Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jane Austen Book Giveaway!

Dear People,

If you like Jane Austen, then you should head over to Old Fashioned Charm right away, because Miss Laurie is hosting a giveaway of five different Jane Austen realated books on her blog.  You don't want to miss out on this!

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Me and my Addled Brain

"She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain."  ~ Louisa May Alcott

This is basically me.  I'm reading about eight different books right now, which is great except that when you are following that many stories you sort of walk around in a daze all day unless you are reading.  

Funny Calvin and Hobbes
This is what happens when you read two murder mysteries in close succession while simultaneously going through a Charlotte Bronte novel and a history of the Third Reich, not to mention a few other lesser books in the mix.

Hence, do not expect any great intellectual revelations from me today.  Don't ask if I got any writing done during the weekend.


That's a funny joke.  My weekend was spent go-carting with my college and career Sunday school class.  I don't get out much, so this was a different sort of experience for me.  Most of my Saturdays are spent huddled up in my room listening to music and reading or writing.  I don't get a lot of human interaction.  This Saturday was chock full of human interaction at a so-called fun park.

The problem with me and go-carts is that I keep my foot all the way down on the gas pedal the whole time.  That's hard on the arms, because you have to make such quick movements with the steering mechanism.  I don't call it a wheel, because it was shaped like a square.  I felt like Cruella De Vil, screeching my wheels around all the turns.
Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians).
Me in a go-cart
Actually, go-carts are quite thrilling, and I would do them again if I wasn't worried about the permanent muscular damage I might inflict upon my arms.

My plans for this week are nil as of right now.  I just hope to finish at least three of the books I'm currently in so as to lower the intensity at which my brain is working.  Of course, I am hoping to make some progress on The Cat of Lake Gellara, too.  I'm currently in the middle of introducing some shepherds into the story.  I finally got Owen out of the woods where he had been stuck for some time.  Poor fellow.

I've done so much brainstorming for this story.  Writing a fairy tale like The White Cat, which basically runs on magic, without magic is a challenge extraordinaire.  I'm realizing that I have to explain everything that happens in the story without magic.  It's hard, but it gets me to thinking, and it is fun in the long run.  I'm just wondering how I can explain the dragon in the story.  That's one little detail I haven't worked out yet.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Congratulations to Kiri Liz

I just wanted to let everyone who does not already know know that Kiri Liz over at Lianne Taimenlore is now an author on Goodreads.  You must check it out!

You should add her absoballylutely amazing book to your shelves on Goodreads.  Just saying.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Nerdy People

Hello, folks.

Last night I had an interesting discussion with a fellow creative writer.  We talked about nerds.

It's always fun to talk about your own kind, right?  We humans are a self-centered race, are we not?

Questions, questions.

We agreed in the end that everyone is a nerd about something, because everyone gets excited about something.  Face it, there are even nail polish nerds, even though I don't pretend to understand why.

I, of course, am a book nerd.
I did this before lol. Only book nerds will understand
This is moi.
Not only am I a book nerd, I am a specific type of book nerd.  As my friend put it last night, I am up on pop culture from about two hundred years ago.  For example, I am currently reading Shirley by Charlotte Bronte and immensely enjoying it as I zip through it.  This is easy reading to me.  I know I'm not alone here.

But then there are book nerds who read more modern stuff, like I don't even know what.  Is Hunger Games even modern any more?  Clearly I am not well-informed about these things, even though several people are trying to bring me slightly up to date.  (This happened after I asked who Chuck Norris was, only to receive stares of amused incredulity from the people around the lunch table at where I sat.)  Now I have someone who is trying to get me into comics.

Good *luck* with that.

The lines blur between these people and the TV show nerds, better known as fangirls.  How quaint.

fangirling so hard about bones season 7 right now

Wow.  I simply sit in awe of these people, because how they do it is beyond me.  While I involve myself in a story, I'm usually more interested in the characterization and the writing style and the plot development.  It takes a FANTASTIC book to get me to forget that it's a story.  I fangirl over writing styles.  What can I say?  And I'll still analyze everything after I read it.  Silly me.

Then there are those miscellaneous nerds, like computer nerds, etc.  I still maintain, though, that everyone is a nerd about SOMETHING.

So tell me, folks.  What sort of nerd are you?

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chat with the Characters: Realistic vs. Relatable

King Calius, Alicia's younger brother, young and inexperienced.
King Calius
Blogglings, I have a lovely treat for you today.  Hidden Orchards is having a series of Chat with the characters posts.  During these posts three characters will join me, including two of my own and one guest.  Today's topic is Realistic vs. Relatable.  What should we look for in a character?  Let me introduce you to today's three lovely people:

Judith Tittleton
Judith Tittleton
Calius Chale, the king of Valewin, is from Alicia, the younger brother of the protagonist.  He's a quiet person most of the time, a good hunter, but doesn't like ruling very much.

Judith Tittleton, the eldest child of Sir John and Lady Tittleton, is an upper-middle-class young woman living in London in the 1850s.  You might know her from Christmas at the Tittletons.  She is outgoing and doesn't like being cooped up or following societal traditions, but she has a solid, thoughtful brain under all of her sprightly sarcasm.

The MIF production of "Macbeth" is the most amazing anything you will see anywhere ever. Get to a screening. I don't care how far you have to drive. Go.
Our guest is MacBeth.  We all know him pretty well, I think, but in case you've never had the pleasure of meeting him, he's a thane in ancient Scotland, intent on becoming king.

And now, I believe we have an chat to conduct.

Hello, everyone.  Thanks for joining me today.  Have a seat and some chocolate and tea.

Judith: Thank you, Miss Bassington-French.  Quite a lovely blog you have here.

MacBeth: Chocolate?  An interesting food.  Thank you, Bassington-French.

Calius:  Thank you.

Now that we're all settled here, let me tell you some details about this chat.  Our discussion is based on the question: Should a character be realistic or relatable?  MacBeth, as our guest, I'm wondering what you think about this.  What sort of a character do you think you are, and what would you say is the difference between realistic and relatable?

MacBeth: How can one relate to me?  I am based upon a man in history, or at least in legend, hence, I am realistic, inasmuch as there are people like me.  How many have slain for a crown?  But to be relatable, that is a different song.  Few people find themselves in my position, for how many talk to witches and know their future?

Agreed.  But don't you have characteristics that others can relate to?

MacBeth: I am ambitious, and that is relatable characteristic.  Are not many folk ambitious, eager for the chance to rise higher?  No wonder I am so well-known today.  Many people see their worst selves reflected in me.  They call me a villain, but they admire me all the same.

Judith: But Thane MacBeth, would you not say that to be relatable you must also be realistic?  Are these two characteristics so very different?

MacBeth: Two different words are they, and two different definitions they must have.  It seems they must be different, or we would not be discussing them so.

True.  That's why I called this discussion.  What do you think is the difference between the two words, Judith?  Use that intelligent head of yours.

Judith: Realistic means true-to-life.  A realistic character is just like a person that could walk around and talk to you.  He jumps off the page.

Does he?  I wonder.  Think about real people, Judith.  When you pass a real person walking about on your foggy London streets, do you feel that he jumps out at you?  What makes him interesting?  Even your own family you don't quite look at as terribly exciting, no matter how much you love them.

Judith: Well, I do love my family, and they are different, at least, slightly eccentric compared to other people I know.  I don't know if they would be terribly memorable if someone met them on the street, though.

Calius: Isn't realistic depressing, though?  Who wants to read about the "real world?"

MacBeth: To read of the real world is, yes, depressing, but so many people would say that I and my story are depressing.

Think about relatable, though.  I know that at least two of you are readers.  What characters do you relate to?

Calius: I relate to Loren D'Nore of the old legends.  Even though we're so different, I know how scared she must have felt becoming a ruler so young.

But she was a girl, and she lived in a land far different from yours, and in all honesty, she is really nothing like you except that she likes to read and had no experience in ruling.

Calius: But she was manipulated by the powerful people around her.  I like how she stood up to them, and sometimes it makes me feel like I can stand up to Alicia.

MacBeth: Are there no characters of fiction to which you relate, Bassington-French?

Oh, yes.  I relate to Sydney Carton in Tale of Two Cities.  Maybe that's why I like that book so much.

Judith: What?  But he's not anything like you.  That is, you aren't a drunkard, thank goodness, and you don't have unrequited love or get your head chopped off, at least not yet.

And that is a blessing.  I think what I relate to most with Carton is his love of solitude.  I understand that, not to mention his desire to do what is right even though he's messed up so badly before.

MacBeth: The knave is hardly realistic though.  I wouldn't call any of Master Dickens' characters realistic.

Calius: Since when do you know about Dickens?

MacBeth: I've been around for quite a while, lad.

All right, guys.  I will say, though, that you're right, MacBeth.  Sydney Carton isn't a very realistic person, especially not in today's terms.  The thing about him that is relatable is the fact that, while he is in many respects an ideological character, he reflects many traits of real people.  I don't think that Sydney Carton could possibly exist as a real person, simply because he's too flat.  His character is well-rounded as characters go, and he's terribly complex in the fictional world, but fictional characters entering the real world can't seem realistic because they are parts of the author's imagination.

Calius: Are you saying that it's impossible to make a totally realistic character?

Basically, yes.  The best an author can hope for is a relatable character.

Judith: What about characters like me, who are based off of real people?

MacBeth: Actually, woman, I think you illustrate the author's point precisely.  You were based off of a real person, but you only embody some of this person's most memorable traits.  Compared to the real person, you are flat and fictional, no matter how sprightly you may seem on the page.

Calius:  Miss Tittleton's traits are simple reflections of a real person's mannerisms and personality.

Judith: That sounds horrid, yet I must agree.  Still, I know that people have enjoyed me as a character, just as Thane MacBeth has been enjoyed for ages.

Calius: No offense to the Thane, but I don't think that anyone would wish to be like you.

No, he's a magnification of real traits.  That's what's so great about him.

Judith: Are you saying that characters in fiction are merely like insects laid under the magnification scope?

Yes, in a way.  A good book is like a magnifying glass, and the characters are representations of real traits embodied in pseudo-people.  That's why we recognize them.

MacBeth: Thus each fictional character is more of a caricature.  Everyone recognizes a caricature, while a real face is easily lost in a crowd of others.  Put on a clownish mask, though, and presto, everyone finds you!

Calius: What about me?  Am I a caricature of anyone?

In a way, you are.  I wrote you to be a typical younger brother at first glance, easily bullied by your older sister.

Calius: Yet I was from the older sister's perspective on both counts, seeing as you were writing from Alicia's eyes and you are an oldest sister yourself.  Does that not make me less relatable, since I'm being viewed as a caricature through the eyes of a caricature?

Judith: You grow, your Majesty, and quite a bit.  Your sister was sympathetic toward you, and thus wrote you less as a caricature and more as her own brother.  You were real to her in her writing, even if you are only the shadow of any younger brother in real life.

MacBeth: What have we decided, then?  The realistic is impossible; the relatable is possible.

Judith: Personally, I feel that the realistic is undesirable as well.  I already have to live my life, and I don't want to have to read about it as well.  Something relatable, though, is different because it makes me feel as though there are people like me in the world.

That's the sort of difference a reader knows by instinct, I think.  Realism in a book is so annoying, but if an author can achieve relatability, that's good writing.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Beautiful People - Damien Nientr

Hi, folks!  I hope that you had a wonderful Independence Day weekend.  I personally had a lovely time in Charleston, or Chaston, as my southern friend calls it.

Today I am linking up with The Notebook Sisters for their Beautiful People post.  Yay! *throws leftover firecrackers*

And the beautiful person about which I will be speaking (Don't you just love that sentence structure?) is Damien Nientr.  The prince is from Sevyim and is one of my MCs older brothers.  He's also one of my favorite characters so far.

Prince Damien Nientr

1. What's their favorite food? (Bonus: favorite flavor of chocolate!)
Damien likes fish, partly because his mother believes it is unhealthful.  He is also partial to muffins for breakfast.  He likes his chocolate dark and with raspberries.  Simply lovely!

2. What do they absolutely hate?
Damien hates bullies with a passion, perhaps because he and Owen have suffered under the bullying of Wallace for so long.  Damien does not take his hatred out on his older brother, but he does not stand for any bullying from anyone else.

3.  What do they enjoy learning about?
Teeheehee!  Damien happens to be the most scholarly of the three brothers.  He loves learning just about anything.  His favorite academic subject to study was geography, because he has always longed to travel.

4.  Who is the most influential person in their life?
Damien would probably say that his mother has been the greatest influence in his life.  He has a difficult time understanding his father, because even though the king loves his sons, he is so busy running Sevyim that he has little time to spend with his family.

5.  What is their childhood fear?
Damien is afraid of being alone.  He likes being around others, and he really dislikes being in a group where he is unknown.  That, to him, is the worst kind of loneliness.

6.  What is something they have always dreamed of doing, but secretly thought impossible.
Damien has always wanted to be king.  He knows he could be a good king, but because he is the second son he has never had much hope for the throne.

7.  What is something he is impractically afraid of?
My, the questions this month are dark!  Damien is impractically afraid of being struck by lightning, due to a story of the queen's.

8.  Are they a night owl or a morning person?
Damien is one of those odd morning people who actually enjoy rising early and accomplishing things before breakfast.  He usually nods off sometime around 9:30 every evening.  Disgusting.

9.  Do they say everything that pops into their head, or do they leave a lot unsaid?
Hmmmmmmmmm.  That depends on the situation.  Damien has trouble keeping his thoughts in, and his mouth houses a sarcastic tongue.  He can keep his thoughts to himself in a truly serious situation, though.

10.  What are their nervous habits?
That's a difficult question, because Damien does not strike me as a person who gets very nervous.  Of course, after this probing questionnaire, Damien seems like a wimp who's scared of everything, but he's really a brave person in real life.  It's hard to imagine him being very nervous in any situation.  He does have the habit of tipping his bowl to get the last bit of soup, which always annoys the queen.

Thank you for reading, and God bless,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Introducing Saffi, the White Cat

Hello, people.  I hope everyone is having a lovely week.  Am I the only one who is excited that Independence Day is in two days?  I doubt it.  I enjoy being patriotic, and this is one of those days where everyone else is patriotic too.  Also I get to go to Charleston tomorrow, which is terribly exciting.

So far we've met Owen and his brothers.  I must say, as of right now I am still waiting for Owen to wake up and take his place among the living characters.  I feel like I am writing a piece of cardboard.  I like Damien much better.  Owen's name means 'young fighter,' but he has shown little spirit as of yet.  We need to connect.  I think we'll be spending some disciplinary time together.

Damien (meaning - tame) is definitely my favorite of the three princes.  Wallace (meaning - stranger) is my least favorite.  I feel a bit of apathy toward Owen so far.  He needs to straighten up.  I don't know how to wake him up!

Frustration reigns.

Instead, I will talk about Saffi, the heroine-ish person in the story.  Everyone calls her White Cat, which is not exactly a term of endearment.  Of course, Owen, who hates cats, can't stand to call her that, so he makes her tell him her real name.  Her real name is Sofia, but he calls her Saffi for short.  Innocent little Saffi (meaning - wise) does not quite *get* Owen.

Emily's veil will be as thick as they come. She was a very private person!
"The human face is a hideous thing, a figment of terror to haunt your worst, your darkest nights.  To lay eyes upon it is to go mad.  To wear it is to be a monster.  It is the epitome of every evil demon and shade rolled into a mask of darkness and fury.  You must never even think to look upon it, or it will ruin your mind forever."  ~ Marra Bevrigal
For instance, Saffi's aunts, the three sisters that raised her, have never allowed her to look on a person's face.  She's never actually seen what someone looks like before, because all the servants must wear heavy veils around her, and even she has to wear the White Cat mask all the time.  There are no mirrors in Castle Gellara, and Saffi has only ever seen her mask reflected in spoons or bowls.  Since she always wears her mask, the servants speculate about her true looks to Owen when he shows up.  Popular gossip has it that the sisters (two of which are dead at the time Owen arrives) keep her face covered because it is so beautiful that any man who sees it will instantly fall in love.  This is completely false.  The old women have an entirely different reason, which I obviously can't divulge for spoiler reasons.

In fact, the old women have told Saffi that the human face is a disgustingly ugly thing that she must never try to see or she will have terrible nightmares.  You might think that this is silly, but Saffi has been fed this lie ever since she was a baby, so she really believes it.  When Owen first arrives at the castle, he is wearing a helmet with a visor.  When he tries to take it off, she screams and makes him keep it on.  Thus Saffi begins by thinking that Owen is actually a villain, because who else would try to give a poor girl nightmares?  Poor Owen has to walk around with his heavy helmet and hot visor on all the time, though.  That's not fun.

Showtime, Gelding - German Horse Center
Sabine, Owen's horse
I like Saffi.  She's definitely the fair-damsel-in-distress type of person as opposed to the go-getter lady warrior or even the fun-loving-and-still-strong-minded-but-not-really-into-swords type of girl.  After all, it would be difficult to be strong-minded and fun-loving if you have been repressed, secluded, and lied to for your entire life.  Saffi, even though I'm not writing from her viewpoint, is more real to me now than Owen.

He really needs to get his act together.  His horse has a better personality than he does.  That's not neat.  Horses should not be more fun to write than main characters.  That goes against my brain on so many levels.

Aside from that, I am really enjoying this story.  I am now drawing close to 14,000 words.  Time to get back to writing now!

Thanks for reading, and God bless,