Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Beautiful People ~ Bruno

Hello again, fellow bloggers!

Don't forget, the opening sale for the Christmas at the Tittletons eBook is still going on!  You can find it here.

The beggar woman and Bruno
Bruno and his mother
So, today's beautiful people post is actually about a character from Alicia.  I told you I was consumed with Alicia right now, since I'm editing/finding beta readers.  Still looking, by the way!

Bruno is an incredibly wonderful character.  I made him for a specific purpose, but I never expected to become as attached to him as I eventually did.

Basically, Alicia rescues Bruno from the streets when she comes across his dying mother.  Bruno is Alicia's connection with goodness, as it were.  He is meant to symbolize the hope that Alicia will eventually turn into a good character, since she certainly isn't at the beginning of the story.  Because of Bruno, we see that Alicia isn't quite as thoughtless and cruel as she seems at first.  She actually does care for the little boy.

By the time Alicia starts, Bruno is nine years old and Alicia's favorite page boy.  I'll let the rest of the beautiful people questions give more information about him.

1. What is his full name?
Bruno, just Bruno.

2. Does his name have special meaning?
Bruno means shield or armor.  In a way, Bruno is Alicia's shield, keeping her from total cruelty.

3. Is there something he is afraid of?
Bruno is afraid of nothing.  He knows that Alicia will dismember anyone who so much as looks at him funny.

4. Does he write, dream, dance, sing, or photograph?
Bruno does like to sing and enjoys a rousing jig as much as the next boy, but he does not write much, he doesn't even know what a camera is, since those contraptions don't exist in Valewin, and he already has everything he could ever want, so he doesn't bother to dream.
Bruno!!!
Bruno

5. Is he a Christian, or will he eventually find Jesus?
Bruno is not a Christian.  I can say no more, due to intense spoilers.

6. Does he have a good sense of humor?  If so, what kind?
Bruno has an amazing sense of humor.  He especially appreciates sarcasm, probably since he's been exposed to so much from Alicia.  He also likes wit and highly enjoys slapstick humor.  He's the sort of person that will take humor in any form he can get it.

7. Any strange hobbies?
He puts people to sleep for Alicia.  He also likes to spend time in the stables with the horses when Alicia doesn't need him.

8. What kinds of things get on his nerves?
Bruno hates to see anyone do anything mean to Alicia.  Never mind that she is cruel and manipulative.  To his childish mind, Alicia is IT, and no one had better mess with her.

9. What is his biggest secret?
Bruno is secretly ashamed of his background.  Even though Alicia rarely mentions it, Bruno knows perfectly well that he is one of the only people in the castle who came off the streets.

10. Has he ever been in love?
No, not in the way this question means.  He does love Alicia, though.

11. What color are his eyes?  His hair?
Bruno has blue eyes and brown hair.

12. What is one of his strongest childhood memories?
Well, Bruno is still a child, but he always looks back with fondness upon the day that Alicia gave him his own horse.

13. Does he believe in love at first sight?
He's never really thought much about it before.

14. What would he do if he discovered he was dying?
He would want to tell Alicia first.  She means the world to him, and besides, what else would he do?  And he would tell Alicia that he loved her and that he was sorry he had to leave her.

15. What do your other characters have to say about him?
Alicia: Bruno is the best friend anyone could ever want.
Calla: Bruno is the least innocent of any child I have ever known.  If he really knew what Alicia involved him in, I think he would be horrified.
Sir Ashenisk:  He's a good boy, but he needs to straighten up or he'll be as twisted as his mistress.
Calius: Bruno is an obedient boy, at any rate.
Siladra: Bruno is a nuisance, and he and Alicia are too thick for my taste.
Hernagrow: Bruno is a lot more clever than that innocent face of his shows.  I like him.

And now, let's have some snippets about Bruno!

Bruno was a nine-year-old boy, my trusted page-boy, and a beloved friend.  The two of us could converse for hours on end.  His youthful wit and spirits never failed to catch me up into the best of humors.  Meanwhile, the two of us had developed a simple but effective code.  When I snapped my fingers twice, he was to use a special little weapon that I kept locked up in a box.  He and I each had a key for that box, and he knew exactly what to do with the contents of the box.
~ Alicia

The child came in his usual pompous state.  “Your Highness,” he smiled, bowing low before me.
            “Shall we have a lark tonight, Bruno?” I asked.
            His eyes lit, and he rolled back on his heels.  “I should greatly enjoy that, your Highness,” he laughed.
            “Excellent!  I want to put a bit of my potion into Rachelle’s cup tonight, but only enough to make her ridiculous.  Make certain that she is sitting at my right hand.”
            “Nothing shall be easier,” said Bruno, smiling again.
            “See that it is done, child,” I returned, tapping him on the shoulder.  He strutted off to do my bidding.
~ Alicia

Suddenly I wanted companionship.  I saw Bruno standing near one of the doors, and I waved at him until he saw me.  His solemn little face lighted up into his most mischievous smile.  I beckoned him towards me, and he dutifully strutted through the jugglers, the servants, and the few dancers, up to the royal table.
            “Yes, your Highness?” he asked pompously.
            “I want you beside me, if you please,” I whispered as kindly as I could.
            He possessed very sharp ears, for he heard the terror that I had tried to conceal.
            “Your Highness?” he questioned, looking about him for some sign of the problem.  I wondered if even my dear Bruno would understand what I had only felt.
            I laid my hand upon his shoulder and squeezed it just a little, happy to feel the warmth of the child beneath his thick garments.  Bruno looked up at me, his usually mischievous eyes displaying only the trust he had shown me when he was very little.  He was my accomplice, my partner in crime, and yet he was but a little boy.  I felt almost guilty for having brought him up so, but then I felt guilty for feeling guilty, and my mind became so confused that I stopped thinking.  After all, Bruno was a dear child, and I was his protector.  Without me, he would have died long ago.
~ Alicia


By the way, I'm still looking for beta readers for Alicia.  If you happen to be interested, please email me at j.bassfrench@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Christmas at the Tittletons Character Interview and Ebook Sale

Dear Bloglings,

Well, I've been a bit busy and also a bit consumed with Alicia lately, so I haven't done anything big for the release of Christmas at the Tittletons on eBook.  Yet . . .

Actually, one of my dear friends, the real recorder of the events at Tittleton House, is with us today, and she is excited about the advent of her book in electronic form.

Well, yes, I am, but I am simply stricken with awe at the thought of those words being electric.  Why, I thought that electricity was only in lightning.

Not quite, Miss Warbling.  In our time almost everything we use is connected with electricity in some way, no matter how remote.

Fascinating!   Simply fascinating!  Perhaps if we'd had your electrical devices at Tittleton House, we would not have taken so long to find the murderer.

Perhaps not, but you did a good job anyhow.

Me?  Oh, goodness, no, Miss Bassington-French.  I did nothing out of the ordinary except go about and get into trouble.  The real credit goes to Scotland Yard.  They did most of the investigating.

Perhaps, but where would they have gotten if you didn't help out in the end?  The murderer would never have been found out.

The only thing I did was write about it afterward.

Yes, with a little help from yours truly.  Don't take all the credit, Miss Warbling.

Heaven forbid that!  But writing about it helped me to keep a bit of sanity while in my uncle's castle.  Have you ever read Anne Radcliffe?

A little, but I've not finished one of her books yet.

Uncle Andrew's castle is every bit as terrifying as one of Miss Radcliffe's.  Even the castle, though, can't compare with the terror of finding a dead body in a darkened library at night, or of being attacked in your own bed.

Please, Miss Warbling, you can't give away all the spoilers!

Spoilers?

The most exciting and revealing parts of the book?  Do you want everyone to know?

Well, yes.  That's the whole reason I wrote the account in the first place.  I want people to know what really happened at Tittleton House, seeing as the newspapers were getting everything all wrong.   You know that one of the newspapers called me a vain young lady?  Not in so many words, but it was there for all to see quite plainly.

I'm dreadfully sorry, Miss Warbling.  If they had ever met you, I know they would have felt differently.

My thoughts exactly.  But I don't understand why some people have to be such gossips.

Well, hopefully everyone who really wants to know the truth will read your account of it, and then they will get it all right.

I hope people read it whether they want to know the truth or not!

Me too, frankly.  But I think you had better go now, so that I can announce the sale.

Oh, Miss Bassington-French, do let me announce it.  I should dearly love to, as I have never announced anything like thisbefore.

Very well.

Dear people, I hope that you are all listening closely, because this is very important.  How am I doing, Miss Bassington-French?

Very well, Miss Warbling.

Oh, good.  Well, for the next week, Miss Bassington-French is pricing her book at 3 shillings for a whole week!  I am most elated over the news.  You should all go and purchase it at once, for such a price is scarce to be found anywhere else.

Miss Warbling, not 4 shillings.  This is the United States, and also over a century and a half later than you.  Prices are different.  The real price during the sale is actually $2.50.  But only for a week.

Christmas at the Tittletons

Ah, yes, I keep forgetting.  $2.50 is the price.  But 3 shillings is not a bad price for a book.

No, it really isn't.

And this is only for a week.  After that, the book goes back to $7.00 for its selling price.  You had all better buy it now while you can.

Thank you, Miss Warbling.  Now are you ready to go?

Aren't you going to put those little blue letters down that bring people to the book if they touch it?

Do you mean a link?  Of course!

Here's the link, people.  Go here to buy Christmas at the Tittletons for $2.50, but only for one week.

Now, Miss Bassington-French, may we have some tea?

Sounds delightful, Miss Warbling.  Excuse me, all.  I do believe I've been invited out for tea.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Addendum

Dear Bloggers,

It seems that there was a little mix-upishness about how to contact me for beta reading.  It was all on my part, but just so you know, you can contact me at j.bassfrench@gmail.com.

Also, just so some of you who have not been following this blog for a long time know,  Alicia is a fantasy/adventure novel, NOT a murder mystery.  Although there are fantasy elements in the story, I make it very clear that humans cannot use them without harming themselves.  I would recommend this story for people twelve and up.  I know a lady that I very much respect who allowed her twelve-year-old daughter to read this, but I would not give it to anyone very much younger  Please, if you are younger than twelve, I would not recommend this book, not because there are major objections, but because I specifically wrote it for an older audience.  There are themes in this book of good vs. evil, and it gets dark at times.  Alicia herself is meant to be picture of what people would be like if they had no restraints on their temper, hence, she is a pretty awful person.

Because I am a Christian, I do not believe in putting any worldly language (swearing) into my books, so there are no swear words in Alicia.  Just so you know!  Also, the romance in this story is minimal and almost nonexistent, so if you don't like a lot of romance in your stories, then this is the book for you!

Alicia, Princess of Valewin
My whole point in writing Alicia was to write a fantasy that had a deeper message than "Be yourself" or to show a girl who was stronger than the men.  I wanted a story with great depth and a strong message to it, and I wanted to show that a person's God-given responsibilities are more important than being yourself or following your heart.  Alicia is meant to be read with thought, and Alicia herself is not necessarily a role model, especially at the beginning of the novel.  I also wanted to get the message through that no matter how good your intentions are, if you go about accomplishing them in the wrong way, you will fail.

If you are going to beta read for me, I want you to know that Alicia might not be for everyone.  I put a lot of thought into it, but if you have convictions against fantasy, please understand that there is fantasy in this book.  Magic is not portrayed in a very good light, and courage, loyalty, and love are given a higher premium, but there is still a fantasy element.

OK, that was a really serious post.  I just want to make my position abundantly clear.  If you want to beta read for me, please contact me at the above email address.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Introducing . . .

Good'ay, folks!

I have the most exciting news!  First of all, if you haven't joined the giveaway yet at Jessica Greyson's blog for Valentine's Day, you really need to.  You only have a few days left, and Christmas at the Tittletons is just one of FIFTEEN, yes, FIFTEEN, books in the Ultimate Book Lover's Giveaway.

But now, for the most exciting part of things, I am here to announce that Christmas at the Tittletons is officially available as an eBook!

You can get it here:


Now that CatT is out in eBook format, I can focus more on my next editing and publishing project, which is huge.  I am now working on Alicia, and have already spent a good chunk of time revising it.  It's a massive job, lovelies.  Massive.

As of right now, though, I'm trying to gather a list of possible future beta readers for Alicia.  If any of you are interested, please let me know right away.  I'll get back with you soon after you contact me.

Of course, I'll still be working on other writing projects, but my publishing project of the moment is Alicia.

I hope you all have a lovely, if snowy, day!

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beautiful People--Aunic Pekorin

Hello, lovely bloglings!

We had snow today, which was slightly exciting.  Even though I'm a Yankee, living in the south has set my winter expectations low.  We got a goodly amount today, though, and I am happy!  *Insert enormous grins here*

But this post is not about snow, but about Aunic Pekorin, with whom I am slightly obsessed at the moment.  He's one of my characters in The Peasants of Niminwell, which I've been working on but not blogging about, as I've obviously been absent from the blogging world for quite some time.

Anywho . . .

Here's Aunic:

Aunic Pekorin, the shiftless spy and the father of Howard and Marc
Aunic Pekorin
Poor Aunic has a hard time of it.  He's the younger brother of Lisya Pekorin, one of the four viewpoint characters, and he's a puzzle to most of the people that he meets.  He has only one friend, a slightly simple master of disguise named Nouso Deraston.  And he's a spy.  Even though he's not in a huge amount of the story, the whole plot hinges on him.  However, to the questions!  I'm using questions for a villain, even though Aunic isn't necessarily the bad guy of the story.

1. What is his motive? 
His motive is deep.  When his wife died, he didn't want to have anything to do with his son Howard, who was permanently injured in the same accident that killed his wife.  He feels that Howard is responsible for his wife's death, and he can't stand to look at him.  So his motive, I suppose, is to avoid his son.  He does, however, want to take care of his friend Nouso, who is not all there.

2. What is he prepared to do to get what he wants?
Aunic is prepared to sacrifice everything but his friend.  He'll even give up his honor, which he did long ago.

3. Is he evil to the core, or simply misunderstood? 
He's neither.  Aunic is not misunderstood.  People have a hard time fathoming his actions, but they all know where he stands in relationship to his family.  Nor is he completely evil.  He's more bitter than evil, but he has a sense of justice that keeps him from going completely over the brink.

4. What was his past like? What about his childhood? Was there one defining moment that made him embrace his evil ways?
Aunic grew up as a peasant boy, the son of a blacksmith in Niminwell.  He's never been interested in being a blacksmith, and he's always been slightly aloof, never trying to make friends.  The defining moment that made him embrace his evil ways was when his wife was killed trying to save their son from a frightened horse.

5. Now that he's evil, has he turned his back on everyone, or is there still someone in his life that he cares for? (Brother? Daughter? Love interest? Mother? Someone who is just as evil as he is?)
Aunic definitely cares for Nouso, which is an odd quirk in his character, considering that he is something of an introvert.  But Nouso's state touches Aunic's sympathy, so that's good, I suppose.

6. Does he like hugs?
Are you kidding?  Aunic would probably consider hugs some advanced form of Korvaskian torture.

7. Is he plagued by something? (Nightmares, terrible thoughts?)
Deep down Aunic knows that he needs to right his relationship with Howard, but he doesn't think about his old life any more than he can help.  Most of the time Aunic is worried about Nouso.

8. Who is he more similar to: Gollum or Maleficent?
He's a Gollum sort of character.  He's not purposefully malicious, but he does have that aspect of hiding away and letting bitterness eat out his soul just as Gollum let the Ring devour him.

9. If your villain could have their choice of transportation what would it be?
Aunic would give a lot for a horse, but that's transportation for knights and nobles.

10. If you met your villain in the street, how afraid would you be? Are they evil enough to kill their creator? 
No, I wouldn't be afraid.  Aunic has problems, but he would never harm a woman or child.  He has a sort of gruff chivalry that his father taught him.  He has hurt, or worse, a few men in his time, but only on provocation.  I wouldn't be scared of him, just sorry for him.

Well, that was fun.  It definitely helped me to organize a few things about Aunic's character that were puzzling me.  And now, let us have some snippets!

Venian rode up, her travel veil fluttering about her face and getting into her mouth in a most annoying manner.
            “Aunic Pekorin, what are you up to?” she asked.
            Aunic bowed with a smile.  “I am only traveling, my lady.  Surely that is not now a crime in Kempra?”
            “No, I suppose not,” said Venian, staring with distaste at his friend, the infamous Nouso Deraston.  Everyone said that he was not right in the head, and Venian was the first to believe it, especially since Deraston had ripped a tapestry in the castle once when he and Aunic had come to see James.  No one knew why Aunic traveled with him, for Aunic did not seem the type of person who would want the added responsibility of a lunatic.
            That was one of the nice things about a traveling veil.  She could stare at people and they would never know.
~ The Peasants of Niminwell


“Even I’m not foolish enough to strike up a friendship with the likes of her,” said Cadmio as he poured out a cup of water for Lonny to drink.
            “How is that foolish?” asked Lonny.  “Just because she is lame and underfed doesn’t mean we all have to hate her.”
            “You know perfectly well her lameness has nothing to do with it,” said Cadmio.
            “How did you even know that I talked to her?” asked Lonny.
            “Because she was extremely worried about you and said that it was because you had been kind to her.  I wouldn’t do that if I were you.  Everyone already hates you.  You don’t want them to try to actively destroy your reputation.”
            “I’m already a coward.”
            “Only because you’ve let them push you.  Push back!”
            “And get whipped again?”
            “They won’t whip you if you show your own strength.”
            “Go away, and leave Willa alone,” said Lonny.  He was growing extremely irritated with the pushy page.  “If you’re not against me then you’re not against her.”
            Cadmio raised his eyebrows.  “Are you making an actual assertion?  I didn’t think you had it in you.”
            “Just don’t hurt her.  No matter who she is, she needs a little happiness and at least one friend.  The poor child doesn’t even know how to smile properly.”
The Peasants of Niminwell


Howard leaned on the fence and looked at his aunt.  “I met Jacob Grudd, Auntie.”
            Lisya looked up and glared at him.  “Tell that fat-purse that I would sooner give my money to the Korvaskians than to him.”
            “He said he could make you pay if you didn’t.”
            “I’d like to see him try that little trick.  I would send him packing soon enough.  Honestly, it’s as though the man bears a grudge against me ever since I refused to marry him.”
            “Don’t you think you’d make him a good wife?” asked Howard.
            “Of course!” said Lisya.  “I would make him a wonderful wife.  I would make any man a wonderful wife.  The only problem is that he would make me a dreadful sort of husband.”
~ The Peasants of Niminwell


Wester had to listen to the mindless chatter of Lady Coscala, one of Sunningdeep’s largest and most influential dowagers.  Her tongue was as endless as her waist, or so it seemed to Wester, who was seated beside her.  He smiled politely and wished her in the heart of Korvask.
            Lady Coscala, however, was not in the heart of Korvask but occupying the chair directly next to Wester and almost part of his as well.
            “My dear prince, I hope you are eager to meet Lady Carmilla at the ball tomorrow,” said Lady Coscala, and Wester wondered how her chair did not collapse.  He was certain that he heard a creak in the legs thereof.
            “Yes, Lady Coscala,” said Wester.
            “You understand that Lady Carmilla is one of the most eligible young ladies in Eshtelroth.  Even a prince would be happy to obtain her as a wife.  She has an impeccable genealogy and a fortune that rivals that of the king.”
            “Wonderful,” said Wester.
            “And, of course, as her second cousin I know that she is also a very sweet young lady with so much charm and wit,” continued Lady Coscala.
            “I’m sure,” said Wester.
            Lady Coscala’s chair groaned as she shifted her considerable weight in it.  Wester winced, positive that the chair was going to collapse.
            “Of course, I know that you are going to be looking for a wife soon, if you haven’t already started,” said Lady Coscala.
            “Oh,” said Wester.
            “And, well, I don’t want you to think that Lady Carmilla is better just because she is my cousin,” said Lady Coscala.
            “I won’t,” said Wester.
            “But, my dear prince, the fact of the matter is that Lady Carmilla is a very superior woman.  I cannot say enough about her.”  Lady Coscala beamed benevolently.  Her fleshy face wrinkled up so that her eyes were quite lost beneath folds of fat.  Wester was rather disgusted.
            “So I’ve noticed,” said Wester.
~ The Peasants of Niminwell

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Writing and Writing

Do you ever have a time when you feel really, really sick of writing?

That is, you've been writing for days on end, or maybe even only hours, and then you sort of peter out and you can't think of another sentence--another phrase--to save your life.  You push back your chair and get up, and your head is spinning with the immense complexity of characters and subplots, and when someone speaks to you, you mumble and look off into the distance.  Yet, after you have a nice, soothing cup of (coffee, tea, hot cocoa) you find that you have to slip back into your chair and keep on writing, because the words are coming so quickly that you can't keep up with them all.

How I feel when I get into the "writing zone."
I had that very experience on Saturday.  My mother calls it the "zone."  When I'm at home, I shut myself up in my room, emerging only for meals until at last I have simply run out of words.  Then I step forth, a wreck of humanity with bags of blackness 'neath my weary eyes and an additional 27,396 words on my manuscript.  When I'm at school, as I am now, I sit at my desk cluttered with textbooks and papers and type so quickly that smoke issues forth from my computer and my roommate eyes me suspiciously.

And people say that you shouldn't write just because the words flow.

Well, actually, you probably shouldn't.  Because even though I might be in the writing zone now, this time next week I will almost assuredly be out of it, and I won't be able to make a hundred words flow if I liquidate a dictionary.  We call that writer's block.  I get it.  Sometimes I get it when I'm in the middle of the writing zone, and it's really hard.  But you can overcome writer's block.

KEEP WRITING

If you've been a writer for any length of time, then you know this advice well.  But do you actually follow it?  Because you know that there's writing the free and easy way and there's writing the strained and difficult way, and most of your writing, if you're serious about it, is going to come the strained and difficult way.

So how do you keep writing?  If you're out of words, then you're out of words, right?

WRONG!

You are a writer!  A writer always has words.  Writing, though, is like eating ice cream.  The following analogy works well for all ice cream lovers, and if you don't like ice cream, please imagine your favorite kind of edible eaten with a spoon from a bowl.  When you're in the writing zone, it's like eating that bowl of ice cream.  Everything comes easily onto the spoon and into the mouth, and everyone's happy.  But as soon as the main part of the ice cream is gone, all you have left is a little melty sludge in the bottom of your dish.  Sadness!  It's like that with words, too.  You have to scrape your brain for those words.  They're harder to get, but, like the ice cream in the dish, they're also the best part.  (If you're anything like me you won't let your ice cream dish leave while there's the ghost of a chance that a single drop of ice cream might be in it.)  

Think of those hard words like those last drops of ice cream, the sweetest drops of the whole.  You will find yourself in love with the parts of your writing that you really had to work at, because those are the parts that really count.  Writing, just like any other thing of worth, requires hard work to make the best final product.  Writing is sometimes inspiration, but that's only the beginning.  It's not hard to eat a dish of ice cream, but only the people who scrape out the bottom of the ice cream bowl know what the best part is.

Thanks for reading and God bless,