Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Austen Fairy Tale

So, hello there, internet.


It's called The Austen Fairy Tale, and, as you probably can gather, it's a collection of mash-ups between Jane Austen's six novels and classic fairy tales. See, I was reading Kelsey Bryant's Suit and Suitability, and remembered that I'd always wanted to retell Jane Austen's novels. With fairy tales. And my brain went into hyperdrive picking out fairy tales to go with the novels. For each, I wanted a fairy tale that had similar themes, characters, or plots. I had to ask around on a few of them, but I think I've come up with a pretty good line up. Shall we proceed? (I have organized these in the order that the original novels were published, as that's the order that I also plan to publish these. Just as an aside.)

Worldbuilding for this world has been interesting, as it includes elemental magic (an addiction of mine), and a number of mystical creatures.

(I also distracted myself by making gorgeous mock covers for all six books. Call it graphic art practice...)

 First off, we have Rose Petals and Snowflakes, aka Sense and Sensibility. This one is, perhaps, the most immediate and intuitive of my selections, and one of only two that I haven't had anyone question. S&S is a tale of sisters, so, of course, I went for a fairy tale that focused on a pair of sisters - Snow White and Rose Red. 

So I'm combining Elinor with Rose Red and Marianne with Snow White. Colonel Brandon gets to be the bear. I am making Einrose and Snowmari princesses, and their father is dying as the book opens. There is an element that I plan to steal from the regular Snow White, and there is some set-up that I'm taking from The Six Swans, so that's been fun. Also creepy, magical forests = life. Am I right?

This one actually has been started and I've made it through a two chapters and 5,000 words. It's been awesome.

Then we have Crown and Cinder, aka, Pride and Prejudice. This is one I thought was intuitive, but I've had a couple people squint at me and go "I don't see it - this should be Beauty and the Beast." But, I don't really feel B&B from P&P. This is a story about class distinction, falling in love at balls, and dysfunctional families ... and, to me, there is no fairy tale that supports that story line as much as Cinderella

Of course, this is more of a "Pride and Prejudice completely derails Cinderella" retelling, featuring a Lizzy as a fire-wielding cinder in a country where cinders are not well-trusted. Janet and Lavina are the stepsisters, and I've moved the other two Bennet sisters to "friend" status. (And, possibly, combined them with other characters.)

This one has also been started, but I so far only have the introduction. But it includes an awesome twist on P&P's opening line and I love it.

Then we have Emmazel, long for Emma. This one is probably the least intuitive, and I actually had a girl tell me that it was the most impossible choice I could have made. But, hear me out. What are the biggest obstacles to Emma's happiness? Her pride, of course ... but also, her father. Now, don't get me wrong, he's one of my favorite characters in the book, and she loves him dearly, but the fact remains that he has tied her to himself and she would sacrifice her own happiness to ensure his. And so, and maybe it was because I had the fairy tale on my brain thanks to the Arista challenge, but I went with Rapunzel. 

Emma, of course, will be combined with the titular character, and her father will be a hypochondriac wizard who puts her in the tower to keep her safe from the world. Mrs. Bates will be a herbalist that lives nearby and who the Wizard hires to train Emma with her plant magic. Isabella, Anne, and Harriet will be a series of companions that the Wizard had procured to take care of her and keep her company ... and who Emma processes to marry off to the princes who are trying to rescue her. (Emma has a small obsession with love potions, much to her father's annoyance). Jury's out as to how Emma came to be the Wizard's daughter, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

And Knightly ... is a black cat named Knight. Inspired by Salaam from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Yes, there will snark. Loooooots of snark.

 And now we get into the Austen novels that I ... haven't actually read. *glances about nervously.* Now, I promise that I WILL read them before I retell them, and I am acquainted with their plots thanks to reviews, wiki's, etc. But, this is why I had to do asking around for some of the novels.

However. I did come up with Winter Palace on my own. WP is a retelling of Mansfield Park, and I admit that this is the retelling that I'm least sure about, but everyone who has read both the book and my chosen fairy tale seems to like it. As I understand it, MP is the story of a girl who's in love with a close childhood friend (cough, her cousin). But he doesn't really see her that way, and falls for someone else instead - and the book's about how she keeps him out of the girl's clutches. Now, that might be an over-simplification, but it was enough for me to choose The Snow Queen to match it. 

Since I've not read the book yet, I can't tell you how things are going to line up and go down, but it's going to be exciting. 

And then we have the one for Northanger Abby, that took me the loooooongest to pin down, and I actually have Kelsey Bryant herself to thank for the suggestion. Creepy gothic mansions, a heroine who loves to read - what fairy tale could be more perfect than Beauty and the Beast

Except ... I actually have a second fairy tale planned for this one as well, as a plot twist. It also features roses as a motif, but that's all I'm going to say about it. (Roses are a common motif in fairy tales.) 

This is the Austen novel that I know the least about (though I have read its wiki summary), so, again, I can't really tell you how things are going to line-up and go down, but let's just say ... it's going to be a roller coaster. And I might have a sword-wielding Charis. I know she doesn't have any personal magic, but Pinterest is trying to sell me on her having a sword. And her not liking the fact that she has a sword. mwahahahaha.

 Then, finally, we have Prevailing Winds which is a retelling of Persuasion. I've actually started reading Persuasion, a couple years ago, but I'd only made it a couple of chapters before review books took precedence, and I never got back into it. *sigh* But I actually have Jenelle Leanne Schmidt to thank for this book's fairy tale. I had been considering Snow White, thanks to a post someone had done in the Rooglewood group, but I wasn't sold on it, due to already having two other snow-themed books in the collection, one of them Snow White and Rose Red. And so when Jenelle suggested Little Mermaid, I was immediately sold. 

After all, they're both about a forbidden romance. 

Now, the plan is for PW is to be more of a sequel to LM than anything else - with the twist being that, instead of trading her fins for legs, she realized that it wasn't worth it, and gave him up instead. And now it's been a few years and her underwater kingdom's in trouble and she has to go to land to save it. Or something, hazy on the details. I just know that she's going to go to land as a human, reunite with her former lover, and he's not going to recognize her 'cause it's been a few years and he's used to her with fins.

It's gonna be awesome.

But, yes, that's the line-up. Which of these is your favorites? Any that you just don't get? Feel free to check out the gorgeous pinterest Board that I have for the series. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Colors: A Poem

We lived in a land
With no smiles or frowns,
But eyes that betrayed 
Emotion with color

Yet we did not know
We did not understand
That there was no rule
No two people saw color 
The same way

Jeana saw red and feared.
Paul embraced it with passion.
Rhanna's love was violet
And Nod saw purple with disgust

I looked in your eyes, 
Blue as the sky
I thought I saw peace there
For that is how I saw blue

But your blue was sadness
And that is why I never understood
Why you left.

Also, Water Princess, Fire Prince is currently free, as it was selected for Book of the Month by Fellowship of Fantasy's book club.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

My Favorite Indie Contemporaries

Soooooo ... it came to my attention, as I finished filming my show-off the other night ... I don't own any indie contemporary.

Therefore, I'm going to feature contemporary over here. What little I've read. *sigh*

I have nothing against the genre ... just, when you've led as difficult a life as I have, the cutesy Contemporary seems too superficial, and the feelsy Contemporary must be taken in small doses. Spoiler alert: Almost every book below is a feelsy.

So, in no particular order:

First off, we have The Brother I Remember, a book which I did a critique swap on and the only critique I had for it was "You need a better title." The author, regretfully, did not heed my advice. Nevertheless, it's a touching story about a girl's repaired relationship with her brother after tragedy strikes. Also, ice dancing. p="">

Second off ... Okay, I will confess, this book DOES have fantasy elements. But the main story is contemporary and the "fantasy" part of it is the book that the main character is writing. Which may or may not be creeping into reality. A ... cousin? of mine wrote this book, and it's only available in paperback, but it's really good.

This is a suspense romance that is written by another cousin of mine - to be specific, the cousin who did the original covers for the Bookania Quests. It's really fun, and I enjoyed my read of it even though I was still deep within my hoyden stage. I'd probably rate it higher now than I did then. Also, it's only available on kindle. (these cousins of mine)
(And, yes, her last name is Ingalls. Her husband is descended from Laura Ingalls Wilder's aunt and uncle)

Probably the only "cutsey" story on here. I read this on-whim towards the end of last year in a mad-dash to reach my reading goal for the year. It's a fun take on Cinderella, and very twisty. I quite liked it.

One of the books that I read for Indie e-Con this year, this was a lovely modernization of the Good Samaritan. Very well done and realistic - my only complaint is that the book climaxed in the middle, so the second half kind of dragged. Still a lovely story.

Ugh. My poor heart on this one. While it needs a better cover, and there was some editing that made me wince, this story utterly tore out my heart and crushed it on the floor in a million pieces. 

Fun fact: My grandparents used to be foster parents. As such, this was another touching story that very much pulled at my heartstrings and felt very personal. Ugh.

And, finally ... well, this is a stretch of the term "Indie." The author is traditionally published, but this particular short story is her newsletter subscription story, so Imma gonna make it count. I've not read the main series that it goes with, but this story ... and I was actually babysitting the son of a single-mother coworker when I read it, so ... yeah, it got personal.

Annnnnd there we go. My shelf of Indie Contemporary. How about you, what's the best indie contemporary that you've ever read? Read any of these?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Writing with the Five Love Languages

As I mentioned on Saturday, I'm holding Indie e-Con over on the GiraffeCrafts blog. BUT, just to make sure that you guys are aware of it, I am going to be posting a few articles over here. My own articles, that is, just as all of the other authors are posting articles on their blogs for cross-promotion. (Yay!)

Now, onto my article! Today's theme is romance, so into the untried waters of love I go.

I've never been in a relationship, yet I insist on writing romance into my writing (don't ask me why!). Therefore, most of what I write is based off either (a) observing people around me, and (b) reading - especially marriage counseling books. (Honestly, you'd think I WAS in a failing relationship with as many marriage counseling books as I've read.)

One of the books that I've found most helpful has been "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. Why? Because, like personality types, the book lays forward a "formula" that allows me to create deeper, more dynamic characters.

(Please note that the system itself is NOT a formula, I just use it as one when applying it to character creation.)

So, what are the five love languages? Well, I'm not going to spend too much time on each one, given that there's a whole book written on it (several books, more accurately), but I'll give some examples of each:

Touch: Hugging, kissing, snuggling, handholding - basically, positive physical contact.
Words of Affirmation: "I love you," "You're doing a good job," "That was beautiful cake you made," "Have I ever told you how much you mean to me?" Basically, verbal acknowledgments of love and empowerment.
Gifts: Flowers, a card, a car, jewelry, a stone you picked up by the side of the road - this can be anything really, just as long as you're giving an object.
Quality Time: Watching a movie together, going on a hike together, reading books together, deep conversations together - just, general emphasis on time spent together. 
Acts of Service: Taking out the trash, cleaning a room, fixing the computer, doing a chore - basically, doing things for the other person. A lot like gifts, but with the emphasis on time and actions over money and objects.

No one of these languages is "better" than any of the others, and, in a healthy individual, none of them are a statement of hatred (there are exceptions, usually because someone in the person's past abused that love language), but everyone "speaks" them in a different order. Your primary love language means infinitely more to you than one from the bottom, for instance. And you're quicker to speak your first few than you ever will the latter ones. I've ordered the above in the order that I speak them, but my sister actually speaks them in pretty much opposite order (it makes our relationship interesting.)

So how does this affect writing? Well, in helping develop your characters and strengthen their relationships, of course.

I admit that I don't have a language order for every one of my characters, but I have them for most of my main couples, and I'm going to discuss three of them for the purpose of this post (but with names removed as some of them are spoilers.) All three couples come from very different backgrounds, and I will discuss that as well, because that can influence HOW the love languages are spoken.

(I also would like to state that knowing your own love language is vitally important, as it WILL creep in and affect your couples. I don't know how often I've had to dial back on handholding and hugging because it doesn't fit with a couple. The first couple that I will mention especially.)

So, couple #1.
Her love languages: Words, Time, Acts, Touch, Gifts
His love languages: Acts, Words, Gifts, Time, Touch.
This is a couple who started out as rivals. She's insecure in herself, especially as there were several people important to her who didn't speak her language very well, and he admires her but doesn't know what to do with her temper.
They fall in love when they're forced to spend time together and she finally hears him express his admiration for her. He offers to take her places that she's never been before, which for him is an act of service, but she interprets it through quality time.
Strains on their relationship: Mostly the fact that spending time together isn't as important to him as it is to her, and occasionally the fact that his acts of service can translate into protectiveness, and she is fiercely independent.

Couple #2.
Her love languages: Words, Touch, Gifts, Time, Acts
His love languages: Acts, Time, Gifts, Words, Touch.
Now, this pair is fun, due to how little they seem to have in common. This is one of my arranged marriage couples, and neither of them is quite happy with the affair at first. However, the disparity of their love languages actually proves to be a saving grace for them, as her barbed insults don't hurt him as much as someone to whom words are everything. Another saving grace for them is the fact that his dad's primary love language was touch, so when confronted with the need to comfort his new wife, the fellow draws on the memory of his parents and offers physical comfort, even though it's not his natural inclination.
Strains on their relationship: The fact that their languages are in almost complete reverse of each other. When stress hits, frequently forget how to speak or understand the other's love language. Theirs is a very uphill battle all through their relationship. They love each other, but a lot of it is an "us against the world" mentality alongside a strong commitment to their marriage vows. I think I've plotted more out-and-out fights between this couple than I have for any other.

Couple #3.
Her love languages: Time, Acts, Touch, Gifts, Words.
His love languages: Touch, Words, Time, Gifts, Acts.
This couple grew up together and were best friends before they were lovers. As such, they are well acquainted with each other's personalities. Even as the book opens, they're both already very good at speaking each other's languages  - not perfect, by any means, but they still communicate easily, though she's a little bit better as she translates touch through acts of service. In fact, it's very possible that they are aware of their love languages. They live in our world, after all, and categorizing and research is an addiction of hers.
Strains on their relationship: When one forgets to speak the other's love language. Especially their secondary love languages. It doesn't happen very often, but stress will get to even the healthiest of relationships.

As you may gather from this list, there is no "perfect" formula. A healthy couple has their differences and learns to succeed despite those differences.

So, some tips to sum this up:

1. While it is possible for an action to be spoken one way, as in the case of couple 1, it can also be a source of letdown when the receiver realizes that they had misunderstood their partner.

2. Touch can be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. It's more than just the passionate kissing. It's about the little moments of physical contact - brushing fingers, a pat on the back, kiss to the forehead - that anchors a person and says "you're not alone." Indeed, for me, since quality time is lower down, I don't even care for prolonged snuggling all that much. (Though that might also have to do with the fact that I live in Texas where it's hot).

3. Most healthy individuals do not interpret any of the love languages as hate, but abuse can destroy positive pathways - especially for a person's inferior languages. Someone who has been in a relationship where "I love you" was just lip service might no longer believe that the words even mean anything. My sister has a sensory processing disorder, and she can't stand being touched unless you're very gentle. Also, the further down a language is, the harder it is for them to restore the positive association.

So, do you know your Love Language? If you're a writer, can you name the love language of at least one of your characters?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt - Stop 24

Hey all! Remember Indie e-Con, the shin-ding I put together last year? Tons of fun, wasn't it? Well, I'm doing it again, but this year over on my new GiraffeCrafts blog. Next week. *screams*

Anywho, in build-up for Indie e-Con, we're holding a scavenger hunt. You know, the sort where you hop from blog to blog and end up with a string of something that you email to someone and get a prize.

Well, there's a number at the end of this post that you'll be collecting.

As for the prize? It's pretty shiny, too.

Ace Carroway 2-Book Paperback Set
3 random ebooks from Indie e-Con authors
Cover Design by Alea Harper
Bookshelf Necklace donated by Rachel Rossano

(Please note that the Ace Carroway Paperbacks and the Bookshelf necklace are US only. If your name is drawn and you live outside the U.S, you will be supplemented with extra ebooks, and a second name will be drawn to receive the papberbacks and necklace)

And, yes, that's the self-same Alea Harper who designs the graphics for Indie e-Con, and who did the covers for both my Rizkalands and the Ankulen. Whoever gets their name drawn is in for a TREAT.

Please note that this is the LAST stop on the hunt, however, so please yourself over to Kandi Wyatt's blog and

Have you read everyone else's posts? Well, onto the author I'm featuring. Guy Worthy. Guy's the author of the Ace Carroway books that someone will be winning, and I've read the first one. An interesting little story that reminded me a bit of Hogan's Heroes. (No, I'm not dating myself ... my mom made my sister and I watch all of the old shows ;) Just set in WWI, instead of II, and with a sixteen-year-old female pilot in place of Hogan. (Which ... is historically inaccurate, but the author admits it, and I don't think a fellow could get away with what Ace did.) My one complaint about the story is that Ace is a bit on the Mary Sue-ish side, as I never really saw her struggle with anything until nearly the end of the book, but I'm hoping that the next book shows more development for her character.

On to what Guy has to say.

Hello! My name is Guy Worthey. I’m @guyworthey on twitter and @guywortheyauthor on facebook and I blog at guyworthey.net.

I write a novella series about Ace Carroway and her adventures in a world that’s almost 1920s earth. The stories are old-fashioned yarns with dastardly villains, narrow escapes, humorous banter, and outrageous plots. Our dauntless hero is Cecilia “Ace” Carroway. She’s strong and smart, and trained throughout childhood to get that way. She leads a marginally-organized gaggle of five male associates of various shapes, sizes, abilities, and dispositions. But let’s yak about inspiration.

One item a writer needs is inspiration. This can be anything. Today, for example, I was chatting with my son. He showed us how he persuaded a computer program for electronic music to find a pitch from his cello input and match it with a synthesized tone. BOOM. Inspiration. My mind drifted to an E. E. “Doc” Smith space opera where spaceship pilots were described as artists, as their feet and hands danced on all the controls. Suddenly, I had a vision of an organist improvising a musical riff, and the music gets interpreted as control sequences for the spaceship. This sort of pilot would control the spaceship by composing music in real time. I know that’s awful heady and nerdy, but, hey, that’s me. This idea went into my little notebook of random synapse firings for potential later use.

A couple of things inspired me to write Ace Carroway stories. One is a deep and abiding nostalgia for pulp fiction, especially the more fantastic stories such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, or the Tom Swift and Doc Savage stories. One example of pulp fiction is “Doc Savage and the Polar Treasure.” The Doc Savage stories were written by ghost writers, but all the early ones were by ghost writer Lester Dent. It’s short, action-packed, and a bit bizarre. The characters are sharply drawn. It gives the reader the feeling that they are in the hands of a good storyteller, but the reader cannot guess how the tangled threads will connect at the end. That’s the sort of thing I strive for with the Ace Carroway stories.

The number two inspiration was feminism. It’s high time for smart, strong heroines. By day, I’m an astrophysicist. In that field, even forty years ago, gender equality was a hallmark. Not a soul would claim that men were inherently more suited for astronomical pursuits. And yet, today, the day I write this (May 13, 2018, for the record) that pernicious 15% pay disparity hangs on, giving lie to our noble intentions and righteous words. If men and women are treated equally and esteemed equally, why are women paid less? The obvious answer is that bias remains. I’ve been on committees that research this bias (let me be clear: I study stars and galaxies, not people, so I mostly just listen and learn when I attend such meetings), and the causes are complicated. There are institutional biases, societal biases, biases regarding childbirth and child rearing, and even patterns of language usage that affect downstream pays scales.

Anyway, long story short, I like to dream up ways that men and women can retain their romantic sizzle and chemical attraction while still treating each other with mutual respect. And so, turnabout being fair play, putting a woman in charge is an excellent way to reveal gender based power politics, and so I have leapt into the fray with Ace. I feel that I need to put in a disclaimer: you’ll hopefully never consciously notice the feminism in the stories. Ace fights bad guys. She does not organize leaflet campaigns. In fact, most of the feminism gets displayed via her associates. I’m not likely to write about a construction worker whistling at Ace, but if he did, it would be one of the associates that would come over and break the whistler’s nose, not Ace.

My final inspiration is dorky: I just wanted to spin some fun blarney.

Anything from a romance that breaks up to a stubbed toe can be inspiration for a story or a character. I guess the bottom line is to pay attention. Writers observe.

With that said, “Here’s looking at you!”

This is an 8, by the by, not a fancy S. Which is what I might have thought it was when I first saw it...

Now, take it and all of the other letters that you've been collecting and fill in the blanks below:

You can pop your results into this form here! (And please note that, yes, Kyle Robert Shultz's and Guy Worthy's letters are backwards. We had to swap their positions in the hunt at the last moment and completely forgot to get them to trade graphics. So sorry!)

If this is where you're starting, please hop over to Kandi Wyatt's blog, to find my guest post which is the start of this journey. To find a list of all of the blogs, in order, go here.

Done with the adventure? You're welcome to join us over at FB for the Meet-and-Greet, where several of us and some more authors, are going to be hanging out and being awesome! 
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