November 24, 2009

Yolanda Christian

WHAT'S THE BOOK ABOUT?
Jolenta dos Remédios, a brilliant but naive artist, goes to Portuguese Macau in search of roots.

Jolenta arrives in Peckham High Street, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Edward Hopper. Subdued by Tom and Kris, and their elitist way of life on the Sumner Road council estate, she takes what the Slade School of Art has to offer… and paints in the dark. Whatever happens – it’s her lack of belonging, and quest to establish herself as an artist, that drives her forward. This novel of magical realism is both poignant and laugh-out-loud.

Jolenta feels halfway whole and half way real, because her mother refuses to talk about the past. She goes to Los Angeles to meet the legendary Great Aunty Cheeki dos Remédios. The octogenarian tells stories about Alvege, the Macanese people -- her people -- and about pirates on the South China Sea. This inspires the young and impressionable artist to take the journey of a lifetime.


STOP PRESS:
Eye of an Artist, Part One, was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013. It's available here for PC or Mac. Two short readings from the novel are presented below.


video
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“After the end of Portuguese Macau, all the memories start fading and each time an old person dies is a moment of no return. That's why your interpretation is so valid and useful.”  
Dr. Jorge Forjaz, author of 'Familias Macaenses'

Click here for a culturally-relevant link.
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* Macanese people of the former Portuguese colony Macau established in 1557, now under SAR [50 year administrative rule to China since 1st July 1997].
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LATEST REVIEW ON WWW.AMAZON.CO.UK here
By 
"A hugely entertaining read with vibrant characterisation; a tremendous feel for location... without trying to say too much (spoilers), Jolenta's Peckham and life with Tom and Kris seemed like a prelude, as once the dizziness of L.A. with Dora and Cheeki hit the page, I personally just had to keep turning the page..."

FAVORITE READS: 
House of Spirits, Isabel Allende
The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By, Georges Simenon
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Brian Moore
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75 comments:

Birth Injuries said...

Hi Yolanda
Just thought I'd pop over and say thanks for directing me to this site. I've created a blog now. Hope you'll take a look
Love Sue x

Doug Bremner said...

You should put pictures of your paintings up here, if that is commercially OK. I always like it when painters start writing stories-- it is fun to see the pictures and stories together.

Anonymous said...

well done with the book, you have come a long way

Lorraine said...

Miss you. Wish you'd contact me. My e-mail address on the profile page where you've not been for a long time. xxxx

Anonymous said...

AnnabelleP wrote 409 days ago

Hi Yolanda,
This is beautiful writing, very much like a picture in itself if you understand what I am saying? Your descriptions are vivid and I am keen to follow Jol and see how the journey pans out - I do love a story with an emotional and/or physical journey in it, preferably both. I am not going to nit-pick the technical stuff as others will do that for you but what I can say is the for me, this flowed, it was an easy and enoyable read. I will try to get back to read more but for now,
Bests
Adelaide Short

Anonymous said...

markhenderson wrote 409 days ago

I echo the two previous comments. This is a warm, satisfying piece of writing and the characters are well-rounded and convincing. Oddly, it took me some little time before I had a clear image of your protagonist/ narrator, Jol, but I suppose that's intentional: this is going to be a journey of self-discovery. But I'm really impressed. This is much better than most material on the [writer's site] site! (I love your description of the act of painting, too. I'm an amateur oil painter and what you wrote resonated beautifully for me.)

I was a little surprised at the heterogeneity of chapter lengths. Chapter 2 seemed very long (it didn't become tedious, I promise - but it did seem to go on a lot), while chapter 3 is extremely short. That might affect an editor's or publisher's judgment. In terms of style, I'm loath to criticise people who write better than I can, but a few of your sentences struck me as infelicitous. Take the start of the fifth paragraph of chapter 1, for instance ("Unlike..."). I had to read that sentence three times before I understood it. That's not a good idea so early in the book!

Your pitch doesn't do justice to your work. Editors often don't read beyond the pitch, so you HAVE to get it right. As it stands, your short pitch is repeated in your long pitch, and the "she" in the penultimate paragraph seems to lack an antecedent. I strongly suggest that you re-work what you've written there.

I'm almost entirely ignorant of the history of the Portugese Empire. I look forward to the completion of your book, which will enable me to gain some insight into it in an aesthetically satisfying and enjoyable way.
Mark("Overlooked")

Anonymous said...

maryinflorida wrote 409 days ago

Yolanda,
When I logged on today, the first thing I noticed on my News was that Mark had commented on "Eye of an Artist." That piqued my interest. Mark is a delightful reviewer - he's so enthusiastic and generous. (I tend to be succinct because I believe I lack the knowledge to fairly criticize other's work.) And the word artist - ah, now we have something in common. I've read a chapter and a half of "Eye" and have thoroughly enjoyed all the yummy detail, oddly juxtaposed objects and actions, intimate views and observations - everything that creates atmosphere and images inside my mind's eye.

I agree with Mark regarding your pitch. After reading your bio, then the short pitch, then the longer description, I feel as if you spent too many words repeating yourself in a paragraph where every word is as valuable as gold. He also pointed out a few inept sentences. As a U.S. citizen, my English differs from that of the Brits, Aussies or the many speakers worldwide who learn the language. As such, I immediately noticed your syntax and its rich, colorful divergence from my own. This voice generally adds depth to your story because it contributes to the underlying multi-cultural experience and characters. However, in some instances the awkward phrasing distracts from the flow and poetry of your words - all easily repaired with a bit of tough-love editing.
You might enjoy my "Liminality: A Tale of Fox Possession" which is about a bi-racial Japanese-American wildlife photographer who visits Fushimi Inari in Japan after the death of her father. Like your "Eye," family history and secrets are central themes and art is a metaphor for the story.
Best wishes for success and welcome to the site.
Mary

Anonymous said...

Joanna Stephen-Ward wrote 409 days ago
Yolanda,
You've got some wonderful descriptions here. Turpentine perfumes the air . . . i could smell the pine. Through ch 1 you create smells that I wish I could smell. Hot spicy fat with star anise. And sounds - the thwack of a tennis ball.
Joanna

R.E. Xavier said...

Hi Yolanda,

Just stopped by and learned you have family from Hong Kong and Macau, like me. Not sure you will receive this message, but you might be interested in my efforts to gather stories from immigrants (Macanese and others) from the far east. Visit my site:www.FarEastCurrents.com to find out more.

Roy Eric Xavier
Rdinvst@yahoo.com

- - - - - - - said...

Dear Roy,
I was amazed to come across your message on my blog today. I don't visit it often, because I am so busy writing. Also the blog did not alert me.

I look forward to investigating your website and research and getting in touch one day. If you could let me know, which country you live in that would be marvellous.

I'm based in Stratford, London E15 4AA.

very best wishes, Yolanda

Anonymous said...

Dear Yolanda,
At long last, I have plunged into your ms. and what a treat it is! Vivid, colorful, interesting and intriguing. Clearly an artist of all the senses, you paint your scenes and action, so one can see, hear, smell, taste, touch. Description sets each scene so that the reader can imagine to be there, the characters breathe, introduced and sketched deftly so that one quickly feels one knows them yet wants to find out more, a lot more, and the story lures you along. I found myself rushing on to what comes next, but also wanting to linger and to savor the images, observations, suggestions. You do have a way with words. Also with imparting information easily - not a small gift. Best wishes on completing the book, which I trust will get published soon. Would love to read it holding it in my hands, and keep it on a real as well as virtual bookshelf. The title and the cover are perfect, and illustrations, I think, would be great.
Thank you for the joy of this preview,

Suzanna Simor [New York]
This comment was copied from a writer's website

Anonymous said...

A magical book, and truly a pleasure to read (an education too).
I lack the experience (and know-how) to make technical suggestions though perhaps this would be superfluous anyway, such is the calibre of 'Eye of an Artist'.

It's 'visual' work, the best of descriptive writing - one 'sees' all the details, major and minor. It has the air of a 19th-century French novel in that 'all life is here': vibrant, profound and mundane, colour, a wealth of sights and insights, the atmosphere of lives lived fully.

A cherishable masterpiece, framed exquisitely by a true artist. Backed with pleasure and admiration.

Steve Jensen
[Comment taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

As per your request I read chapters 6 & 7. I must say you have a unique and refreshing writing style that appeals - it's almost staccato like. Thank you for the receipe for Diablo. I think I will try it. I don't see much to critizise. I think your work is well paced, well written and your use of imagery is excellent.
Cheers,
Andrew Burans
The Reluctant Warrior: The Beginning
[Taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

J. Hamler wrote:

Chapter 7

Yo, Yolanda. The preface that directed me to this chapter is such a good idea I think I might try the same thing. Because, it's true. Very rarely does anyone (me included) read past a person's first chapter.

Of course, that reduces my feedback. I can only comment on the writing, not the story. But I think that's the most important thing anyway. The story is what it is, what YOU have in mind. It's the execution we can all stand to improve upon. So... [Editorial suggestions have been removed as the writer's draft has moved on.]

Anyway, despite my tendency to meddle, I think this is pretty damn good as is. The writing itself is very descriptive but not overbearing and the dialogue sounds authentic. There's even a hint of comic irreverance in the tone of the prose and I'm always appreciative of that. Cheeki and Jolly. You're obviously going for a Dickensian trope with those names, and I like it. All in all, I say: BRAVO.

Cheers and all the best

John
[Taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

Re chapter 13 aka 12.
I found your story intriguing and it grabbed me. What I think you need to do is edit very carefully. There are times you veer towards overwriting and become too florid. An English teacher would love it, an ordinary reader (like me) may well be put off. Like me, you have a tendency to use overlong sentences and fall into using run on sentences. I've gone through my ms twice (not the upload) and I am still finding more that need attention. I hope this helps.
Lanson
[Taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

[Taken from a writer's website]

Christa Wojo wrote:

Dear Yolanda,

What a feast for the senses! I read 1, 6, 11, and 13 and thouroughly enjoyed them all. I entertained the idea of writing a similar book about my husband's family. They are Chinese, Singaporean, Greek and Panamanian and I find their stories and personalities fascinating. I admire how you wrote about the 'characters' in your family and their histories. I also love how you included the food!
I went to Shanghai and spent time in many of the areas you described (The Bund, Nan Jing, etc.) It was lovely to visit again through your eyes. I was looking forward to reading about Macau as I went there too and found it so odd and interesting!
I see you haven't finished yet, and it does need a little smoothing over, but from the ingredients you have for this novel, I don't think you could go wrong. You've so richly described the people, places and food in your life, I feel as if I'd simmered in an exotic cultural stew!

Anonymous said...

[Taken from a writer's website]

Brazen wrote:

At first I thought, this will be appreciated by a finer connoisseur than myself or caus there si no way i am going to start a book at the middle. The flourish of the writing in the beginning turned me off. It was too rich, too flavourful for my taste and distracts me too much from the story. But I ventured in further as you suggested and was rewarded with a chapter eleven perfectly suited to my simple tastes. A good yell down perfectly executed. An even better description of the city and strong writing througout. Well you know what needs to be done.....

Anonymous said...

Lanson wrote on www.authony.com

Re chapter 13 aka 12.
I found your story intriguing and it grabbed me. What I think you need to do is edit very carefully. There are times you veer towards overwriting and become too florid. An English teacher would love it, an ordinary reader (like me) may well be put off. Like me, you have a tendency to use overlong sentences and fall into using run on sentences. I've gone through my ms twice (not the upload) and I am still finding more that need attention. I hope this helps.
PS
I thought the last phrase you asked about corny but rather than removing it I think you should add to it.

Anonymous said...

J&M JENSEN wrote on www.authonomy.com

EYE OF AN ARTIST

Dear Yolanda,

This is my kind of book and I long to have it in my hands, on paper! The first five chapters were utterly compelling, and the characters so real, I especially loved the interaction between Jol, Tom and Kris. You've really captured the atmosphere of flat sharing. To be honest, I had intended to skim over chapters, but this proved impossible, it demands to be read slowly and savoured. As for grammatical errors and typos, I'm afraid I was too engrossed even to look. This is fine writing indeed.

J&M Jensen
(Graemor)

Pauline Griffiths said...

Hi Yol,
Loved the start to this book - you clearly have a talent for writing and I would love to read a bit more ... have you published yet ... please give me more as I would love to read it.
Well done ... this is such a beautiful piece of work.

- - - - - - - said...

Dear Pauline,
That was a lovely surprise!!!

Just give me this weekend to do some really unpleasant paperwork, and then I'll send you a chapter.

At the moment I'm re-writing the first 50,000 words but as you know from my emailed letter to you, I have zillions of pressing issues. Oh, play the violin... get the tissues.

I'm very grateful to you for contacting me. Much love, Ar Po. Yol

Anonymous said...

Ha. I thought I'd follow your wishes and started at chapter 6 only to be greeted by Uncle Arthur's flatulence. The thing is, I have an Uncle Arthur and this has placed some very disturbing imagery in my head. That aside, I found this a fascinating and very enjoyable read. The only thing I would question would be 'Odd, the Hawaiin actor in Goldfinger'. Well as 'Oddjob' isn't the name of the actor BUT the character, then it seems out of place to mention actor. Infact the sentence works perfectly well enough as 'He resembled OddJob from 'Goldfinger'. I think the character is so iconic you don;t need to say anything else. Anyway, I'm very impressed with this.
BAcked with pleasure
Carl
The Time Hunters
[Taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

MY ONLY COMMENT YOLANDA IS:

You take me into a world I would otherwise never have known. This is the tag of great writing. So, i say thanks.

This book has a voice, a sweet one.

yasmin esack
[taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

The first par of 12 was kinda weird: planes don't ignore things; I'd rework that line. After reading further, I do not think I am qualified to comment on this since I am not familiar with much of what is being discussed. Good luck to you.
FMKnight
[Taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

I read chapter 9 as per your request and it is very obvious that you have a treasure trove of information to pass on to the reader. A lot of it is very interesting and I believe that you have something of great value here. I am not great on grammer, so don't rely on me for that, but I do have an opinion I wanted to pass on though. I got a little overwhelmed with the details and descriptions. Just my opinion, but I would balance the story flow a little more. Good luck with this!

John Wickey
Future's End
[taken from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

I was given the prologue and chapter one to read. I put it on the last few steps of my stair case and went on to other things. Later the next day I was waiting to leave the house for an appointment and just happened to pick up my sample of ‘Eye of an Artist’ and glanced at it to pass some time. I read the prologue…Hmm interesting. I continued to read. Within a few minutes I was completely hooked! Together with the whole fishing line and sinker. I could not put it down and took it with me to my appointment and continued to read in the waiting room. Never before has a piece of literary fiction so grabbed hold of me. What can I say, but I absolutely loved what I read and only wished that I could have had more to read. I went back to the prologue and started over again.

There are many things I loved about the way this story is being told. First, reading the beautiful descriptions and witty dialogue was effortless. It was as if I found myself being swept along with the story line – being carried by the words not, as with some books I have read, wading through heavy viscous waters that leave you exhausted. This was a pleasure. Second, and this is a personal preference, chapter one was short. I hate over long chapters. It makes dipping into and out of a book so very difficult and I want to enjoy my reading.

I was treated to the thrill of what it would be like to be a student again - an art student in one of the most prestigious art colleges in Britain. The descriptions of the location of the digs was delightful and really captured the zeitgeist of London at the time the action takes place. We are introduced into an environment that is both cultural and noble but also a bit sleazy, crowded but always thoroughly absorbing and enjoyable. I love the character of ‘Kris’ and his description as he talks ‘at’ Jolenta. His clipped and rather precise way of addressing himself, his chain-smoking and reluctance to ‘wash-up’ reminded me of a character in an ‘Oxbridge’ college in the 1920’s. There was a wonderful feeling of nostalgia and hints of a class structure not seen so much these days. ‘Eye of an Artist’ will be an absolutely fantastic book. Really, I can’t wait for it’s publication. Indeed, I can see it becoming a classic of English literature and part of our school curriculum in days to come. In fact it would make an absolutely wonderful screen play for a television adaptation!!

Yolanda, you have a rare ability to write very well and I would like to encourage you to continue, press on and make ‘Eye of an Artist’ a reality and available on our bookshelves. I feel certain I am not alone in wishing for this. Don’t stop being a writer – it was what you were born to do!!!

- - - - - - - said...

Dear You,
Well I know it's you Peter. Thank you for your comment. It is a great boost that you got the gist of it, and wanted to read more.

Just so you know, I made more amendments... there are always plenty to do. I wanted to differentiate more between Tom and Kris. Also some of the point of view and general writing need a bit more attention.

Peter thanks for your encouragement. I'll bring you round that bottle of champagne then! [Joke]
Yolanda

Anonymous said...

You really take the reader into this world and it is quite enchanting. I read chapter 7 as requested but nothing to comment on other than I enjoyed the pace and style.

Roe [ from a writer's website]

Anonymous said...

First off, I like how you start us off right in the middle of the action. In drew me in, even though I hadn’t read any of the previous chapters. Your writing flows smoothly. It is also very vivid; with minimal description the reader gets a true sense of the setting. The key to accomplishing that is the one or two details thrown in, like “a few battered trunks burst open, spilling out shirts and socks.” We’ve all seen such a thing, so the line sparks a memory that allows us to fill in the blanks with our imagination, making the reader a part of the story. The characterization is solid; I got a good feel for Jol as she dealt with Madame’s quirky, high-maintenance, issues, and later as she shied away from the Chinese police. The dialog felt both natural and authentic. I found myself laughing at several of the clever interchanges. I also found it enlightening as we switched into the POV of Mr. Wu, learning from his inner thoughts what he really thought about the “foreign devils.”

There were a few punctuation and formatting issues, but I nevertheless found it a very colorful and humorous read. I’m very happy to back it.

Richard Bard
[taken from athonomy.com]

Anonymous said...

Yolanda, I am very impressed. I see shades of Garcia Marquez and Allende in your work. I only comment as a reader but this really is a treat to read through. I would love to offer a better critique but I just enjoyed sitting back with a cup of tea and reading.

C.C.McKinnon
[taken from authonomy.com]

Anonymous said...

A long time ago I started, but did not finish, "The General and His Labyrinth" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, so I am not the best person to comment about the 'magic realism' in your story. That said, I like to think that I can recognize a good story when I read one, and "Eye of an Artist" is definitely that. You paint a very vivid and atmospheric world with the written word. On my shelf.

Best of luck,
J. A. Johnson
(The Wild, Wild Quest)
[taken from authonomy.com]

Anonymous said...

Who doesn’t love a good fart joke? And Yolanda plays to the crowd in Chapter six with Uncle Arthur farting and the mother and daughter laughing and stomping their feet.

Aunty Cheeki is a hoot, almost caricature-ish. But her life is tragic comedy as she recounts her affluence and then being evacuated to Stanley prison where Valda dies.

This writing is wonderful narrative and descriptive prose. The dialogue is colorful, especially everything Aunty Cheeki has to say. Would you believe that I worked in Gardena 25 years ago?

galencharles from authonomy.com

- - - - - - - said...

CHAPTER 8
First off, I like how you start us off right in the middle of the action. In drew me in, even though I hadn’t read any of the previous chapters. Your writing flows smoothly. It is also very vivid; with minimal description the reader gets a true sense of the setting. The key to accomplishing that is the one or two details thrown in, like “a few battered trunks burst open, spilling out shirts and socks.” We’ve all seen such a thing, so the line sparks a memory that allows us to fill in the blanks with our imagination, making the reader a part of the story. The characterization is solid; I got a good feel for Jol as she dealt with Madame’s quirky, high-maintenance, issues, and later as she shied away from the Chinese police. The dialog felt both natural and authentic. I found myself laughing at several of the clever interchanges. I also found it enlightening as we switched into the POV of Mr. Wu, learning from his inner thoughts what he really thought about the “foreign devils.”

There were a few punctuation and formatting issues, but I nevertheless found it a very colorful and humorous read. I’m very happy to back it.

Richard Bard
BRAINRUSH
Taken from www.authonomy.com

Anonymous said...

C.C.McKinnon wrote for www.authonomy.com

Yolanda, I am very impressed. I see shades of Garcia Marquez and Allende in your work. I only comment as a reader but this really is a treat to read through. I would love to offer a better critique but I just enjoyed sitting back with a cup of tea and reading.

Anonymous said...

RobRow wrote for www.authonomy.com

Yolanda:
I’m backing Eye of an Artist on the sheer ambitious scope of your project. You certainly cover a lot of ground, and the diverse settings in your book are a real strong point. Being a reader who prefers simple, economical prose I found myself sometimes reacting to passages which, to me, seemed overwritten; but I would be remiss in suggesting any changes since you are striving for an artistic aesthetic. Nevertheless, I made a few notes while reading, and here they are.

As per your request, I started reading in Ch. 6. In paragraph 2, I came across the phrase “Of Henry Moore monumentality,” which seemed awkward to me. The initial scene plays out well until I came across this sentence, which interrupted the flow: “Jol had accepted the chasm in communication long ago as part of the natural scheme of things.” “Chasm in communication” is unwieldy and “natural scheme of things” is a cliché. “Tidal lack of understanding”?

This sentence in Ch. 7 gave me pause for thought: “Despite her Portuguese nationality, she was the archetypal, old Chinese lady with hair brushed back into a bun shape and quivering cheeks like a basset hound.” I’m willing to concede that there is an archetypal old Chinese lady, but with “quivering cheeks like a basset hound”? I can’t picture it.

Anonymous said...

In accordance with what you said, I read chapter 11.
Despite having no idea why Jol was there or who her companions were, I found i was engrossed in the whole thing.
It was all so alien and yet familiar, visually it was stunning, I could see it all. And it was unexpected, that wonderful chance meeting and the eating of an English cream tea in a completely Chinese setting. I didn't know if I was supposed to laugh or just pick my jaw up off the floor.
Then you hit me again with something so Chinese, the lack of a a toilet in a high rise and then that incredible proposal.
The bit on the coach was magnificent. How dare anyone presume upon their age and their cloth to be so rude over four mins, I think she was very restrained in her reaction.
If the rest is as beautifully written and observed as this part, it is a magical book and I'm happy to back it on the strength of this one chapter.
Beval wrote for www.authonomy.com

Anonymous said...

Light Between Shadows wrote on www.authonomy.com

Regarding Chapter 11 -- I found it very believable and apt -- anyone who has traveled to a poor and/or oppressed place will recognize some version of the experience you describe so beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Roe wrote on www.authonomy.com

You really take the reader into this world and it is quite enchanting. I read chapter 7 as requested but nothing to comment on other than I enjoyed the pace and style, and will read more but in the meantime,backed.

Anonymous said...

Paige Pendleton wrote on www.authonomy.com

I read C6 - immediately impressed, but a bit lost, so I had to go back and read 1 & 2 to get my bearings. This simply is an amazing work. Hard to do it justice without sounding gushy. I loved it, and greatly admire your skill. The humor is perfect, too. Backed with a key-bending bang. I hope to see this in the stores in the very near future!

Anonymous said...

Yolanda,

A long time ago I started, but did not finish, "The General and His Labyrinth" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, so I am not the best person to comment about the 'magic realism' in your story. That said, I like to think that I can recognize a good story when I read one, and "Eye of an Artist" is definitely that. You paint a very vivid and atmospheric world with the written word. On my shelf.

Best of luck,
J. A. Johnson
(The Wild, Wild Quest)

Anonymous said...

kevinwong_HoD wrote on www.authonomy.com:

Hi Yolanda. Your book is neat and very well-written, and I love the fact that it has so many Chinese elements incorporated into it. (I'm Chinese!) :-) You have wonderfully-written sentences, that evoke images and even senses, such as smell and sound. As you requested, I looked at chapter 8. I saw parts that could be trimmed down, if even by a fraction, such as "baldy man" could just be "bald man". Also, there seemed to be a mistake when you said "What did China become not become but the gateway..."; I think you meant "What did China become but the gateway..." Overall though, your book is good, and I am eager to see how it will do! I hope so much you will get a book deal! :-)

- - - - - - - said...

Oooo, I've made a lot of changes since you kindly wrote your comment Kevin, in fact I've dramatically re-written it.

The 'become not become' is my attempt to emulate Mandarin Chinese, e.g. 'hao bu hao', 'shi bu chi', and so on...

Thanks for taking the time to read it. Bye for now. Yolanda

Anonymous said...

R.C. Lewis wrote on www.authonomy.com

Since I jumped right into chapters 6 and 7, I’m sure I missed some background information. Still, the voice and characters are strong and lively, giving the reader a vivid impression of the events. I was easily drawn in, wondering what would be revealed next. The revelation of Jol’s mother’s cruelty was shocking and made me curious to know more.

Some notes: The beginning of ch 6 threw me off a bit, as I thought someone was shouting the word “poop” rather than it being a sound effect. This might be remedied by format – perhaps italics instead of quotes? Later, “flaying” arms and legs, or “flailing”? In general, though, it reads easily and just needs “clean-up” editing, as many of us do.

I particularly enjoy the informative aspects of this, as the culture and history discussed are things I don’t know much about. At the same time, the colorful characters drive the story forward, ensuring it doesn’t feel like a dry textbook presentation. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Rosali Webb wrote on www.authonomy.com

Yolanda
Read chapter 7 as asked. It opens with Jolly approaching Cheeki in the bid to answer questions on her childhood. And then, at the 'Big noodle', with the table laid out with all the colourful, lovely food, it was just like
a picture. Very good descriptive phrases, beautiful settings. I actually know someone (she's 90!) who I would love to buy this for because of her own life history.

Anonymous said...

Sharlow wrote on www.authonomy.com:

Yolanda, I suck at this type of books, so i'm not going to bother with a review. I did read chap 6 as you asked. If this is based on your life...lol weird. The brit slang is hard for me to digest, but I was able to follow it pretty well. The dialog was fine. Didnt stumble over any of it, except the brit language barrier. The first part was interesting with all the fart jokes and the meal and all. Didnt read the recipe. But the trip kinda lost me after you got to your aunts. Good writing but as I said before. I'm a fantasy guy. So I backed it as it looks like youve done a lot of work on this and deserve it.

AT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
- - - - - - - said...

Dear Ann,
Thank you so much for reading Chapter 1. I really appreciate it. I'll take on board what you say about density [although you might like it] when I do my umptenth re-write! At the moment, I'm reading 'Love in the Time of Cholera', and Gabriel makes me look positively flimsy in my prose...

Another important thing I was glad to hear about from you, was that nothing was confusing or made you yawn. Vital feedback!Look forward to seeing you,
Yolanda

- - - - - - - said...

Ann, I accidentally deleted your comment! Yikes.

- - - - - - - said...

Ann, by email it was:

"no yawning, no confusion. i wanted the lead character to believe in herself. She is wary and walking on eggshells to some extent in her new abode but there's a sense she wouldn't easily be dislodged!"

and you remarked on the blog about dense prose and wanting to know what happens next. many thanks

Anonymous said...

britneyjmartin wrote on www.authonomy.com

Your writing is truly mature and tightly composed. You bring all senses into each scene, inticing the reader to keep turning the page with your attention to detail and scene setting. You really have a way with words.

You've got a great pitch, and a great story here, that is set apart from all others on Authonomy. Well done!

Anonymous said...

missyfleming_22 wrote on www.authonomy.com

You have such detail in your writing and it really swept me along, like I was right there with you. I don't know much about art but I feel like I actually learned something here. I also love the Chinese elements to it, such an enthralling and mysterious subject. I really had to keep reminding myself that this was true-life and not fiction. I never really feel qualified to critique but I do leave comments as a reader, and this was very enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Thomas J. Winton wrote on www.authonomy.com

Yolanda, I read C-8 and was treated to something highly unusual. What I got was intrigue, suspense, and humor (loved the bathroom scene with Madame), all rolled up in one. I also gathered some insight about the Chinese take ( Mr.Wu's anyway) on how the English, and others, tried to imperialize their country. The paragraph beginning with "My aches and pains have gone." reads like ever-so-graceful poetry. Great work! Only nit is when Jol "had the feeling her wallet had disappeared" I'd have thought she'd have immediately gotten up to check. I know, being the tight wad I am, I would have. Backed with pleasure.

Anonymous said...

bred flink wrote on www.authonomy.com

You are an artist. A visual artist with a keen-ness for all the senses.
May I say I know you? I want to be able to say I knew Yolanda before she became famous.
You are an artist, and this is the work of genius.
Bravo.

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Steady on, mate...

Anonymous said...

zap wrote on www.authonomy.com

hi yolanda, I read ch11 as requested. I found it vibrant in description. You create a 3d feel and bring home the exotic atmosphere of the far East by giving an allround experience. Very rich language and quickly drawn pictures create a sense of inexplicable tension which runs beyond the veil of words and colours your writing. I cannot comment on the plot, but the suggestions in ch12 are interesting and there are enough additional images to enhance a sense of progressive mystery. Backed.

Anonymous said...

gillyflower wrote in relation to an early draft on www.authonomy.com

Your characters, especially Great Aunt Cheeki, are lively, likable, and interesting. Your style is colourful, often literally so. You observe and describe the colours of things, as artists often do, and you do this very well. The family history, coming in little bits and pieces from Cheeki, has a good feeling of realism. This is a book which, without any particular cliff hanging hooks, still manages to make the reader eager to read more. You have made the background for which Jol searches a living thing which we also want to find out more about.
I think you might want to cut some of the repeated parts of Chapter Six. I read Chapter One, simply to orientate myself, and then Chapters Six and Seven. As a result, I found myself re-reading quite a lot. It is close enough in the book for the reader to remember what you have already said in Chapter One. A shorter reprise, enough to let us know where we now are, would, I think, be better. But of course, it's your decision, and maybe you use the repetition deliberately. A fascinating book, with an interesting story, well worth reading.

Anonymous said...

Melcom wrote on www.authonomy.com

Stunning writing and a fascinating read.

Anonymous said...

SRFire previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

Your richly textured work is a wonderful exploration of the different hues that go into making a painting, and, indeed a people. I love the use of different works of art throughout the story, and the metaphor of colour in paintings for the melting pot journey you describe. Best, Sana

Anonymous said...

Rosali Webb previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

Yolanda
Read chapter 7 as asked. It opens with Jolly approaching Cheeki in the bid to answer questions on her childhood. And then, at the 'Big noodle', with the table laid out with all the colourful, lovely food, it was just like
a picture. Very good descriptive phrases, beautiful settings. I actually know someone (she's 90!) who I would love to buy this for because of her own life history, so definitely Backed.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Alex Baker previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

Per your request, let's take a look at chapter 6. Despite not having read the first five chapters, I eased into this section rather comfortably and felt like I knew this crowd almost immediately. While the diabo recipe made me ravenously hungry, it was a little distracting and threw off the pace. I'd lose it, along with the footnotes at the end. Other than that, I think this accomplishes exactly what you set out for. Your descriptions are hilarious, although a little thick at points, but a slash of a sentence or two here or there will fix that. Your characters are familiar, and feels very much like a family. Nice work! Backed!

Anonymous said...

Pete M previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

Yo, I read Chapter 11 - the description is wonderful and the dialogue with the natives quite authentic. The only thing I wold suggest that to resist the temptation to explain things to us, just let the narrative do the work. It'll be fine! For instance, you don't need to inform us of the fact that the racetrack used to be an execution facility - you follow that with a perfectly clear narrative of what she read about what happened there. There are a few instances of it that jerked me out of the story.

Anonymous said...

vanessa lynn previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

Hi Yolanda. As promised, here are my comments as a reader. Como chocolate para agua. This was a thick, velvety read. I'm not sure how to describe how impressed I am with how your vividly painted images pour off the page. The title of your work is perfect. I wish I could view the world through Jol's eyes permanently. She misses nothing. And you feel as though you know her better through what she does observe. It's very clever. Her nomadic escapades remind me of my time in university and the characters she encounters left me smiling and nodding in that "oh yes, I know" kind of way.

As a reader, I did find it a bit difficult to understand when in time, where in time, we were supposed to be. I'm not sure if that's a flaw or if I screwed up by starting at chapter 6 and 7 and then going to 1. Sometimes I had this strange sense of deja vu. I also found myself wanting to scream at people that Jol encounters. I do not know if it is because it was hard to tell whether people were saying things to her in a "funny sarcastic" way, or if they were just plain awful. Sometimes she responded with "Cheeky" when I would have responded with an F off.

Regardless, as a reader, I would want this on my nightstand so that I could curl up and view the world through the eyes of an artist.

Anonymous said...

lisawb previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

This is brilliant reading. I personally love to read and learn at the same time. I have an interest in Portugal as a few years back my family visited Caveiro, and fell in love with the Portuguese people who are very friendly. Some of the locals showed us their homes.

Back to the book, loved the introduction, and then quickly engaged with the flat and Chris and Tim. Your characters are well built very quickly, and the research and information in the book lifts it to the highest of rankings. The cover is great and the creativity flows. The book is talented like the author. I would buy this and back it with ease.

Anonymous said...

Antonio previously wrote on www.authonomy.com

Hi Yolanda

You have asked me to review half a chapter based on my knowledge of Shanghai. My research of the city in the 1930’s was fifty years before the date of your novel, but I would make the following comments, some of which may be of interest

Importing of opium began in the early 18th century and was subsequently banned by the Chinese However the East India Company started to import opium in large quantities from 1783. Large numbers of Chinese became addicted. The first opium war started in 1839 soon after Queen Victoria was crowned. Therefore in my view you cannot say that Queen Victoria rammed opium up the throat of Shanghai. The ‘ramming’ had been going on for fifty years, and was still continuing when war started. I think this needs a little tweaking. Incidentally one of my ancestors fought in the second opium wars in 1856 which is why I did some research on this.

On the same subject I’m not sure that modern day Chinese still hold a grudge against the British for those dreadful years. However I suggest you contact Steve Hawgood - ‘Hing-dai Brothers’ He lives in Hong Kong and is married to a Chinese lady and would have a view on that.

Certainly when I was in China briefly in the 1970’s foreigners were ‘stared at’ and although travel restrictions had eased by 1987 I’m sure that the same applied then. Even these days, having watched on TV the mixed crowds at the international golf tournament there at the weekend, I’m sure that the older population still call outsiders ‘foreign devils’ just as they did in my days in Hong Kong. Limiting to this to a staccato one-liner is a clever touch.

It is a little difficult to comment on half a chapter and I’ve tried to give you my feedback based on what I know of Shanghai. I hope some of it helps

Anonymous said...

Yolandapreviously replied on www.authonomy.com

Thank you for the notes about opium trading, of course I will be very careful before publication, but for now I am happy to be aware of Lin the Clear Sky's 'memorial' to Queen Victoria, asking to stop the opium exports in his country, so despite your real connection, for now, it will do...

Update 30.1.2013: Antonio if you were to read this, I could let you know that I am re-writing the whole 56 thousand words, and at last feel as though I have found my stride. best, Yolanda

Pauline Griffiths said...

Pauline Griffiths
I like the very descriptive start and your use of adjectives - it sets the story off well and sets the scene nicely. Some fabulous adjectives and picture painting, although I must confess I don't know the meaning of some of the words used.
I felt that I wanted to read more ... and surely that's a great compliment to you the writer!
Some of the prose is just pure poetry - use of some words just perfect to form a true picture in the mind. You obviously have a way with words. Your compilation of sentences is a work of art in themselves. You build pictures very easily in the reader's mind. A true gift methinks.
I felt good reading this first chapter and would happily read on ... lovely observations of the characters you're introducing into the story. Well Yolanda … I would summarise by saying that the way you write enthrals me … so well done on getting this far. Will definitely buy your book when it comes onto the market.

- - - - - - - said...

Pauline,
Thank you so much for taking the time out to read my chapter. I really appreciate it.

I'm aiming to put the book on Amazon Kindle at the end of March. That's inspired by your own recent publication Pauline, and you might just have saved me... from a fate worse than death... the Inland Revenue.
best love,
Yolanda
P.S. I have a naughty love scene in Chapter 5 now.

- - - - - - - said...

Hi everyone,
Please to say that my first novel is available on Amazon, just go to Amazon, select 'Books' and type my name in.

I have started to get reviews, which feels wonderful.

Mark Henderson said...

Ending Part One on such a cliffhanger is a commercially as well as artistically clever touch! All your readers will be queuing up for Part Two.

You already know my opinion of this novel. Any would-be writer can see it's the result of a great deal of hard work and redrafting, but it reads smoothly and never ceases to be engaging, almost as though it wrote itself. The balance between humour and tension is just about perfect, and so is the narrative pace. The characterisation is delightful, and the sense of place is immediate and three-dimensional. Not surprisingly for an artist, it's a predominantly visual book, but the other senses are engaged as well. The magical-realism touches, notably the slipping-between-worlds during the visit to Hong Kong, are excellent, not least because you handle them with such a light and dextrous touch.

I particularly liked the way your narrative evokes actual and remembered experience. Sometimes there are snapshot images with little detail, some of them with no obvious connection with the others. Elsewhere a scene is played out in detail. This contrast contributes a lot to the reader's appreciation and understanding of the protagonist's character, and it's something very few writers can do effectively.

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Mark, how lovely of you to write this. I will speak to you in person soon.

- - - - - - - said...

An American colleague of mine has commented on my American accent in the video-readings:

"Your "American" accent is a little too western (a cross between "cowboy" and 1940's New York). Try it as if you were a news anchor reading."

Good to know, but if I try to imitate a news anchor reading, I just know I will sound worse...

Aigburthvale said...

Gosh! well done Yolande. I was in your 'A' level art class at Aigburth Vale High School-with Mary Talbot (wonder how she is?) Also, Cheryl R, Diane M, Sharron (?) (from Reigate Rd). Sure there were others but it was a VERY small class! all us artie-folk amongst the great and good academics of the local Grammar School.
GF (was Owens)
haha got a 'B' re-sat it in 2004 30yrs later and got ........................another 'B'
Clearly you were A* much love xxxxxx

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hello... this is very tantalising as you do not give your whole name. Oh dear, am I to be left guessing?

warm wishes,
Yolanda

Peter Shoesmith said...

This is not my first review of 'Eye of an Artist' and I don't think it will be my last. What can I say? If you have not got hold of a copy of this 'joy to read' then what are you talking about with your friends and neighbours? I see many with their 'Kindles' on the tube trains and I guess they are all reading 'Eye of an Artist'. For me, one of its many features is the ease with which it can be read - this is not a hard read. In the past I've picked up a book and 'my golly' what a slog!! Not this one - you are carried along, lead by the hand and introduced to characters you are just dying to know more about and a London that reminds you of 'Happier Day's. Maybe it's a London that sadly doesn't really exist any more - Colourful, vibrant, cosmopolitan and yet very British. 'Eye of an Artist' has all the hallmarks of a classic of English literature. In years to come I can well see it on the list of 'required reading' of English language students. You however, don't have to wait that long you can GET IN NOW!!

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19.11.2013, Don McCullen, a respected war photographer, has suggested -- according to newspapers today -- that we photographically record contemporary poverty in the UK. I'll be endeavouring to do my bit when I can.