a young man about the two categories of people. How could pious people socialize with bad ones and they gathered in one place which was considered devilish—the forest. In the Puritan era, people considered the forest a dangerous place because it was full of devils and satans.

I conclude that Hawthorne wanted to convey a message that the Puritan philosophy about the two categories of people is wrong. No one is perfectly pious, nor is a perfect sinner. People have both good and bad sides in them. It is just natural for someone who is considered pious to do something bad. A wicked criminal can also have good side in him/her. Therefore, Hawthorne ended the story by describing Brown—an example of a puritan man who thought that someone must be either perfectly pious or perfect sinner—underwent unhappy life and lived restlessly until the end of his life because he could not understand what he found in one episode of his life.

In “Where are you going? Where have you been?” which was written in 1966, Oates tells a story of a fifteen-year-old girl named Connie. Though Connie did not really seem to feel happy at home—she always had problems with her mother who always compared her with her older sister, June, Connie seemed to enjoy her life outside home. Her parents let her go with her girl friends to a shopping plaza which was located three miles away from her house. There, Connie and her friends walked through the stores and went to a movie. Some other time, they went to a drive-in restaurant. Some other time again, Connie was riding in a car with a boy.

So did Connie’s life go on. At home, she had to confront her mother whom she thought had a jealous feeling toward her because of her good look—her mother used to be good-looking too but now it has gone. Besides, being always compared with her elder sister, Connie might suffer from “second child syndrome”. June did this, June did that, she saved money and helped clean the house and cooked and Connie couldn’t do a thing (p. 226). Outside home, Connie enjoyed her life with her friends.

Connie’s life changed when one Sunday, she was left alone at home—her parents and sister went to a barbeque at an aunt’s house. Two boys—strangers—went to her house and asked her to go for a ride with them. For Connie, they were strangers. For the two boys—especially one of them named Arnold Friend—Connie was not a stranger. Actually Connie has met Arnold one night in town when she was in Eddie’s car. “… and just at that moment she happened to glance at a face just a few feet from hers. It was a boy with shaggy black hair, in a convertible jalopy painted gold. He stared at her and then his lips widened into a grin.” (p. 228) However, Connie did not remember that. While Arnold always remembered that event, and tried to find out about anything related to Connie since then. No wonder, Arnold came at the “right time” when Connie was left alone at home.

Arnold at first persuaded Connie somewhat politely. He assured her that he was a friend who just wanted to take her for a ride. I believe that Arnold regarded Connie as a girl who liked going for a ride in a boy’s car when he saw her in Eddie’s, a kind of “cheap” girl who easily got flattered by a boy’s smooth talk. However, Arnold was wrong. In fact, Connie was “a hard girl to handle”. She even asked him and Ellie—Arnold’s friend to go away. It made Arnold angry.

Arnold kept forcing Connie to go with him. He showed Connie his “supra natural” ability to see something which happens in another place. “Right now they’re—uh—they’re drinking. Sitting around,” he said vaguely, squinting as if he were staring all the way to town and over to Aunt Tillie’s backyard. Then the vision seemed to get clear and he nodded energetically. “Yeah. Sitting around. There’s your sister in a blue dress, huh? And high heels, the poor sad bitch—nothing like you, sweetheart! And your mother’s helping some fat woman with the corn, they’re cleaning the corn—husking the corn—“ (p. 234) After that, he started to harass her sexually. “I’ll tell you how it is, I’m always nice at first, the first time. I’ll hold you so tight you won’t think you have to try to get away or pretend anything because you’ll know you can’t. And I’ll come inside you where it’s all secret and you’ll give in to me and you’ll love me—“ (p. 234)

With his “supra natural” ability and sexual harassment, Arnold even made Connie more scared of him. Moreover, feeling frustrated because his “victim” did not give in easily, then he threatened to burn Connie’s house. “If the place got lit up with fire honey, you’d come runnin’ out into my arms, right into my arms…” (p. 235). After that, he threatened to kill Connie’s family; “You don’t want your people in any trouble, do you?” (p. 237)

Feeling very scared, Connie tried to call the police. I think something wrong with the telephone made Connie sort of subconscious. “… she ran into the back room and picked up the telephone. Something roared in her ear, a tiny roaring, and she was so sick with fear that she could nothing but listen to it—“ (p. 237) To some extent, Connie was “split” into two. Her conscience told her not to follow Arnold, but her “sound” mind feeling scared forced her to follow him. Her spirit was expelled out of her body. This body without soul then followed Arnold. “She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were safe back somewhere in the other doorway. Watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited.” (p. 239)

When I come to the end of the two stories—“Young Goodman Brown” and “Where are you going? Where have you been?”—they have the same unhappy ending. In the first, when the main character died, “his tombstone was not carved with hopeful verse, for his dying was gloom.” While in the latter, Connie’s spirit saw her body following her seducer. Besides, I conclude that the two stories are mysterious. In “Young Goodman Brown”, Brown went to the forest and then saw many people there but suddenly they disappeared. Some critics said that it was just the “dream vision” of Brown. In “Where are you going? Where have you been?” Connie underwent separation of her soul and body. In addition, the two main characters underwent the initiation into evil.

Now I want to elaborate the differences between the two stories. The most striking contrast is that Hawthorne’s story is religious—portraying the Puritan era where people mostly viewed life from religious point of view; while Oates’ story is secular—“none of them bothered with church” (p. 229). Hawthorne mentioned terms related to religion; such as ordination, catechism, minister, etc. Oates describes mundane things; such as going to a shopping plaza, listening to music from the radio, watching movies, etc. This is related to the background of the writers. Hawthorne was born as one descendant of Puritan immigrants, but he himself did not like the teachings of Puritanism which he considered hypocrite. Therefore, he criticized that in “Young Goodman Brown”. Oates was born in 1938. The twentieth century, so that she portrayed the life of adolescent girls that she saw in the early 1960s in her story. Besides, the decade of 1960s marked as music worship by youngsters, a kind of worship somewhat like a spiritual one.

Related to the background of the writers, therefore, the stories used very different language. In the Romantic period, the literary work was produced only for people from middle-high social status who were educated and had money to buy it, so that the use of language in “Young Goodman Brown” was especially for the educated middle-high society. It is difficult to understand because it is full of symbols, metaphors. Starting the end of the nineteenth century with the emergence f many people who had a lot of money who would buy literary works such as novels, but they were in fact not from high society—not really educated either—writers started to write pop fiction only to earn money. Since the target market was less educated people, the use of language was simplified.

Another difference is the main character in “Young Goodman Brown” a man; while Connie, a girl, is the main character of “Where are you going? Where have you been?” It is again closely related to the writers. Hawthorne—as a man—would know conflicts faced by men better than conflicts faced by women. Oates—as a woman—would understand better how a girl feels toward her mother, girl friends, and also how o feel against a seducer and face a threat of rape.

The setting of “Young Goodman Brown” is night and in the forest—something mysterious; while in “Where are you going? Where have you been?” the setting is various, sometimes evening in a shopping plaza where Connie hung around with her friends, and Arnold seduced Connie in the afternoon at her house. To undergo his ‘journey’, Brown left his wife at home and went out of the home to go to the forest; while Connie experience scary event when she was left alone at home.

To sum up, the two stories which were written in two different eras have two similarities in the unhappy ending and they are mysterious stories. They have some differences; in the theme—religious versus secular; the use of language; the main character of the stories—man versus girl; and the setting—night versus afternoon-evening; forest versus shopping plaza and home.

A final project for America’s Cultural Eras Class in 2003

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trish Wylie's Manhattan Cupcakes (Manhattan Boss, Diamond Proposal)

Manhattan Cinderella - Cupcake Recipes by Trish Wylie

I just saw this post on I(Heart) Presents and immediately went over to the Harlequin website to check out Trish's cupcakes. WOW is all I can say and I thought I would share them with you.

Chocolate with Cabernet Cupcakes

An adult-rated surprise of super-rich chocolate with the taste of cherries and the slightest hint of red wine.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup cabernet sauvignon

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

Assembly Materials

18 Chocolate with Cabernet Cupcakes

2 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream

1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped

1 tablespoon cinnamon or cocoa powder, as garnish

Bake the cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare muffin pans with white paper baking cups.
2. Into the large bowl of an electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder.
3. Add the oil, vanilla, eggs and wine.
4. Beat with the electric mixer at low speed for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer speed to high and continue beating for three minutes, scraping the sides occasionally.
5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the dried cherries. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Assembly Instructions
1. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream on the center of the completely cooled cupcakes.
2. Add five to six bits of dried fruit and a dusting of cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Mocha Cupcakes

The ultimate grown-up cupcake.

Serving: 16
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teasoons coffee powder (use espresso powder if you are a coffee fan)
1/2 cup hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk, plain yogurt, or sour cream
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Coffee Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
(Makes enough to frost 16 cupcakes)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 tbsp hot water
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper baking cups.

2. Place the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix to combine.

3. Place the coffee powder and water in a small bowl and mix until the coffee has dissolved. Add the vanilla and milk and mix until well combined.

4. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until light, fluffy, and light lemon colored, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and half of the flour mixture, and beat well. Add the coffee mixture and then the remaining flour mixture.

5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fill the prepared muffin tins two-thirds full. Transfer to the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee into 1 tbsp hot water until dissolved, then put it in the refrigerator or freezer until it comes down to room temperature. Reduce mixer speed to low and add coffee mixture. Continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, chocolate spikes - chocolate, chocolate! What's not to love?

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

1 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dark Chocolate Ganache

4 ounces good quality bittersweet dark chocolate

4 ounces heavy cream

Milk Chocolate Ganache

4 ounces good quality milk chocolate

4 ounces heavy cream

Chocolate Spikes

2 ounces good quality chocolate

Assembly Materials

12 Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Milk Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Spikes

Special Tools

Muffin pan with square cups (optional)

Pizza wheel (optional)

Double boiler

Make the cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare the muffin pans with nonstick spray and flour or paper cups.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the cocoa and sugar and mix until thoroughly blended.
3. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla and beat until smooth.
4. Pour or spoon the batter into the pans, filling at least halfway. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cakes test done.
5. Remove the pans and turn out the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Prepare the ganache
1. Chop the chocolate fine and place it in a small bowl.
2. Bring the cream in a small pot to a simmer.
3. Pour the simmering cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.
4. Cool to room temperature.

Make the chocolate spikes
1. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the melted chocolate on it. Spread the chocolate evenly, then let it set.
3. Use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut slices of chocolate.
4. Refrigerate until just before serving.

1. If you want the distinctly different square shape, you have two options. Use a silicone muffin pan with square cups, or do the old-fashioned thing, and, when the cakes are cool, use a sharp knife to slice the tops and sides square.
2. Place the cooled cupcakes on a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath.
3. Use a ladle to pour the Dark Chocolate Ganache over the cupcakes to cover all the edges. Let it set about 10 minutes on each cake.
4. Using a fork, drizzle the Milk Chocolate Ganache over each cupcake in one direction. Turn the cupcake the opposite direction and drizzle again. Refrigerate the cakes until serving time.
5. When it's time to serve the cakes, place the spikes on top as desired.


CLAIMED BY THE ROGUE BILLIONAIRE - Harlequin Presents - January 2009
MANHATTAN BOSS, DIAMOND PROPOSAL - Harlequin Romance - February 2009

Trish Wylie website

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2009 Annual Reader Poll Results (for 2008 Releases) All About Romance

Best 2008 Romance Novels as voted by AAR readers:

Best Romance - The Spymaster's Lady, Joanna Bourne

Best Contemporary Romance - Blue-Eyed Devil, Lisa Kleypas

Best Romantic Suspense - Death Angel, Linda Howard

Best Paranormal Romance - Lover Enshrined, J.R. Ward
Honorable Mention (tie) Mine to Possess, Nalini Singh Dark Desires after Dusk, Kresley Cole

Best Historical Romance Set in the U.K. - The Spymaster's Lady, Joanna Bourne
Honorable Mention - Private Arrangements, Sherry Thomas

Best Historical Romance Not Set in the U.K. - Your Scandalous Ways, Loretta Chase

Funniest Romance - Not Another Bad Date, Rachel Gibson
Honorable Mention (tie) Like No Other Lover - Julie Anne Long

The Lost Duke of Wyndham - Julia Quinn

Just One of the Guys, Kristan Higgins

Biggest Tearjerker - Blue-Eyed Devil, Lisa Kleypas
Honorable Mention - Broken Wing, Judith James

Best Love Scenes - To Seduce a Sinner, Elizabeth Hoyt
Honorable Mention (tie) - Your Scandalous Ways, Loretta Chase
To Taste Temptation, Elizabeth Hoyt

Best Debut Author - Sherry Thomas

Best Series Romance - A Most Unconventional Match, Julia Justiss

Best Chick Lit/Women's Fiction - Just One of the Guys, Kristan Higgins
Honorable Mention (tie) Queen of Babble Gets Hitched - Meg Cabot
Remember Me - Sophie Kinsella

Best Erotica - Wicked Burn, Beth Kery
Honorable Mention - Dangerous Secrets, Lisa Marie Rice

Best Romance Short Story - From This Moment On in It Happened One Night, Candice Hern
Honorable Mention - Spellbound in It Happened One Night, Mary Balogh

Guiltiest Pleasure Romance - Lover Enshrined, J.R. Ward

7 Tips on How to Write a Book

Here are 7 great tips to get you on the road to finishing your book! Please feel free to add your own tips or comments.

1. Write your book. Whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, Fantasy, Autobiography, Crime or Mystery, just write what you feel. Never worry about editing as you go; as that will bury your creativity.

2. Find a quiet place to write. An extra bedroom, office, or even a garage (preferably heated), are all good places “away from it all.” Never look for your muse where friends or family are always interrupting you.

3. Set time aside to write. It takes time to find your inspiration to write. It’s not likely you will write well or accomplish much in a ten minute session. Allow yourself at least two hours to work on your writing project.

4. Choose you books topic according to demand. Are there a million books already written which follow the path of your story or subject? Is there even an audience out there who will buy your book? With nearly 30 books being released in the U.S. every hour of every day, the competition is fierce. If you plan to sell your book to the reading public, make sure you will have a customer base before you put your time and money into publishing a book.

5. Draw an outline for your book before you begin. A well drawn out outline will keep you focused on your total project. Outline your story or information. For fiction book writing, an outline of your plot, when to introduce your characters, and path of the story, that is, the beginning, middle, and ending placed into chronological order. For non-fiction book writing, the same applies. Organize your information into a logical and useful order.

6. Choose your title carefully. Not only is a catchy title a must, but for non-fiction and some fiction books, your title words will most likely be used as “key words” when a potential book buyer searches the Internet for a book similar to yours.

7. Once your book is complete, find a professional editor to fix your mistakes. Spell Check in your writing software is not enough to handle the job.

Carol Denbow is the author of five books, including A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story, available at She is also a regular contributor to numerous writers’ websites and newsletters and has been a featured guest on radio and television.

Please visit Carol’s Websites at Author’s Box at and Books By Denbow at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2008 Barclay Awards Announced - Lilac City Rochester Writers

In an effort to support writers and preserve the memory of founder, first president and best-selling historical romance author Suzanne Barclay, the Lilac City Rochester Writers present: The Barclay Contests

2008 Barclay Awards Announced as follows:

1st place -- Maybe, Baby by Terry McLaughlin 2nd place -- Don't Look Back by Joanne Rock 3rd place tie -- The Rancher Needs a Wife by Terry McLaughlin 3rd place tie -- Where There's Smoke by Mary Fechter aka MJ Fredrick

Historical 1st place tie -- My Noble Knight By Cynthia Breeding 2nd place tie -- The Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans 2nd place tie -- Untouched by Anna Campbell 3rd place tie -- Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss by Deb Marlowe 3rd place tie -- The Accidental Mistress by Tracy Anne Warren I

nspirational 1st place -- Restless Hearts by Marta Perry 2nd place -- Too Good to be True by Trish Perry 3rd place -- Pursuit of Justice by Pamela Tracy Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal 1st place -- In The Midnight Hour by Patti O'Shea 2nd place -- The Dark Gate by Pamela Palmer 3rd place -- Sudden Fall by Kally Jo Surbeck

Romantic Suspense 1st place tie -- Try Just Once More by Kat Henry Doran 1st place tie -- Love Leaves No One Behind by Claudia Pemberton 2nd place -- Touched by Fire by Elizabeth Sinclair 3rd place -- Dead Heat by Pam Champagne

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Join author Lucy Monroe and USA Today - Take The Pledge

This was posted on Lucy Monroe's blog today and it's all in keeping with our new President and what this great nation is feeling. Check it out here

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mills & Boon - Kiss Goodbye to No Kissing!

Mills & Boon came out in protest today against Virgin's ban on public displays of affection in UK stations.

Meet the New Romantics

We're all writers of contemporary fiction with a romantic twist. We've published thirty novels, in more than fifteen countries (including France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia, and Spain) and sold well over 1.5 million copies of our books. We live in all corners of the UK (and one of us in Spain), we have different publishers and we take different approaches to exploring love and relationships in our fiction, from laugh-at-loud romantic comedy to poignant historical love stories.blockquote>

The New Romantics here

Monday, February 16, 2009

Avoiding the I, Oh and You

By Carol Denbow
When new authors write non-fiction, they will often base their subject matter on personal experiences. One mistake commonly made, is the over use of the word “I” in the beginning of sentences. “I know this because I’ve been there, done that.” Or, “I did it this, or that way.” Over use of “I” can make your work sound self-absorbing; not something you should want to portray to your readers—especially if your plans include a follow-up edition. Try finding other words to begin your sentences, such as, “Having learned my self, I tried it this way, and it seemed to work.”

Another word or “phrase” really, to avoid beginning a sentence with, “Oh, by the way,…” Before you add this to your text, sit back and decide if it is really necessary to make your point. “I went to the grocery store and they don’t have beans. Oh, by the way, they didn’t have rice either.” Instead, how about, “When I went to the grocery store they didn’t have beans or rice.” Play with your sentences and try to hone in on your creativity.

“You should try fishing on the Rouge River.” Sounds a bit like your insisting I do what you ask. How about, “Fishing on the Rouge River is great.” It’s okay to address your reader in a personal manner, but overuse of the same word, such as, “you,” might begin to sound aggressive in tone; try sounding more suggestive rather than forceful.

Over use of any words makes your manuscript sound repetitive and unprofessional. The wonderful thing about this computer age (specifically Thesaurus), is that the dictionary is at our disposal at all times—use it! If you just can’t “find the words,” you certainly should be able to with the help of your writing software.

To complete and publish your own book, read A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story available through,, or wherever fine books are sold.

Visiting editors and writers! Please feel free to correct me or add your own comments on this topic below through the comment link.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day

When entering my class on Saturday February 14, 2009, I was surprised to see two female students of mine who were wearing the same color clothes—pink. Forgetting that it was the Valentine’s Day, I asked them,

How could two of you wearing the same color today? Did you have similar dreams last night?”

(FYI, I always joke about having similar dreams when I happen to find some people in my workplaces to wear the same color clothing.)

Simultaneously, the two girls answered,

It is Valentine’s Day, Miss…”

What a surprise …

Why surprise? Because both of them are wearing headdress, and I opine that many women in Indonesia who wear Muslim clothes do not like anything related to western culture: celebrating the Valentine’s Day is one of them.

Luckily on that day I was about to talk about different cultures in different places, to understand and respect each other. Therefore, I directly made use of the Valentine’s Day as the topic for ‘motivating strategies’ step.

There were seven students on that day, two were boys and five were girls. The first male student I asked was a graduate of Islamic Boarding School—both when he was at junior and senior high. Before he answered my question, “What do you think of celebrating the Valentine’s Day?” I already could guess what he was going to say. And it was true. He responded,

In my opinion, I don’t agree with that kind of celebration. Simply because it is western culture. Not our own culture.”

I directly asked him, “Do you use computer in your daily life?”

He answered, “Yes, Miss.”

Don’t you think it is also western culture? Computer technology comes from the west. If you want to stick to your principle that western culture is not supposed to be followed by eastern people, you had better be consistent.” I ‘surprised’ him with this question.

He was dumb-founded for a while. But then he said about the history of the Valentine’s Day that he read in one article: that it dates back from a Saint named Valentine who was beheaded because he broke the regulation of the emperor: youngsters were not allowed to get married because they had to be soldiers. The saint was a Catholic.

If we celebrate the Valentine’s Day, we will be like them,” he tried to explain. Perhaps he thought I have never read such a thing yet.

What do you mean ‘to be like them’?” i asked him to explain, although in fact i could read it “To be Catholic, and no longer a Muslim,” since Saint Valentine was a Catholic. For naive Muslim (who are not a pluralist) it is really hellish to be considered not Muslim anymore only because they do something like celebrating the Valentine’s Day or Christmas.

Furthermore, i cited one discussion in some mailing lists about suggestion of 17 things to be labeled ‘haram’ by MUI. I didn’t mention the 17 things, but only one: MUI must forbid Indonesian Muslim athletes to join the Olympic Games since the history stated that in the first place Greek held Olympic Games to worship their gods. Absolutely it is haram to worship Greek gods. To worship the Almighty that is not Allah is considered the biggest sin in Islam.

Since this case is similar to the history of the Valentine’s Day—to commemorate something or someone that is not Islamic—Indonesian Muslim athletes are not to join the Olympic Games then.

Being able to see the ridiculous thing in forbidding people to join the Olympic Games, my students seemed to be able to see the ridiculous thing in forbidding to celebrate the Valentine’s Day too.

Another surprising thing was when the two female students wearing pink clothes also stated that they did not agree with the celebration of the Valentine’s Day. (So, what made them wear pink on that day? LOL.) Nevertheless, eventually I could see them understand what I had explained. Furthermore, I cited one hadith saying that the most important thing in doing something is the INTENTION (‘nawaitu’, in Arabic). For example: our intention in joining the hubbub of the Valentine’s Day celebration—either by exchanging chocolates, flowers, dolls, and any other gift—is to show our love and care to our loved ones, and not to commemorate the death of Saint Valentine. However, if we don’t want to be ‘victims’ of business people who get lots of profits by selling chocolates, etc, we don’t need to buy gifts then.

PT56 18.50 150209

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Blog Award

Wow, how nice! We have been selected to recieve the "Blog Love" award by our friends at Young Women Writers Blog! This is a wonderful gesture and an honor for us. Thank you Young Women Writers!

Follow this blog! CLICK HERE!

Follow me on Twitter, CLICK HERE!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

India Grey Wins the RNA Romance Prize

Photo Credit: Marc Byram - Photoman Creative Photography

As posted all over the internet today, especially on I(heart)presents by Amy and on the Harlequin Presents Forum, the lovely India Grey:

Major congratulations go out to India Grey, who has just been awarded the RNA Romance Prize for her book Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure! Way to go India!

Readers in North America are in luck, too — Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure just happens to be on sale this month from Harlequin Presents Extra......Amy ((Heart)Presents

You can read my review here.

As most of you know, Harlequin is celebrating 60 years, their Diamond Anniversary. They are so many offerings to readers in celebration of their event.
Here is the link to the report. Very interesting and informative. In honor of their anniversary, I'm holding a February contest with Harlequin's collectible calendar at Marilyn's Romance Reviews.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Best of The Tour Re-Visited

Back in October, I went on a virtual book tour and visited many useful Websites and Blogs for writers. For those of you who are newer visitors to this blog, I have re-posted a few of those tour stops. Enjoy and "WRITE ON!"

Wednesday, HERE OF COURSE! (This stop is more of a bio)
Thursday, TOPIC – “Writing & Publishing Non-fiction” Visit Audrey’s Blog at AUDREY'S BLOG
Friday, TOPIC – “Writing & Publishing Fiction” Visit Cute Writing: Creative Writing Help at Cute Writing
Saturday, TOPIC – “Marketing Mistakes”, Visit John Kremer’s Book Marketing Forum
Sunday, TOPIC –“Connecting With Your Market” Visit My Funny Dad, Harry Blog
Monday, TOPIC – “Writing as a Business” Visit Creatif
Tuesday, TOPIC – “Marketing Discussion” Visit Plain & Simple Books
Wednesday, TOPIC – “Genre” Visit Writ, Written, Wrote
Thursday, TOPIC – “General Discussion” Visit A Book Inside Forum
Friday, TOPIC – “Publishing Options” Visit A Stress Free Life