Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Rambles About Life + Shameful Confessions + May Hiatus



Sooo…I’m going on another hiatus. *cough* My perfectionist self is beating me up over this since I already went on one in January. I can’t go another month not posting on my blog. I post every week. THAT’S THE RULE. But, ya know, January was a few months ago. And I don’t think the world will explode if I go another few weeks without posting…? Maybe? Hopefully?


Okay, but for reals, this wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I think it’ll be for the best.


See, I have a lot going in May. As in THREE graduations three weeks in a row. Two of which are out of town, one of which is my own little sister (!!!!). And, on top of that, there’s a billion other things going down in May. Life has been busy, and is about to get busier. It’s a GOOD busy. I’m actually very excited about life right now. So this is not an I’m-too-drained-from-life-to-blog type of hiatus like I took in January. This is a life-is-too-full-and-exciting-to-worry-about-blogging thing.


Remember last Monday when I admitted I was a rare unicorn extroverted writer? Well, guys, I’m catering to my extroverted needs in May and putting away the computer for a bit to soak up life. I just want to LIVE. To be a part of all the exciting things going down. Not obligated to sit in front of the computer for a few hours blogging every week.


Now, don’t get me wrong. Blogging actually helps my extrovertedness (totally a word, shhh) because I get to interact with YOU GUYS, which is basically my favorite thing of ever. I don’t know how I ever survived without all my blogging friends. You’re the BEST. But, sadly, I don’t know you in person. IT’S A TRAGEDY. If only I could talk to you each in person all the time. *dreamy sigh* That’d be the life.


BUT ANYWAY.


All this to say, I LOVE my blog, and I LOVE all of you, and taking a hiatus is not easy. But I also think I need to just soak up life for a bit and enjoy this time of friends and family graduating and things. I’m super pumped about May and I don’t want any computer obligations taking me away from that.


With that said, I’m gonna admit something shameful to you… You know how my BIG PLANS for 2017 was to buckle down and get super serious about my writing. To edit Burning Thorns and be active on social media and start searching for literary agents and work on query letters and all that fun stuff? Well…


I haven’t done any of it. I, erm, haven’t even started editing on Burning Thorns.


*hides in a hole of shame for eternity*


IT’S TRUUUUUE! D:


On the one hand, I’m utterly horrified and ashamed that we’re nearly to MAY, and I haven’t done any of that stuff. But on the other hand…I’m at peace with it.


See, when I made these plans in January, I had no idea what this year would bring. I thought it’d be any other normal, boring year and I’d have plenty of time to work on my writing career. Well, life didn’t work out that way. Instead, this year is proving to be exciting with changes coming. Which is GREAT. I’ve needed a change desperately! But, as a result, my writing has been pushed aside.


With all that said, I’ve been playing the horrid game of Guilt for months. I should be editing. I should be more active on social media. Why have I not started searching for literary agents? I AM ALL THE SHAME. But then I realized: I don’t think this is the time for that. I think God wants me to just focus on LIFE right now. After all, I have all the rest of my life to work on writing. It’s not like I have deadlines. If I put off editing for a couple of months, THE WORLD WILL NOT END. *gasp* Crazy thought!


SO. As I came to this conclusion, I’ve felt a peace. I’ve made a plan to officially put off all my Writing Plans for another couple of months. Don’t get me wrong. Writing = LIFE. It’s still my main priority for my future! But, for this specific time, I think I need to close the laptop now and again and just enjoy life. To be with friends and family and enjoy being out and about and busy, instead of holed up in my room writing or feeling guilty about not being holed up in my room writing.


I honestly think that’s what God wants of me right now.


BUT DO NOT WORRY. Once life settles back into a normal routine, I’m sure I’ll be chomping at the bit, desperate to return to writing. I can’t ever go long without it. It’s a part of me, and without it I feel empty. And I DO plan on returning to blogging sometime in June! No way am I abandoning my blog for too long. That would be a TRAGEDY.


But for the month of May, I’m just gonna LIVE. Which may also mean not commenting on blogs and emailing as much either. I’m not sure yet. BUT I’LL BE BACK, GUYS. I PROMISE.


I love you all, and hope your May is an absolutely frabjous one!

 

So, tell me, what are your May plans? Any graduations? Any fun summer doings? (Can you believe it’s nearly SUMMER? o.O) What’s going on in your lives? I WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT. Chat with me!

Monday, April 24, 2017

EXTROVERTED WRITER: The Struggle is Real (and so are we)



According to #Society, I’m a unicorn.
I mean, I’ve never confirmed nor denied this claim. I could be a majestic, magical creature that rides on rainbows.


*smile, smile*


But in this particular case, I’m talking about the fact that I DON’T EXIST. (Which, again, could be true. Maaaybe I’m a figment of all your imaginations. *wriggles fingers in the air making scary ghost noises* Whoooo.) Because, you see, I am in fact an…


EXTROVERTED WRITER.


*collected gasp*


But but but. That’s not POSSIBLE. Those don’t exist! Should we sell it to science to be studied? Should we protect it before it goes extinct completely? Should we just laugh because this has to be a prank? An extroverted writer? Psssh. An impossibility!


Yes, yes. According to #Society, if one is a writer, they must be an introvert. And you know what? I GET IT. Yep, I do. The traits of a writer do often tend to lean toward introverted traits. I’m honestly not mad at #Society with this claim. It amuses me endlessly. (Mainly because it makes me a unicorn, but shhh, that’s a secret.) If I’m being real here, most of the writers I know are, in fact, introverts. Maybe the introverted writer is the more common variety. It makes SENSE.


Because introverts tend to be…

 

  • Great at focusing on their worlds and characters.
  • Okay with spending time alone into pouring over their writing.
  • Fantastic observers of the world, which aids immensely with writing good, wholesome, real stories.
  • AWESOME thinkers. They have a wonderful ability to think deeply about a subject and really dig into it.
  • And they need a form of escapism to recharge, and writing is the BEST for that.


If I’m being honest here, I very often envy the introverted mind. Like I said, they obverse the world so beautifully and think so deeply. And they can FOCUS and disappear in their worlds.


Now, please, please, please, don’t think I’m trying to stereotype here! You may be an introvert and reading this thinking, “What on earth? I’m NOTHING like that!” I know every person on the earth is different. (Which I think is the most wonderful thing about our beautiful earth.) So do please disagree with me here! These are just things I’ve observed from the many precious introverts I have in my life.


What I’m really getting at here is: YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING WRITERS. And I envy your magical abilities!


Because I have a confession: BEING AN EXTROVERTED WRITER IS HARD. For me personally anyway. And why is that? Because…


I want to be out DOING. I want to be out in the world and with people all. the. time.


I don’t want to spend time locked away in my room in front of the computer screen. I’m my happiest when I’m constantly on the go, out and about, seeing other people. Or, even when I’m home, I want to hang out with my family.


Spending hours holed up by myself editing? I DON’T WANNA.


So you may be saying, “Why not take your computer to a coffee shop or something where there are people? Best of both worlds, right?”


WRONG.


I have been cursed with the inability to be able to write with people around. I can’t disappear into my story at all if there’s even a single soul nearby. I get too much focused on them, or just want to talk and hang out, than try to be quiet and actually WRITE. It is not possible! If there are people, I want to immerse in the people! I have to be 100% alone (save for my poodle who is my writing buddy…though even then I get distracted by petting her and talking to her instead of writing, but I digress) to focus enough to write properly.  IT’S A PROBLEM.


BUT.


Being an extroverted writer is not all a struggle. My personality actually often aids in my writing as well.


And I have a list for you guys as to how my unfocused brain somehow manages to create people and worlds and throw them on a page and call it a novel.

 

TRAITS OF THE
EXTROVERTED WRITER

 

FINDING INTERESTING
REAL-LIFE CHARACTERS


Since I thrive off being out and doing, it gives me a chance to experience the world and glean story ideas from it. Such as at the little secondhand bookstore I work at, I meet all sorts of fascinating characters to strike up conversations with. I’ve listened to many an interesting story. It’s very inspiring.

 

SOAK UP THE WORLD


I tend to soak up every minute I step outside of the house because that’s when I’m my happiest. When I’m in a place with a ton of people, I soak up everything around me, and then (hopefully) take part of everything I can. I don’t want to just watch, I want to do, to experience. And then, in turn, I learn what it feels like and can accurately portray similar experiences in my novels.

 

PEOPLE PEOPLE PEOPLE


I’m not book smart, guys. I can’t spout off awesome historical facts or give you the scientific reason about…anything, and even my grammar is much to be desired (#shamefulwriterconfessions), but I know PEOPLE. I’ve been told writing real characters is my biggest writing strong suit, and I tend to think the same. BECAUSE I LOVE PEOPLE.


People is where I thrive. And not only that, I get people. I understand how they think and why they do the things they do, and I am a total nerd about it. When I need to research something for my novel, I whine and groan and put it off for 2239384 years (I’m just not the intellectual type, guys). And yet, I’ll spend hours studying the Myers-Briggs personalities JUST BECAUSE. Simply for fun! I’m the biggest nerd when it comes to personalities and just PEOPLE.


Characters is 100000000% my FAVORITE part of the writing life. I could create characters ‘til the end of time. Because PEOPLE.


As an extrovert, I want to be with people all the time. And I gain experience from it, I hear interesting stories which is very inspiring, I learn more and more about how people think.


And, to go along with this point…

 

BEING A CHAMELEON


Okay, so I don’t think this is an exclusive extroverted trait, or even a common trait in anyone. This is more a my specific personality thing (and I’m an ENFJ/ESFJ, because I know you were all dying to know). See, when I’m with a person or group of people I tend to…become them. I adapt to their personality and way of life and just kind of be like them. It’s very odd, and probably not the best thing because, ya know, I should be myself. And I AM. It’s not to say I change my views on things when I’m with people. Not at all! And once I’m away from people, I’m back to being 100% myself. I can just easily blend in and adapt to different types of people. Which actually serves to be very useful. Because it means I get along with most personality types, and because I go into chameleon mode, I experience all the different personality types I’m with and can accurately portray them in my novels.


Weird, I know, but it’s true.


~ ~ ~


So being an extroverted writer isn’t all difficulties.


Now if only I can focus and tear myself away from people now and again to actually write… Ahem.


But you know what, guys? I WILL ALWAYS WRITE. Yes, it can be extremely challenging being an extroverted writer who is cursed with not being able to write with people around. But writing is my LIFE. Perhaps I fail at focusing and need to set aside more time to work on it, but my goal is to make a career out of writing one day, and I don’t plan on stopping.


Besides, writing doesn’t always hinder my extroverted needs. It can often aid them.

 

  • It gives me new experiences. Currently I’m not able to travel all over the world and experience it like I’d love to do, but with writing I can. Not only can I explore anywhere in the world, I can explore places that don’t even EXIST. (And, let’s be real here, those are my favorites. #FantasyWriter)

 

  • PEOPLE. Have I mentioned I love people? Well, when I can’t get my “social fix” I can always, always immerse myself in endless amounts of people via writing. Often, when I write and spend a ton of time with beloved characters, I get nearly as recharged as I would having lunch with friends or something. I get to be with people in writing and ANY and ALL the people I want to! IT’S THE BEST.

 

  • Excitement! Extroverts (or at least this one) want excitement in their lives. It’s often the stereotype (and sometimes accurate stereotype) that we’re full of energy. Well…I have health problems that make me physically not full of any energy most of the time, even though mentally I want to be. I’d love to go skydiving or mountain climbing or hiking across Middle Earth to destroy the One Ring but HAHAHAHAHA. No. I’ll never be able to. But that’s okay because I have BOOKS. If I want an experience, I can just write about it! It’s magical.



DISCLAIMER:
This post is not to try to stereotype or try to claim one type of person can write better than another. We are ALL unique individuals with strengths and weaknesses. And the beauty of that means we get a wide range of different types of books which is the BEST. (Who wants all novels to be the same? Ewwww!) I don’t for one second think introverts don’t have these traits. In fact, I know a couple of introverts who are masters at understanding people. Because *gasp* we’re not all defined by stereotypical labels! WHO KNEW? Introverts and extroverts can also come to the same conclusion, just with different approaches. Such as an extrovert may learn something by experiencing it, and an introvert may learn by observing.


What’s funny is I do have quite a lot of introverted tendencies. I do like to be alone sometimes and I’m often so quiet people mistake me for an introvert. (Which is kind of a funny story. I hate being quiet… I loooooove to talk. But see, I’m just the rare extrovert who’s the worst at coming up with or carrying a conversation. So I stay quiet even when I desperately want to talk. I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAAAAY. D: It’s very frustrating!) But I am charged up by people and can get depressed if I’m home too much.


But the main reason I write is because I can’t not. God gave me a passion for it and, yes, I have my struggles. But we all do. Writing is hard, grueling work and we ALL want to just go marathon a TV show or be out with friends instead of focusing on writing sometimes (okay, a lot of times). That’s just part of the #WritersLife. But we write anyway. Because, introvert or extrovert, when we are given the passion of writing, there’s no force on this earth powerful enough to keep us away from it forever.


We write because we love it. And that’s all that matters.

 

Okay, my beloved writers, SPILL IT. Are you an introverted or extroverted writer? Somewhere in between? Do you relate to any of these traits? Do you have any writing stereotypes or any things that completely break the stereotype of your personality? What’s YOUR number one writing struggle? And what’s your writing strong suit? LET US CHAT ALL THE THINGS.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dual Character Inquisition Tag - Larke and Marigold



Hello, my lovelies! I hope you all had a blessed Easter yesterday!


Today I’m doing something fun. About 34543998 years ago (or a few months, but who’s counting?) I was tagged by Kate @ Story and Dark Chocolate for the Dual Character Inquisition Tag. Then, just recently, Tracey @ Adventure Awaits also tagged me for it. I’m sure all of you are aware that I’m the worst about never getting around to tags (which is odd, because I love tags! I am a paradox, guys), but this one I just had to do. Because, hello? IT’S ABOUT CHARACTERS. And you all know fictional characters is my favorite subject on this planet or any other.


The gist of this tag is that you choose two of your own characters and answer the questions about them, include a picture of them, and pass the tag on to 3 more bloggers. Simple, right? Buuuut, me being me, I can’t help but shake it up a bit.


Instead of me answering the questions about my characters, I’m going to let them do it. Annnd of course I couldn’t choose two cordial characters to toss together. Oh no. That’d be boring.


For the tag I’m thrusting together Larke and Marigold from Burning Thorns. For those who don’t know, Marigold is Rose’s (my main female character) sister and, erm, “brat” is probably the best word to describe her. Then Larke is…how does one explain Larke? He’s a mischievous fae who causes all sorts of trouble for the other characters (andmayormaynotbemyfavorite). Watching loud and fiery Marigold and cocky, impish Larke interact was probably my favorite bits to write in Burning Thorns.


But enough babbling from me. It’s time for you to meet them for yourselves!



Who inspired this character?

Me: Okay, actually, I’m gonna answer this questions myself before I hand things over to them.


My characters are very rarely inspired by anyone specific. I don’t think I’ve ever just “planned” a character. They just…are. They pretty much always pop in my head fully formed. With Marigold, I knew I needed a couple of older sisters for Rose (since this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling), and Marigold, the sulky middle sister, just happened.


With Larke, when I was about to expand the novella of Burning Thorns into a novel, I knew I wanted to add a character. About 2.5 seconds after this thought, Larke was there waving at me with that cocky sideways smile of his. And he hasn’t left me alone since…


OKAY. Now they’re going to answer the questions.

 

What is your weapon of choice?

Marigold: I—


Larke: Marigold uses her tongue. She can talk people to an early grave.


Marigold: Hey! You interrupted me!


Larke: It’s the only way to get a word in. Oh, but wait, I forgot, she’s also fond of smacking certain people with her parasol. *rubs shoulder, grimacing* There was also that one time she threw perfectly good fruit at me. Really, it’s dangerous to have any inanimate objects in her reach.


Marigold: I wish I had a big heavy stick in my reach right now and a bullseye on your forehead.


Larke: See? She’s a monster.


Marigold: Well, what about you? You’re the one that steals peoples' memories and curiosity and who knows what else with your— *waves a hand in the air* shadowy abilities.


Larke: *smiles*

 

Have you ever been physically violent with someone else? What instigated it?

Larke: Aha, look at that, I’ve already answered this question. Parasols, fruit. And she hit me with a cushion once. Let’s also not forget the time she right-out slapped me.


Marigold: You deserved far worse than that! And you all want to know what instigated it? Larke! Him just breathing instigates violence.


Larke: *clutches chest* See? I told you all. Her tongue is her weapon. She got me right to the core.


Marigold: Oh, stop being dramatic. How many times have you been physically violent, hm?


Larke: I’m perfectly well-mannered, thank you.


Marigold: You? *bursts into laughter*


Larke: What?


Marigold: *keeps laughing*


Larke: Seriously. Tell me once you witnessed me be physically violent?


Marigold: *laughter stops abruptly* Well…I…


Larke: Mh-hm. See?


Marigold: Well, that’s probably because you use much worse methods to harm people!


Larke: *opens mouth* *closes it again*


Marigold: He’s the absolute worst, people.


Larke: *mutters something about tongues being weapons*

 

Are you more of a rule-follower or a rebel?

Marigold: Hahaha! Larke as a rule-follower? That’s hilarious!


Larke: *merely shrugs* Rules are meant to be broken, that’s the only use for them. Besides, you’re not exactly Miss Rule-follower yourself.


Marigold: I do too follow the rules! I’m a lady.


Larke: *this time he bursts into laughter*


Marigold: It’s true! Ugh, you’re obnoxious.

 

What kind of child were you? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Larke: Oh, oh! Let me guess this one for you. You were the perfectly quiet, out of the way, contented child, yes?


Marigold: *face turns red* And I bet you weren’t devious or rotten or rude or naughty.


Larke: I imagine you never once had a big mouth.


Marigold: And you minded your parents every single day.


Larke: I’m just positive you never had a tantrum every single time someone told you no. If you’ve ever been told no.


Marigold: Your nickname was probably Angel Child.


Larke: People most likely feared you were mute you were so quiet.


Marigold: Other children’s parents envied your parents for having such a perfect little boy.


Larke: *grins* Wow. We know each other so well.


Marigold: *bites lips, eyes twinkling, as if stifling a smile*

 

Where would you go to relax and think?

Marigold: My favorite place is our gardens. It’s quiet and smells nice and makes me think of Mother…


Larke: Mmm. I have lots of places in the Forest to retreat to. But I’m not going to publicly announce my favorite little haunts. But relaxing and thinking isn’t something I do often. I’d much rather be out doing things.


Marigold: *snorts* Thinking is definitely not something you do often.


Larke: ….
I guess I set myself up for that one.


Marigold: *smirks*

 

Do you have a temper?

Larke: Do I even need to say it for her?


Marigold: Hush!


Larke: Nope. I don’t. While I, for one, have a very mellow temper. *casts her a smug smile* You can never get to me, dear.


Marigold: Ugh!

 

Would you be more likely to face your fears or run from them?

Larke & Marigold: *shares an uncomfortable glance*


Larke: *clears throat* Let’s give an alternate option: Make your fears disappear completely so you never have to face them.


Marigold: *mutters under her breath* Coward.


Larke: Oh? So sulking in your room every time something bad happens is the answer?


Marigold: Can we just go to the next question, please?

 

When you are upset, do you turn to other people or isolate yourself?

Marigold: I use to go to Mother but… Well, I suppose I’d rather just be by myself.


Larke: Oh dear. The world is about to freeze over or something dramatic because, for once, we actually agree. Why would I ever put my trust in someone else when I have myself? I know of no one better to rely on.


Marigold: I can think of a few million people better.

 

Say 3 things about where you live (as broad or specific as you like).

Marigold: Well, first things first, I live in Mendar, which is the capitol city of the kingdom of Cantrelle where—


Larke:
Shadows alive, don’t give Marigold permission to be as broad and specific as she likes! We’ll be here ‘til the end of time!


Marigold: Will you stop interrupting me!


Larke: I told you, it’s the only way to get a word in. And I’m trying to save these poor people from hearing endless facts about your boring human kingdom.


Marigold: I like my kingdom! But fine, if you’re going to be that way, then you tell three facts about my home, because I have a few things to say about yours.


Larke: What’s there to say? There are humans, not nearly enough trees, and too many buildings that are square and entirely uninteresting.


Marigold: Well, his home is in the Forest which is always dark, full of hideous creatures and things trying to kill you for absolutely no reason, and has too many trees that move which is far too unnatural and creepy. Then there’s that awful river constantly trying to drown anyone that gets near it. And the shadows move. Not to mention it’s way too cold—


Larke: I think we’re getting way past three things.


Marigold: Like you would even know. You’re the worst at counting.


Larke: Hey, it’s not my fault numbers are slithery little things.


Marigold: You’re slithery.


Larke: Excuse me?


Marigold: You’re slithery, like a snake. Devious and cunning and awful.


Larke: You think I’m cunning? I’m flattered.


Marigold: Ugh!


~ ~ ~


Ooookay! I think I should stop it there or they’ll be at it all day.


Well…it could have gone worse? At least they didn’t try to murder one another, that’s a plus!


SO. Passing this thing on to 3 other bloggers!


TAGGING


Skye @ Ink Castles | Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings | Victoria @ Wanderer's Pen | + absolutely ANYONE ELSE who wants to do it because this tag is way too much fun!



Here are the original questions for your convenience:


-Who inspired this character?
-What is their weapon of choice?
-Have they ever been physically violent with someone else? What instigated it?
-Are they more of a rule-follower or a rebel?
-What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
-Where would they go to relax and think?
-Do they have a temper?

-Would they be more likely to face their fears or run from them?

-When they are upset, do they turn to other people or isolate themselves?

-Say 3 things about where your character lives (as broad or specific as you like).

 

Whew! We survived this without too much violence (one can never tell with these two). Soooo…what did you think of Larke and Marigold? They’re um…yeah.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What Beauty and the Beast Means to Me


 

DISCLAIMER:
I’m just going to start out and say this post has nothing to do with the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie. So if you’re groaning thinking, “Another post about that movie?” No fear! This is about the ORIGINAL FAIRYTALE. I’ve actually been meaning to write this post for, honestly, a couple of years now. And I thought since Beauty and the Beast is on everyone’s mind, this would be a great time to finally get around to it. Secondly, I want to make it clear that this is an OPINION post, not a FACTS post. As in, this will be about my personal opinions on the original B&B fairytale, not in any way straight up facts about it. So do feel free to disagree!


Alrighty, now that that’s out of the way, onward to the actual post!


As I think all of you know at this point, I’m currently (or supposed to be) going through my second round of edits on my Beauty and the Beast retelling, Burning Thorns, in hopes to pursue publishing with it. Because of that, I thought it might be good to explain why I’m putting my heart and soul into a Beauty and the Beast story.


Long story short: It’s hands down my favorite fairytale. “But WHY?” you may be asking. OR some of you may be saying, “Why not? It’s a good story!”


The magical thing about fairytales is that they can be interpreted in dozens of different ways, and mean a hundred different things to each of us. And I love that! These short stories pretty much always have a life lesson (or 20) woven into them. Albert Einstein himself was a great advocate for fairytales and had this to say about them:


If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.”


Sure, they’re often weird and dark and creepy, but isn’t life weird and often dark as well? Fairytales (and fiction in general) help us press through the darkness and find the “happily ever afters”. They teach us how to deal with the crazy, hard things that happen in our life, and learn good vs. evil. As G.K. Chesterson said:


Fairytales are more than true; not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”


We have so many “dragons” in our lives—those hardships and darkness that seem undefeatable. But fairytales teach us we can defeat the darkness and spread the light.


And what is the greatest source of light? LOVE. Because love is the key to all the good in the world. As I said in this post about love, it is the very thing that put Jesus on the Cross and paved the way to His waiting, open arms. Love is everything.


Which brings us back to Beauty and the Beast.



Many, many people see Beauty and the Beast as a story that merely glorifies Stockholm syndrome (which is what they call it when a hostage grows feelings toward their captor) and claims it’s okay to marry an animal (which, obviously, is anything but okay).


Now, again I’ll say, fairytales can be interpreted in so many ways, which is one of the reasons I love them so much. So if you think these things about B&B and  don’t like it because of that, THAT’S OKAY. Like I said in the disclaimer, this post is about my personal feelings toward Beauty and the Beast. And, obviously, we can’t all feel the exact same way about every story in the world. And why would we want to? That’d be boring! I love it when people interpret stories differently. It makes the story fascinating and deep, which is GOOD. That’s how we want stories to be. But because a lot of people feel this way about Beauty and the Beast, I wanted to explain how *I* feel about it since I am hoping to try to have my own B&B retelling published one day.


So let’s look at the Stockholm syndrome and animal-Beast problems.


Firstly, Stockholm syndrome. In the tale, the Beast actually does let Beauty go. And it is when she is free, that she realizes she loves him. Besides, it was always, always her choice if to marry him or not. And, on that subject, she was never forced into anything, never manipulated into loving him. She fell in love with the Beast because he was actually a total sweetie. Maybe he had his grumpy moments, but who wouldn’t when they’re cursed into being a hideous beast forever and isolated because of it, hmm? The Beast’s natural personality was actually virtuous and sweet tempered, which Beauty quickly realizes. He gave Beauty all the comforts in the world, and when she told him she desperately missed her father, he let her leave, knowing very well that she may not come back. Stockholm syndrome, I think, often arises as a form of survival. Hostages form a bond with their captors to avoid further harm. But in Beauty and the Beast, Beauty learns, within her first days of being in the Beast’s castle, that the Beast is by no means going to harm her. She realizes she need not fear him. She simply falls in love with him because he is kind. I don’t think it was ever the original author’s intention to pen a tale on Stockholm syndrome.



As far as the Beast being an animal, I personally believe that’s more how the person pictures him. Disney’s version of the Beast has actually bothered me for years. His appearance is far too animalistic for my comfort. (Though the original Disney animated movie is one of my favorites, but still.) Let’s not forget, the Disney version is a retelling itself. It drives me batty when people base fairytales off Disney’s movies of them. Disney’s versions are retellings just as much as any other. In fact, their movies pretty much never, in any form or fashion, resemble the original fairytales. (But that’s a rant for a whole ‘nother time.) The Beast we see in the movie is simply Disney’s own interpretation. And yes, there are a lot of illustrations picturing him as animal-like. But that doesn’t mean he has to be. The story never actually gives us details on his appearance besides calling him a “beast” and “monster”. But that can be interpreted into a million different ways. Now, some much more knowledgeable than me history buff may come in and comment that the original tale very much meant the Beast as having an animal appearance (and if that’s the case, do tell! I love learning the origin of fairytales), but I will say that the Beast is, in fact, human by the end, and was always originally a human. He was just cursed. So no, I don’t think this story is in any way claiming that it’s okay to marry animals. Still, I don’t like the versions that make him out to look animalistic, which is why in Burning Thorns my Beast is still very much human, just with deformities.


But now that I’ve told you my opinions on what I think Beauty and the Beast IS NOT, the question is: What do I think Beauty and the Beast IS? And why did I wrote a retelling in the first place?


A lot of you already know Burning Thorns originally came about as a novella for Rooglewood Press's fairytale contest, and then I later decided to expand my novella into a full length novel. BUT, truth be told, I’ve been meaning to write a Beauty and the Beast retelling for, oh, probably over half my life. No joke. I adore retellings, and it’s my favorite fairytale, so it was inevitable I’d write one eventually. The contest was merely the shove for me to finally do it. And as I wrote a rendition of my favorite fairytale, I grew to love it even more.


Because, to me, Beauty and the Beast isn’t some weird story about Stockholm syndrome. For me, Beauty and the Beast is a powerful redemption story. I see it as an allegory about Jesus and us. We are all “ugly” beings, beasts in our own right, before Jesus’s redemption. No matter our unloveableness, He loves us anyway, and when we accept Him, He takes away our beastliness and makes us beautiful.


In the original fairytale, the Beast becomes the beautiful form he was always meant to be when Beauty gives him her love. BUT, Beauty does not, nor ever, love him for his appearance. She loved him before he turned back into a handsome prince.



As I said earlier, fairytales can have so many meanings. Beauty and the Beast both teaches me the beautiful love our Savior has for us, and that beauty is in the heart, not appearances.


It’s a beautiful story and, unlike many, many fairytales, actually not super dark and creepy. For me, personally, it’s simply a tale about the most powerful, important, magnificent thing in the world: Love.


So yes, I love Beauty and the Beast and have loved being able to create my own version of it. Burning Thorns is about love and sacrifice and redemption and forgiveness. Because, even though it’s vastly different from the original fairytale, it still has the core themes that the simple little tale of Beauty and the Beast has taught me.


I’ll leave with you another quote by G.K. Chesterton (bless him). His single sentence encompasses everything I’m trying to say about Beauty and the Beast and are my exact feelings toward it:


There is the great lesson of Beauty and the Beast, that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.”


Whew! I know that was long and opinionated. But I’ll say this one more time: This is my opinion. Some of you may know all about Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (the author of the original novel) or Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (the one who condensed the novel into the short, children’s story we know now) and what their original intentions for the story were. (And why they have the longest names on the planet.) But, again, this is just what the story means to me, and what I have taken away from it.


If you haven’t ever read the original Beauty and the Beast story, or are just in the mood for it, you can read it HERE. I highly recommend it. It only takes about five minutes and, well, it’s my favorite fairytale. Obviously I recommend it. *grins*


~ ~ ~


Okay, guys, it is finally your turn! I am hushing now and handing over the mic…er, the comment section, to YOU. What are YOUR thoughts on Beauty and the Beast? (If you have opposite thoughts from mine, don’t hesitate to share!) What do you think of fairytales in general? Which one, if any, is your favorite??? I NEED TO KNOW. Let us discuss!

Monday, April 3, 2017

{Book Review} The Assassin’s Daughter by Jameson C. Smith


For most of her life, Katira has trained to take on the role of assassin. While it’s far from the life she would have chosen, the law known as the Inheritance Proclamation dictates that she must follow in her father’s profession. At seventeen, she’ll be expected to use her training on a real assignment any day.

When new information about an old fugitive brings questions about Kat’s past to light, she must make a choice: Prove her loyalties to the Tederan Order and their laws, or become a fugitive to search after answers she may never find.


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Assassins. Sweet characters. Strife between lands. What more could you want?


I’ve been following Jameson’s blog for years. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know this sweet, talented girl. So when she announced she was publishing her novel…MUCH SQUEEING. MUCH FLAILING.



THE RUNDOWN


The Assassin’s Daughter is the first book in the Inheritance Proclamation series, set in a medieval-esque fantasy setting. The novel goes back and forth between Katira’s POV and her best friend, Ed, with a couple of other points-of-view thrown in occasionally. But the core focus is our girl Kat.


We start out in an academy where they train kids/teens to be professional assassins. Because, dude, math and history are too mainstream, let’s teach the kids to be MURDERERS. Sound plan. *nods*


Well, our sweet Kat doesn’t actually want to be a trained killer and be paid to murder people for the rest of her life. CRAZY, I KNOW. Unfortunately, due to a law known as the Inheritance Proclamation that claims children have to follow the profession of their parents, she’s got no choice. Because, ya know, her FATHER was an assassin. #DaddyProbs


When Kat is assigned her first official mission, it strikes a bit too close to home, and she has to decide if to defy the higher ups (which is a big no-no) or do the unthinkable.


CHARACTERS


The characters were hands down my favorite things in this novel. The relationships made the story.


Katira: (Or Kat, as she is mostly called.) I superbly appreciated Kat! At first, when I discovered Kat was one of the top rated in the academy, being super skilled with archery and sneaking and all that fun stuff, I feared a stereotypical “strong female character” which these days is pretty much synonymous for “emotionless, selfish, reckless female”. I am so sick of that kind of female protagonist! (But that’s a topic for another day.) Well, Kat wasn’t that way at all. *cheers and applauds* Kat has EMOTIONS. She’s not afraid to cry and love and be afraid. She doesn’t want to be an assassin because KILLING IS WRONG, KIDS. She doesn’t want to be in the academy because she can’t see her mother and baby sister anymore. She doesn’t have the, “I can do anything and don’t need help and am way too tough to cry,” attitude we see so often in female protagonists these days. But she wasn’t the weak and whiny character that happens a lot, too. Again, she’s one of the top rated in the academy. She can handle herself if she needs to. But, deep down, she was soft and sweet and, yes, made mistakes, but she cared about people. She was just a genuinely nice girl thrust into a world she didn’t want to be a part of. To me, she was a breath of fresh air in today’s view of “strong female characters”.


Edellion a.k.a Ed: In an academy where it’s frowned upon to have friendships because they can be a “weakness”, Kat and Ed go against the tide and form a team. Ed is Kat’s rock, and with good reason. He’s strong and protective and caring and makes witty jokes at any given opportunity. And he respects her, which was my favorite part about their friendship. When he knows she has a secret, he doesn’t push her to tell him, but lets her reveal things in her own time. When she’s going through a hard time or just needs a shoulder to cry on, he’s there. He never tells her to tough it out, he simply lets her be her and is always sympathetic. And that respects goes both ways. I think that’s another thing we just don’t see much anymore in YA novels. Aside from their relationship, Ed himself is just a precious human being. He can have a temper, and may rush into things a little too quickly, but he always tries to do what’s right, and that’s what matters.


Bayor: Kat and Ed’s mentor was a lovely addition to the story. He had that classic comfortable mentor personality that every fantasy story needs. He’s a little quiet and rough around the edges, but still makes jokes with Kat and Ed, and tends to care more about them than the law. His character was complex as well. You know he holds secrets, but never can figure out why he does the things he does. I desperately want to know more about this guy! I keep having to remind myself this is only the first book of a series. I’m sure answers will come. But but but I WANTS TO KNOW MORE.


There were a few others that played key roles in the story, but that may be getting into spoilery territory. So I’ll just say, all the characters were deep and complex and human. The relationships between each of them had such depth as well.


I JUST REALLY LOVED THESE BABIES.



I felt like the plot started out a smidge on the slow side, but it did pick up. Overall though, the plot was pretty simplistic. Nothing mind-blowing. BUT. I felt like the real focus of the plot wasn’t on the action, but on Kat’s inner turmoil. On her struggle to break away from a life she doesn’t want and find answers about her past.


With that said, there were still plenty of fun happenings. I was super intrigued by an assassins academy. And later on we get tangled into some strife between the different territories of the world.



I think my biggest complaint was the vagueness of how the government and things worked. The main point of the story is that Kat is forced into this assassins academy, and how the government is trying to take over everything. But…I was super confused how the government type stuff worked and how the academy functioned. There was also a ton of stuff about Kat’s past that never got explained at all. Every time it looked like we were about to get answers, the scene cut off or the characters were interrupted or something. I would have liked a whole lot more explanations and descriptions of things.


But, again, this is the first book of a series, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. It was a good setup to a much bigger story ahead—a great introduction to the characters, leaving me aching for more time spent with them and desperate for more answers. As any first book should be!

 

Content Cautions


Really…nothing! There were definitely some deaths, but they were never described in great, gory detail. There was also not a stitch of language and basically no romance (…yet *cough, cough, cough*). It was a refreshingly clean read!

 

Conclusion


If you enjoy standard, medieval fantasy with good, down-to-earth characters this is the one for you! The world and plot were pretty straightforward and simplistic, but that just made for a quick, comfortable, clean read.


I cannot wait for book 2!



What think ye, O Readers? Does the idea of an assassins academy intrigue you? Have you read The Assassin’s Daughter? Or ARE you going to?? (Because you should.)

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