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Archive for November, 2013

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. Lots to do.

But, I’ve been thinking about something lately, so I’ll talk about it here. I’ve recently finished (yesterday, as a matter of fact) an interesting indie book (FLEDGLING by Nicole Conway). This made me think of the prevalence of orphan and/or abused and/or seriously misunderstood protagonists, especially in middle grade/young adult stories.

Harry Potter immediately comes to mind, of course, but he was far from the first. Anne McCaffrey’s Menolly in the Harper Hall trilogy. Taran in Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. Even Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy. I could go on and on. The trope of the orphan boy or widow’s son who makes good goes all the way back to fairy/folk tales.

And it made me wonder. Why? Why do so many stories start with this kind of hero? I think there are several reasons.

For one, at least as far as middle grade stories are concerned, I think we all go through a period around those years when we believe no one understands us. It’s something the readers can relate to, at least as far as the misunderstood protagonist goes.

Another reason might be that it builds in some initial conflict while the story gets started. While the narrative is building to the inciting incident, the character already has something to fight against. And it can even be a further complication–something, perhaps, that makes the hero doubt himself–once the real story problem is in full tilt.

But sometimes I think it’s just done to build sympathy for the main character, like having him pet the cat. And that just makes me want to break type. Someday, I’m going to have to write a story in which the orphan is bitter and becomes the villain. Just because I can.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis...

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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I don’t know about other writers, but my output definitely slows down a bit around this time of year. There are too many other things that need to get done, too. (To all my writer friends doing National Novel Writing Month right now, trying to write 50,000 words in the month of November, more power to you.)

This year, Thanksgiving will be at my house for the first time in almost 15 years. Eep. It’s not that I can’t handle the cooking. I cook a turkey every year anyway. And I don’t have to do all of it this year. I’m only responsible for the pies (as always), turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and rolls (with help from Pilsbury).

But there’s a lot I need to do before then. I mean, despite my somewhat lackadaisical attitude toward housekeeping, the place has to look at least minimally picked up, dusted, etc. I’m going to have to find another chair or two somewhere, too.

Meanwhile, I’m working on revisions to three different novels, as the mood strikes me. The rewrite of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE needs a second look-through to work out a few structural issues (like losing the main conflict for several chapters). The rewrite of DREAMER’S ROSE needs some new scenes to replace places where I used telling in the original. And, of course, the revisions to MAGIC AND POWER that I outlined in my last post.

Oh, and Christmas is less than a month after Thanksgiving.

Yeah. No pressure.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

Meanwhile, a new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is available free on wattpad. And don’t forget there are still a few stops on my blog tour tomorrow.

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Sometimes, it’s surprising what things will come together at the precisely right time to spark an idea. That might be the seed of a new story. Other times it might be the germ of what needs to happen to make an existing story better.

That happened to me yesterday. I was working through one of the critiques on MAGIC AND POWER (which may be retitled DESERT ROSE). Then I read this post on Adventures in YA Publishing, and everything started to come together.

I had a period early in my story in which my main character didn’t seem to be struggling enough. There wasn’t enough tension. Also, during that part of the story, the hoped-for love triangle didn’t have as much suspense as it needs because the “right” choice was a little too obvious.

Now, I’m going to give that “right” choice some drives based on his background that are at odds with the main character’s desires. Basically, he’s going to annoy the heck out of her, causing her to brush off her early attraction to him.

I think it will make the story so much better. And that’s the name of the game.

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Well, my blog tour arranged by Bewitching Book Tours, starts tomorrow.

Blood Will Tell & Blood is Thicker Button 300 x 225

Here’s the schedule:

November 18 Spotlight and review

Penny For Them…

http://pennyforthemuk.com/search/label/tour

 

November 18 Spotlight

Book Reviews by Xunaira J.

http://thesaucyreviewer.wordpress.com/

 

November 18 Spotlight

AC James

www.acjames.com

 

November 19 Spotlight and review

Diaries of 2 Thick Chicks

http://diariesof2thickchicks.blogspot.com/

 

November 19 Guest blog 

Mythical Books

http://mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/

Guest Post: The Journey or the ending

 

November 19 review

Romance with Flavor

www.romancewithflavor.com

 

November 20 Interview

The Simple Things in life

Https://pwrspot.blogspot.com/

 

November 20 Interview

Musings and Ramblings   

http://judy-ree.blogspot.com

 

November 21 Spotlight and review

Fang Freakin’ Tastic Reviews

http://fangfreakintasticreviews.com

 

November 21 review

trips down imagination road 

http://a-reader-lives-a-thousand-lives.blogspot.co.uk

 

 

November 21 review

Corey’s Book Reviews     

coreywisniewski.blogspot.com

 

November 22 Guest blog: Character Profiles

Books, Books The Magical Fruit

http://booksbooksthemagicalfruit.blogspot.com

 

November 22 review

Crazy Four Books

http://www.crazyfourbooks.blogspot.com

 

November 25 Spotlight

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews

http://mytangledskeinsbookreviews.blogspot.com

 

November 25 Spotlight and review

Ramblings of a Book Lunatic

http://booklunaticramblings.blogspot.com

 

November 25 review

happy tails and tales 

http://magluvsya03.wordpress.com

This is my first blog tour. It looks like it’s going to be a busy week.

Also, there will shortly be another new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER available on wattpad. (Forgot to do it last night. Sorry.)

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In honor of my blog tour starting next week and the oncoming holiday season, here’s an excerpt from BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

For background:

Rolf, Valeriah, and Kamara are dragons who happen to be in Southern California shortly before Christmas. Rolf and Valeriah have been here before, but not together at this time of year. Now, they’re mates and they have a very serious errand in our world. Kamara is Rolf’s baby sister on her first visit. Of course, for purposes of getting along among humans, they all look human.

Rolf noticed the decorations on the light standards first. He started whistling “Joy to the World.”

Vallie took one look and groaned. “Christmas. Perfect. Busiest shopping time of the year.”

“Well, we left here six months ago and it was June, then,” Rolf said.

“I know. It’s just easy to lose track of the dates over here when you spend a lot of time in Chimeria.”

“What’s Christmas?” Kamara asked from the back seat.

Vallie twisted around to answer her. “A big holiday in the main religion over here. They all go out and buy each other gifts they can’t afford and don’t need.”

Rolf laughed. “Scrooge! Christmas can be fun. Singing. Parties. Decorations.”

“Dragging a dead tree into the house,” Vallie answered.

“The piney smell of the forest drifting through the house.”

Vallie made a rude noise.

“Eggnog.”

Vallie made a face. “Yuck.”

“Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps, then.” As the look on Vallie’s face changed, Rolf continued, pressing his advantage. “Peppermint bark, candy canes, fudge, Christmas cookies.”

“Well . . .” Vallie said. “Some of it may be okay.”

“Haven’t you ever had a good time at Christmas over here?” Rolf asked.

She shrugged. “No. I’ve never been on this side for pleasure, only as a bodyguard for Zobran or Tirella or one of the other Council members. All the crowds and chaos of the holidays only made my job harder.”

“We’ll have to see if we can’t fix that,” Rolf said. “Show you how much fun it can be.”

 

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Well, sort of, anyway.

It’s a strange fact of writing–for me–that ideas only really come to me while I’m writing. That’s probably one reason that outlining doesn’t work well for me. And it works a lot better when I’m writing something “new” than when I’m revising. However, rewriting something old seems to be close enough to writing new material, because I’m getting lots of new ideas for this story, DREAMER’S ROSE.

The final product is going to start much like the previous version. Somewhere around chapter ten, however, it’s going to diverge and never look back. Even the antagonist is going to change. It’s a whole new story. (Which is a good thing. Trust me. There’s a reason why the original version has been buried on my hard drive. I love the premise, but the first attempt just wasn’t working.)

I’m thinking now that I’ll need four point-of-view characters (including the antagonist). The three protagonists will be part of–well, not exactly a love triangle, but something similar to one. (It’s not a true triangle because one choice, while perhaps tempting, is patently impossible. The readers will know that, even if the characters don’t–at first.)

This is hopeful for WEIRD OZ, too. DREAMER’S ROSE just needed to marinate a little longer before the real story revealed itself. Maybe that’s all WEIRD OZ needs, too. 

At any rate, I’m having fun with this one right now. There’s so much I love about this new version.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

Also, a new chapter of BLOOD IS THICKER is now available on wattpad.

The blog tour starts in just over a week. Stay tuned.

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I’ve got a little light back in this room. Amazing how much that helps. Later, I’ll be going out to trim some more of that bishop’s cap vine back.

What’s helped even more is actually getting back to some writing. I’ve been doing revisions for a while now. Not that I mind revisions, but it’s not the same as the highs–and sometimes lows–of writing a first draft.

I was supposed to be doing the first draft of Weird Oz. (If I’m not careful, that title is going to stick.) But that story just wasn’t working out–yet. So, I looked back in my files and pulled out another oldie, DREAMER’S ROSE, and, wonder of wonder, words started to flow again.

It’s not exactly a first draft, but DREAMER’S ROSE is going to need a complete rewrite. In fact, I now suspect that I will only be rewriting the first part of the story. After that, I think it’s going to go off in an entirely new direction–the re-imagining that this story needed.

In its inspiration, DREAMER’S ROSE is a mash-up of the Hercules legend (turned on its head) and the fairy tale “Toads and Diamonds”. The Rose of the title has sort of the same function as a compass, but for people who are lost in their dreams rather than in reality–a compass rose for dreamers.

English: First compass rose depicted on a map,...

English: First compass rose depicted on a map, detail from the Catalan Atlas (1375), attributed to cartographer Abraham Cresques of Majorca. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 However, this new version of the story is probably going to be much more focused on the dreamer than on Rose.

Ah, it feels good to be writing again.

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