Friday, February 28, 2014


And here we come to the third chapter of Sew, It’s a Quest. Sorry about this taking so long … but I will get through the whole book – honest I will. It just might take a year or so.

Sleepyhead Robin
I’ve mentioned that Robin’s habit of losing her lists comes from me, but here’s another trait that she gets from her beloved author. She’s not a morning person. Until getting a job back in November that requires me to be there at seven every morning, I would routinely sleep until noon (having been up way past midnight the night before).

I have fond memories of many a Sunday morning back when I was but a child when my parents would be trying to get me out of bed so we could be to church on time. I slept on the top bunk, and if I pressed myself against the wall, my mother couldn’t reach me with the paddle. Therefore, she had to resort to other techniques, like Robert does here. There was the ever present threat of going to church in my pajamas (she never did succeed in making good that threat!) and sometimes she’d threaten a water bottle. If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s getting wet when I’m asleep.

And I’m certain that these memories were strong in my head as I wrote this scene. Like with my mother and myself, it’s not with physical means that Robert succeeds in getting Robin out of bed, but with the threat of not going on their quest, the threat of their mother finding out.

Her outfit
Again, I describe Robin’s outfit, this time to contrast it with the finery that she had worn two chapters before when she was masquerading as a proper princess. Now we see her in the guise she’s comfortable in.

To tell the truth, when I wrote this scene, I didn’t have a clear mental image of either the leather outfit (beyond the fact that it was brown) or the “hasty haphazard knot.” Since then, I have discovered this outfit, which is close enough. It’s six hundred dollars, or otherwise I would have jumped for it (because it also comes in brown).

As for the hairdo, the main reason I didn’t know what it looked like was that at the time, my hair was barely past my shoulders and I was unable to do the necessary experiments to come up with it. I knew that it didn’t have any pins of any sort, but that was about it. Since then, my hair has grown out, and I have developed a pin-free knot that stays very well, and actually doesn’t look too bad.

On another side note, until I wrote this scene, I had always pictured Robin with straight hair. After this scene, it gained my own hair texture.

Their horses.
I have a confession. I’m not a horse person, or an animal person period. But horses are the staple ingredient of any member of royalty going on a planned quest, so of course I had to give horses to Robin and Robert.

I do enjoy naming animals, so I naturally gave the two horses names. I also tried to match the horses to their rider’s personalities. A fiery red mare for Robin, and a gentler palomino for Robert. I chose the name Snow, because it was something I’d do (I like to name animals based on their appearance), but I don’t remember why I named Robert’s horse Splash.

Prepared Robert
As I read through this scene, I only become more sure that Robin would have never ventured this quest on her own. Even if she had, she probably wouldn’t have gotten very far. She’s incapable of seeing the little details that are involved in the process. It’s Robert who has them wake up early, arranges for guards to look the other way, saddles the horses, and makes sure Robin eats some breakfast.

Sigh, I sometimes wish I had such a thoughtful brother in my life.

And they’re off
Thanks to the fact that they have their father’s permission and to all of Robert’s careful plans, they leave without any trouble.

Robin seems so much more excited about this fact than her brother. I’m sure he feels some level of success, but I don’t think his heart is quite in this. We don’t see his thoughts, but Robin does have some remorse in leaving her home – which she won’t see again for at least four months (it turns out to be nearly six, thanks to the events of Take, but we won’t get into that at this moment.)

Surely if Robin, who has always dreamed of questing, is having second thoughts, surely her homebody Robert is doing so as well.

Into the Unknown
Robin initially meets with disappointment in the fact that their journey takes them in the direction of “grandmother’s.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what “grandmother” she was talking about, but I now know that she spoke of their mother’s family, the Germains of the neighboring country.

And her we hear her voice her dependence on her brother. It’s not something that she would, in a million years, consciously admit to, but it’s quite clear that she’s the one along for the ride in this story. I think she’s got the better end of the deal, but Robert seems content. He did, of course, agree to the affair, and he did, of course, plan everything. He even had planning meetings, much to Robin’s surprise!

And here is another mention of Meg, who Robin is clearly very dependent on. I’m not sure where she was in the opening of the chapter, because after working with her character in Take, I would have thought she’d be there to make sure her princess was ready to face the world … but perhaps it was so that, if questioned by the twins’ mother, she could confess true ignorance about how and when the twins escaped.

Reading this scene from the vantage of having written a certain chapter in Kingdom, the mention of Robert’s notes in conjunction with Robin’s maid is amusing.

They get to the fork in the road, and they take a path that they’ve never been down before, and Robin is quite pleased with that affair. It finally feels like an adventure!

And here we finally have Robert voice his opinion about the quest. He’s only here because he’s fed up with being teased. He doesn’t mention that he’s also here to keep Robin from getting herself killed or worse, but that’s because Robin would take offense to him admitting that he doesn’t trust her on her own.

Robin’s protection instincts kick in at the mention of teasing. She wants to know who’s teasing her brother so that she can make them see the error of their ways.

Part of this is that she herself doesn’t like the sting that comes from her princess peers teasing her, and because she has such a strong bond with her brother. But believe it or not, it’s actually part of her gift kicking in. Part of being the best swordsman in the world is chivalry, and part of chivalry is that you can’t see someone being mistreated by someone stronger without retaliating. I’m not sure that Robert recognizes the fact that this is part of her gift, but it’s clear that he wants to fight his own fights.

Lunch and a swordfight
Robert’s mention that “you fight enough princes as it is” is illustrated just a few hours later when they stop for lunch. Maybe she doesn’t walk in with plans to start a swordfight, but when she sees the sword of their new acquaintance, and he clearly condemns her brother for not carrying one, she can’t resist. She goads the young man into challenging her, and then promptly sends his sword into a tree, offering only a helpful, “Climb! It’s good exercise” when he wants to know what he’s going to do with his sword’s new home.

As she confides in her brother, the young man needed someone to teach him a lesson, and why shouldn’t it be her?

Favorite Lines:

“Robin! Robin! Wake up!”
“Five more minutes,” Robin muttered, pulling a pillow over her head.
“We don’t have five more minutes,” said Robert, pulling the pillow off of her head. “We have to leave before dawn, while it’s still dark, remember?”
“I’m tired,” Robin argued, pulling another pillow over her head. “Go away!”
“Didn’t you sleep last night?” Robert asked, pulling this pillow off her head, and grabbing two others before she could reach them.

After a few minutes of silence, Robin said, “We do know where we’re going? We do have a plan? I mean, you usually do.”
“What?” said Robert. “Didn’t you come to any of the planning meetings?”
“Uh,” said Robin, “we had planning meetings?”
“Didn’t you read the notes I sent you?” said Robert with an amused shake of his head.
“They’re all in a pile on my desk,” said Robin with a shrug. “I figured that if it were anything really important, you’d tell me yourself.”
“You made it to all the fitting sessions in time,” said Robert.
“Meg told me about those sort of things,” said Robin.

“I bet you think yourself good,” she said, eying him thoughtfully.
“Fairly,” the man answered with a prideful air.
“I don't believe you.”
“Then would you like a friendly challenge?” he asked.
“I’ve never been known to turn one down,” said she.
“Don’t worry,” said the man, “I’ll take it easy on you. After we finish eating, how about?”
“Sounds good,” said Robin.
Needless to say, twenty minutes later, he was staring forlornly up at his fancy sword, now lodged in a tree trunk, a full thirty feet off the ground.
“Hey!” he shouted after Robin and Robert, who had remounted and were riding away. “How am I supposed to get it down?”
“Climb!” Robin shouted back at him. “It’s good exercise!”

Discussion Questions
1.      1. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
2.      2. Do you think Robert wants to be on this quest? If not, why do you think he has agreed to it?
3.     3.  Do you think Robin would have succeeded in running away if he hadn’t come?
4.      Any favorite lines?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CE Valentine's Date - Nutcracker Jr.

So a fast food lobby isn't the most romantic place to spend Valentine's day, but, hey, I don't have any guy in my life. Besides, this is where I work, and I just got off and my dad isn't here to get me yet. I've got my computer, though, and I'm quite happy to sit in the lobby exploring the internet and pretending I'm a normal civilian.

"Ah, I thought I might find a certain beautiful young lady here."

It's a man's voice, and at first I assume it's directed to someone other than myself - men don't usually flirt with me unless I'm behind the counter ringing up their order - but then I look up and see him.

He's standing right in front of me, dark brown hair and eyes, tall, and wearing a blue suit that reminds me of the American uniforms that I've seen all of the generals wearing in the Revolutionary War shows I've been watching recently. (That's what my little brother's studying right now).

And he's staring right at me.

Nervously, I fiddle with the end of my ponytail. "Are ... you talking to me?"

"Of course I am, Kendra," he replies, smiling. "How many other lovely young ladies are there here?"

I glance around the lobby, personally able to count a few others, but a sudden realization snaps my attention back to him. "How do you know my name?" My name tag is off (and my uniform covered by a sweater) and I don't think he's one of the regulars who have my name memorized.

"I suppose you're more used to me as a figurine on your shelf, aren't you?" he acknowledges, tilting his head to the side.

I gasp, and slowly stand up. "You're the nutcracker!"

"Close enough," he admits. "I'm his son, but I followed his fate, so ... You're shorter than I always thought you were."

I blush as a thousand thoughts chase themselves through my head. The nutcracker is standing in front of me. MY nutcracker. I've been telling people for years that one of them would come to life one day ... and ... "What's your name?" I ask.

"I'm afraid that I don't have one yet. You haven't given me one."

My face clouds with confusion. "But ... you ..."

"I'm sorry if I've mislead you," he says with a shake of his head. "I'm the titular character of your Nutcracker's Son. We characters thought that you seemed lonely this Valentine's day, and Gina insisted that I take you out. She's generous like that."

My heart falls. "So ... this is only a Character Encounter?"

"I'm afraid so, dear author." He holds out an arm. "But that doesn't mean that I don't intend for you to enjoy yourself today in the land of sweets."

"The land of ..."

"Of course."

Numbly, I accept his arm. This is the second time that a character has taken me into their realm on an encounter. Last time, however ... there weren't as many people around.

I open my mouth to protest, but he just winks and pulls me away towards the drink station. Glancing around, I realize that the room has been frozen in time - even my coworkers behind the counter aren't moving. I gasp as we step on a certain tile, and we find ourselves falling through vanilla-scented air. My sweater and black pants turn into a beautiful flowing dress in my favorite shade of fuchsia.

We land at the top of a hill coated in pink sugar, where a picnic has been set up. The nutcracker's son helps me to sit (not that I need help, but he's SUCH the gentleman) and then sits down across from me. "I did ask Gina if she wanted to come with us," he admits, opening the picnic basket and handing me a pie. "But she insisted that I take you out all by myself. She's a sweet girl like that."

I smile despite myself. "She knows that she has nothing to fear about her author stealing her love interest."

"Yes, despite how charming and beautiful you are, you're so frustratingly real, and I so fictional. If only I were more than just a figment in your head."

"Maybe once I actually get your book written ..." I sigh. "But first I need to name you!"

He raises an eyebrow. "You don't need to be in such a rush to find me the perfect name. I know why you hesitate."

I nod. "It's just that ... ever since I was little, I've wanted to marry the nutcracker ... and to name you ... it'd be so final."

"Well, maybe once you've found a real man and are happily married to him, you'll find it in you to give me a name." He hands me a fork "But until then, I'm quite content to be simply 'the nutcracker's son.'"

I glance from the fork to the pie (no, not a slice of pie, a whole circular nine-inch pie), then up to him. "I guess I can leave you that way ..."

When he forks into the center of the pie in his lap, I decide that's probably what's expected of me. I fork into mine, and discover it to be some sort of tart fruit. Delicious.

"Honestly, I'm not eager to gain a name," he continues. "I know you, Kendra. I've been in your head longer than anyone else, even if you haven't always recognized me. I know that once you give me a name, you will separate me from the Nutcracker you're so in love with, and I'm not eager to loose the connection I have with you. I don't want to become just another love interest for one of your girls. Let me have no name for a little while longer."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Character Tag

Wow, I really need to get back on top of this whole blogging thing. I know that I promised ya'll a post last Thursday or Friday, but ... well ... you see ... 

I believe I've mentioned the fact that my internet has been giving me troubles. It had been, and on Thursday I got so frustrated with it, that I started uninstalling things from my computer to see if I could find what it was that was slowing me down.

And I ... uninstalled my wifi. Yeah ... I've got a computer programmer for a dad, and I made a mistake like that. 

Anyways, after realizing what I did, I wanted the wifi back ... but wifi is a tricky thing. After thirty minutes of being very frantic, I ended up completely resetting my computer to store-purchase state. So I spent the rest of Thursday downloading and reinstalling various programs that I can't live without, such as Dropbox, Chrome, and Open Office. I technically lost all my pictures, but since I happen to have all of them still on disks, that isn't a huge loss. What I miss is all the book cataloging I did last summer, and that really nice new word processor I got from Giveaway of the Day. I'll have to pay 35 bucks if I want it back. (Though I suppose that that's better than paying 100 a year to have Microsoft Word ...)

I'm also missing all of the free games I had amassed, but they're not the end of the world.

Anyways, today, I'm here with a tag from one of my writing friends, Anne-Girl, who's holding the second annual Writer's conference. So far, it's been a lot of fun to read all of her posts!

1. Do you think it's more important to listen to your characters or to follow the idea of the book as originally conceived?

I think it's important that you and your characters sit down and talk through the story carefully. It's not a good idea to let them completely rule the story, but if you don't listen to them, they won't cooperate. Most of my characters respect when I make an executive decision.

2. If you could pick a fictional man to become alive and marry you who would you pick? {note: this is not asking whom you consider the greatest hero but whom you would be the most comfortable spending the rest of your life with}

I've known since before I was two that I was destined for the Nutcracker. Why are we asking this question?

3.  What is your favorite protagonist and antagonist pair?

Are we talking about my own writing or books I've read. I'm going to answer with my own writing.

In that case, my favorite pair is would be Petra and Amber. I haven't talked about Petra much because she belongs to book 2 of the Rizkaland Legends. However, I have talked about Amber, who is also the villain in book 1.

Honestly, I don't think I have a villain and heroine better suited for each other. They're so much alike (they even look alike), but their paths have made them so different. In another life (literally) they would have grown up to be best friends. (Although, in that other life, it's possible that neither would have been born, as Laura points out, so it all comes out in the end). 

I actually feel kinda guilty pitching her as the villain of Water Princess, Fire Prince, for the mere reason that she isn't their enemy. They just get in the way of her way of passing the time while she waits for the day when she can take Rizkaland as her own. The story works, works beautifully, but because she doesn't see them as a threat to herself personally, she really doesn't have as strong a presence in the book as she will in book 2.

4. If you had to do without one of the following in your story which would it be?
 A. The Dark Moment when the hero is at rock bottom and can't do anything
 B. The Moment of Decision when the hero makes an actual goal and starts following it{leading thereby to the story itself}
C. The Resolution the reconciliation of the hero with his or her inner struggles and outer struggles

I'll go with A, as I don't actually have a Dark Moment in all of my books. I don't view it as always necessary. They're nice accessories, but it isn't necessary to plunge every character to rock bottom.

5. In modern fiction which genre do you think shows the most tendency toward good character development?

I don't think any one genre is better than any other when it comes to characters. It depends on the author.
6. Have you ever "fallen for" the villain? {Note I do not mean thought he was a good guy but rather WISHED  he was the good guy and rooted for him}

I have, I know I have ... but I can't name names off the top of my head at the moment.
7. Do you prefer writing about your protagonist or side characters? 

The protagonist is almost always my favorite character - otherwise he wouldn't be the protagonist, but my side characters often have a habit of taking over a story.
8. What do you think is the most cliched and overdone character in fiction?

The Rebellious Princess, which is precisely the reason I pick on her so much. I love writing with cliches because they're actually quite challenging, if you want them new and fresh.

9. Which do you think is more important, making your reader feel or making him think?

I think they're both equally important, but my aim as an author leans more towards thinking. That and laughter.
10.  And lastly what do you think are three most important elements to being a hero?

True bravery (not that he isn't scared of things, but that he doesn't let fear keep him from doing the right thing). loyalty, and a good sense of humor.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Character Encounters - February 2014

Hi, people. I'm here with a rather late Character Encounter.

For those of you who are wondering what's happened to my Author's Commentaries that I've been (not) posting, well, there's a few reasons they've strangely disappeared. Firstly, my computer's been acting up, so writing blog entries have been a pain in the neck. Secondly, typing time has been disappearing of late (thanks to the whole job business ... It'll be twelve weeks this Friday. I'll have outlasted my sister ...) and some of my stories have been distracting me (and I'm sure you don't mind that, as it'll mean more books for ya'll to read sooner rather than later). Thirdly ... and this may sound petty, but I was hoping for a bit better of a reaction to the Commentaries. On the two I have posted, there are a grand total of three comments ... and with only one exception, I know of nowhere outside of my blog where this has been talked about. So ... comment on those two posts, do up some of the fan stuff, and I may be inspired to write these quicker and post them. I do plan to make it to chapter 27 ... though at this rate, I'll be here all year.

Do ya'll mind if I do that? It may mean some AMAZING prizes?

However, if you're looking for a more immediate way to win copies of my books, look at my side bar and you'll see that Booklover's giveaway thing. I'm not sure the link works ... but if you go here, you can enter about a million times, and if you go here, you can read the Valentine's themed interview that they had with me. The nicest part of this giveaway is that you'll receive a whole stack of books. I can vouch for the amazingness of five (of the ones that aren't my own) and the evilness of one. I haven't read some , but I do have most of that sort on my kindle waiting to be read, and I'm sure they're really good.

Go enter. I'm not going to tell you where the Encounter is until you have.

Back? Good. This month, in the spirit of Valentine's day, you will encounter a character on ...

Surprise Date

That's right. This month, for Valentine's day, one of your male characters (or female, if you happen to be a boy, but I don't think I have any guy participants) will take you on a date. I don't care where you go, but have fun!

(And tomorrow's my day off, so I should have my encounter up sometime then)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ready, Set -

 Sigh, somehow, I thought that keeping up with this would have been easier. I should have known better. Here I am on day 2, and I'm five days behind. You guys don't mind if I take two (or five …) months to do this, do you? It may mean more and better prizes? And I need to get this moth's CE up … perhaps I can convince Clara to do it on her blog for me … (She's glaring at me, but I think she might, if only to draw some attention to her blog …)

Anyways, on to day 2 (7?) of the Author's Commentary. Remember, there are a number of prizes you can win by participating – and a number of ways to win them!

Oh, and I've been interviewed over here! Check it out!

Any Sword.
The chapter opens with Robin in the armory trying to find the perfect sword to take on this adventure. You'd think that, since she's the best swordsman in the world, she could use just any old sword she picked up – but while that is technically the case, everyone knows that there's always that one special sword that every swordman (or woman) prefers above all others. Like authors with their pens or pencils. I know I have distinct preferences. (Case in point, Percy with Riptide in the Percy Jackson series … though Riptide is also technically a pen …)

Her father has given her permission to take any sword her heart she wishes … and the choice should be easy – and it is but for the fact that the sword she wants she's not sure her father included in the “any sword.”

Her great-grandfather's sword. The sword that has been her favorite for as long as she can remember. The sword that she used to sneak downstairs and play with. The sword that's been out of reach since her father found out about these escapades.

I wish you guys could read this in light of the scene I'm currently writing in Kingdom. It makes this so much sweeter and meaningful.

Eventually, she decides that it doesn't matter if it's included in the “any sword.” It's the sword she wants, so it's the sword she's going to take.

Great-aunt Talia
Thoroughly determined, Robin marches out of the armory – and nearly runs into her Aunt Talia, who instantly recognizes the sword. But she gives her stamp of approval on Robin running around with it.

But then she completely changes the subject (Though, from having written Take, it's not actually that great of a jump), she wants Robin to find her own aunt – Aunt Madeleine. Great-grandfather's twin sister.

Robin's clearly skeptical – she's never heard of such a person before – but still, she humors her aunt and tells her that they'd ask their Fairy Godmother about her. She's mentally prepared to forget about it at some point however. It'll take more than just the wild story of an old woman who's not completely there, mentally. Little does she know that proof lies behind every tapestried wall … but she's not going to find out about that until later.

Before I leave Great-Aunt Talia, however, I'd like to point out that her name is one that's given to Sleeping Beauty. It's a rarer name (and it's particular version is one of the weirder ones) but, still … since I've been referencing Sleeping Beauty already, it's bound to have meaning. (It's also the name of the heroine in the game I've been playing … but that doesn't mean anything.)

Another trumpet call.
No sooner is she away from her aunt, than there's another trumpet. So she heads to her room to get ready, and obediently reports to the courtroom. While I don't state this in the text, I'm sure she's desperately hoping that it's not one of her annoying suitors, because that would be terribly inconvenient at this moment. Not that it's convenient at any other moment, but usually she doesn't have anything better to do and it's actually a good excuse to show off her sword skill. Today, she has something better to do.

And it's not a suitor. It's an invitation to the wedding of a neighboring prince. Prince Eric.

Hey! That name sounds familiar. Isn't that the guy that Robin associated with the sword, and didn't seem to like? The invitation mentions putting behind them their recent quarrels …

Princess Beauty
King Alexander seems to like putting people in suspense when it comes to his plans. This is the second time he's delayed his response.

Robin's reaction to this invitation indicates that this is probably the same Eric they mentioned in the garden in the previous chapter. And every bit of contempt she has for him instantly transfers to his intended bride as well.

Robert comes her defense – she probably didn't choose her own name, after all, but Robin refuses to be dissuaded from her opinion. Whatever did this Eric do to be so singled out for her hatred.

Another conversation with Father.
Again King Alexander summons the twins to his office. Yes, he fully intends to attend, but more importantly, he also fully expects the twins to attend. The wedding isn't for another two weeks after their birthday, so they should have plenty of time to get to Winthrop, regardless of whether or not they find their Fairy Godmother. (Readers of Take are allowed to laugh at this statement.

And then he brings up Robin's choice of sword – and gives his approval, much to her relief. She really does crave permission for most of her antics.

But as they leave their father's office, I'd like to point out the thought that runs through her head – she's eager to show this Princess Beauty who the true best swordsman in the world is. This is interesting because, if their quest is successful, she won't be the best swordsman anymore – Robert will be. Is she that convinced that their mission will fail? Or is the reason deeper? Is it that her heart really isn't in the idea of changing herself? She's all for the quest – but her heart isn't in the goal. She just wants the adventure.

Back in the garden
Left to her thoughts, she wanders back to the garden, where her brother soon finds her. She indulges in a bit of nostalgia – this is the first time she's gone on a quest, after all. Sure, she's gone to balls and tournaments in other kingdoms, but she's never left with the future so uncertain – or on her own.

And here we have Robert bring up the possibility of them not finding their Fairy Godmother. Perhaps he doesn't want it any more than she does?

When she brings up Aunt Talia's request of that morning, Robert doesn't know anything more about this twin sister of their great-grandfather than she does, which causes her to dismiss the story even more, I'm sure. She considers Robert an authority on things like that.

Robert and Lists.
This scene was actually inspired by myself and my mom. I am, quite frankly, notorious for losing any list my mother makes for me, much to my mother's annoyance, so I naturally transferred this habit to Robin. Robert doesn't seem to mind too much … though he does make sure that he includes the finding of Robin's list on his own!

Favorite Lines:

Auroren sung as she pulled it out of its scabbard, just as it always did, calling to something deep within her which caused her to quiver with anticipation. Many a night she had snuck down to the great room to fight imaginary battles, until the day one of the guards had seen her and had reported it to her father. Since that day, it had been locked in this room, away from her childish fingers but always in her dreams.
Father did say any sword,” she said, a little loudly. “This is the one I choose.” Then she belted it onto her waist with fierce determination.

Princess Beauty!” said Robin to Robert as they left the room. “How arrogant! But – what can you expect from a girl who’d agreed to marry Eric?
She might be nice,” replied Robert. “She probably had no control whatsoever over her name.”
I bet she’s a mollycoddled priss,” said Robin with a roll of her eyes. “Only a priss would agree to marry him.”
Look who’s talking,” said Robert. “You’re the one acting like a priss.” Robin rolled her eyes again.

Don’t you have the list I gave you?” asked Robert.
Robin’s face went blank. “List,” she said. “Uh, I had it this morning – or was it yesterday morning? I know I had it some morning. I’m sure it’s somewhere.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have a certain pen or other such that when you use it, you do whatever it's meant for so much better?
  2. Are you like Robin or Robert when it comes to keeping track of lists?
  3. Any favorite lines?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Question of a Quest

Hello! And welcome to the first day of February and, thusly, the first chapter of Sew, It's a Quest. Please note, for those of you who haven't read it yet, I will be posting a LOT of spoilers, especially the further along I go. I'll try to keep them to

Sorry about this post coming a day late. Yesterday was my long day at work, and honestly, I don't remember a bit of it. It was rainy. I made a bunch of Mochas and Hot Chocolate and Coffee. There were a lot of people. I like people … but not in the avalaunces I had yesterday. Also, I finally have my library card working, and I've been reading a lot – finally have Seraphina, House of Hades, The Goosegirl, and a few other books that I've been meaning to read for a long time. And on Thursday, Ihad the random desire to hunt down a RP game my mom used to playseveral years ago, and to my delight, it was still free, so Idownloaded it. Currently, I've been having fun killing Jack (the newest member of my party) every few minutes.

Anyways, excuses aside, let's get to the commentary.

I have this prologue memorized, and I used to recite it at random moments. (Though, no, I didn't recite it for the purposes of the trailer) Honestly, it may be my favorite prologue I've ever written. It's the perfect blend of mysterious and obvious. While it doesn't, at first, seem to have anything to do with the following story, it's so short that readers don't complain about it.

Many of my readers already know that Sew began as a sequel to Sleeping Beauty entitled No Longer a Dream. For it, I had written, as the prologue, my own version of the fairy tale. When I changed the focus of the story, however, I wanted to keep Sleeping Beauty at the core. So I stripped away the story, changed to present tense, and this is what I got. Believe it or not, I only ever changed one word. I had used silk to describe two items, so I changed one to lace.

Once upon a Time, in a land called Bookania …
Since this was still, at its heart, a fairy tale retelling, I wanted the beginning of the story to reflect this. The most well known version of a fairy tale opening is the classic “once upon a time”, so naturally, that's what I used.

People have told me that this is a very captivating first chapter, and despite some minor inconsistencies with the rest of the book (more on this later) I'm quite fond of it. I've learned its appeal is that I took the time to establish the twin's characters by establishing their normal life – on the day that their normal life changes. It's a neat trick, actually, and something recommended by several writing websites that I hadn't even heard of at the time I wrote it.

The Twins
Anyone who's read my blog has probably heard me mention that I adore twins, and that most of my books include at least one pair (or half a pair in a few cases). However, while I introduce the twins and their normal lives in this scene, notice that I didn't, at first, say which had which. One has a distinctly feminine hobby, while the other is clearly the boy … right?

But I don't use pronouns. “The fighter” does this while “the sewer” does something else. Finally, Robin gets a name, but even then, it's a gender-neutral name. What's going on here? And now Robin is complaining that their father might be trying to stop this swordpracticing? Is it because Robin has been spending too much time doing it … or is the reason much more complicated?

With this one exclamation, the entire scene twists. Robert is definitely a boy's name – yet he's the one doing the sewing. Robin is now given the pronoun her. The girl is the swordfighter!

And then we enter Robin's head for a few moments to find out why – they have a Fairy Godmother who messed up their gifts – the premise of their story. And I also slip in a veiled reference to Sleeping Beauty – a princess with seven fairy godmothers who disappeared mysteriously.

However, I do have a few issues with this scene. First of all, Robin mentions “father” as being the one who was trying to make her stop, but from where I stand now, I know that her father was actually quite proud of her talent. It was her mother who wanted her to stop. Second, Robin managed to lose her sword . (Not loose, though, as I constantly try to spell it …) Honestly, I'm not sure how she managed that, but I guess because she doesn't have an opponent, and Robert was involved, it was possible. I shall have to explore that …

And another thing, when Robin snaps at Robert, she rolls over onto her stomach. And then she rolls over to mutilate a blade of grass (or glass, if you want to believe a recording I have of me reading it on my MP3 player). And while this isn't a blatant contradiction, I had pictured her on her stomach while mutilating that grass. Not on her back as the text implies.

I Did wear your skirts for six months”
In this chapter, I drop all sorts of interesting hints and tidbits that won't be explained until chapter six – a clever trick, in my opinion. One is the fact that they had apparently swapped clothing as kids, and that Robin looks back at it as a high point in her life. And then, when they're talking about Robin's suitors, Robert cautions her to “not get his sword stuck in the ceiling – a caution that she immediately associates with an “Eric” who “deserved that” and she obviously doesn't like.

Such a boy, such a girl.
This a phrase that I wish that I had worked into the story a few more times, because it's something of an inside joke between the pair, and they do it to remind themselves that, despite the swapping of their gifts, Robert is still a guy, and does guy things, and has a guy's brain, and Robin is still a girl, does girl things, and has a girl's brain. I kinda like how it was handled in No Longer a Dream, where it involved Robin pining after a “nice hot bath” but when I reached that scene in Sew, It's a Quest, it just didn't work.

Robin, fed up with being teased about the potential of a suitor, heads inside to be turned into a princess. Since she was a princess, she no doubt had servants, so I threw a servant-sounding name out. And then my mom got a hold of her, and suddenly she had backstory, a love interest, and direct connections to at least three fairy tales, a myth … and Shakespeare. Unfortunately, you won't learn about most of these connections until at least book six. Some will take even longer.

Annoying earrings
Of course Robin does turn into a princess quite nicely – even if she is uncomfortable about it.

I'm not a seamstress like some of my fellow writers, barely interested in learning the terms connected to clothing, so it should be no surprise that I don't spend long paragraphs describing clothing. I give the bare minimums – it's blue satin and has lace (notice that there isn't any embroidery, however, that is important, as we'll later discover), and she's annoyed with all of the jewelry she has to wear, especially the tiara that is “flaunting her status as princess” and the earrings.

Interestingly, earrings are never mentioned again in connection with Robin for the remainder of the book – and there's a good reason, as Robin has since informed me during an interview at Miss Melody's blog.

King Alexander and Queen Charlotte
And with a sweeping, generalizing sentence, I present the twin's parents. Their names are even quite typical for kings and queens.

Enter the emissary
And at last, anticipation over who the trumpets announce is resolved. It's Sir Hugh, back from his search for the elusive fairy godmother. Everyone watches with bated breath – was he successful this time? Would their prince and princess finally be as they ought?

But before he can out and tell the news, he has to give a detailed account of his adventures, which makes for a bored Robin and the mention of a physical sword in the ceiling. Apparently, it's important, as it's the third time it's been brought up in this chapter. I like how I unconsciously followed the rule of three with this matter.

An old lady – Fairy in disguise!
Just as Sir Hugh gets to the important part, Robert reclaims Robin's attention. Now, while sharing food with an old woman seems innocent enough, any reader of fairy tales knows that old women are seldom what they appear. As is the case with this one. As soon as she finished eating, she reveals that she's a fairy! The first fairy seen in years! His mission was a success! Robin and Robert will have their proper gifts! Right?

Hold on a second, this is only the first chapter of a book. No one ever gets what they want in the first chapter of a book.

The wrong fairy.
Remember, there's more than one fairy. Unfortunately, the fairy Sir Hugh met wasn't the twin's Fairy Godmother – but she does know who the Fairy Godmother is. Fallona. And she knows that the twins will have to find Fallona on their own.

This bit of news calls Queen Charlotte to question whether or not this was really a fairy – but Sir Hugh does have proof – when the finished talking, she turned into a young woman with auburn hair and a green dress, and the disappeared entirely. Obviously, she was telling the truth.

Oh, and as Robin impulsively extracts from Sir Hugh, there is a time limit to this quest. She must be found by the twin's eighteenth birthday – a mere four months away.

I actually find this a bit amusing, as I was fifteen when I wrote this book. And while this sounds innocent enough, you must take into consideration the fact that when I wrote The Ankulen, which has a fifteen-year-old as a main character, when I was seventeen. Interesting age swap there.

Queen Charlotte, however, is not amused. She doesn't like the idea of her children facing the world on their own. King Alexander, however, is willing to consider the option, and dismisses the court, giving the twins to come see him later.

Robin at loose ends.
And then they have to entertain themselves until later arrives. I don't say what Robert does – though I'm sure, as level-headed and resourceful as he is, he probably didn't get into any trouble. Robin, however, heads straight to her room, gets out of the dress jewelry, then finally gets her sword out of the tree – only to have it start raining.

And here I find another continuity issue. I describe it as an “early spring storm,” but counting back four months from June 12th, the day I have since declared to be their birthday, it should be late winter. Ah, well, maybe Bookania seasons are slightly ahead of ours …

They can go.
King Alexander is actually a pretty good dad and takes the twins pretty seriously as people. As such, he gives the choice to them. Both accept, Robert not as enthusiastically as his sister, but that's Robert for you.

And then King Alexander tells them that not only that they may go, but that he thinks that they should go alone – no servants or knights or any other sort of companion. Not only that, but they should be secretive about the affair – run away from home in the middle of the night, if you will.

Robin is obviously thrilled. Running away from home has been something she's wanted to do since she was little – as we'll see later. However, I don't think she would actually have ever gone had her father not given her permission here – or had her brother not gone with her. Yes, she's impulsive and all that, but this is one of the points where she's a lot like me. It's a very romantic idea, but not one we'll ever carry out on our own. Too many uncertainties.

She knows her brother looks out for her, just as she looks out for him. She's quite all right with that arrangement.

Favorite Lines:

 “It’s not silly,” argued the sewer. This was, by the way, an old argument between them. “I enjoy watching the scenes I sew come to life under my needle.”
It’s boring,” yawned Robin. “Now swordplay…”
Makes you lose your head,” the sewer finished.

 “No thank you,” said Robin. “But, if it is, I’ll just challenge him to a swordfight, and that will be the end of it.”
Don’t get his sword stuck in the ceiling,” cautioned Robert.
Eric deserved that!” Robin exclaimed, her eyes flashing again.

Putting his hand on his son’s shoulder, King Alexander said, “Take care of her, Robert. Don’t let her hothead carry her away.”
I will,” promised Robert. “I always have.”

King Alexander gave Robert’s shoulder a squeeze as he said, “I know you will, thank you.” He smiled warmly.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Did the identities of the swordfitghter and sewer take your by surprise, or had you already figured it out? (Or had it been ruined by reading my blog or a review somewhere?)
  2. Who did you think this Eric would be and the connection to the sword?
  3. What's your favorite line?
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