Monday, June 27, 2016

Beautiful People - Marigold {June 2016}

Beautiful People tiiiime! And oooh, Sky and Cait have cooked up something special. This month we get to answer questions about our character’s CHILDHOOD. How fun is that? Although, as I thought about who to choose, I realized half my characters’ childhoods are apparently spoilers?? Not even sure how that works. BUT I finally settled on someone who’d probably be harmless.

Since I’m still very much deep within edits of Burning Thorns, I’m mostly doing BP posts for those characters. Today I shall be doing Rose’s (my female protagonist) sister Marigold.

Marigold is the middle of the three sisters—Anya, Marigold, and Rose. The best word I could use to describe Marigold is: Bratty. She has serious “middle child syndrome” in that she thinks everyone ignores her, and spends all her time vying for attention. Fun stuff, fun stuff!

Somewhere along the way, she stole my heart even though she’s such an ignorant, annoying little thing. FICTIONAL CHARACTERS, GUYS. They do these things to us!

Marigold being Marigold, she decided it’d be much more fun for everyone if she answered these questions for herself. And I relented because I’m a pushover.

"You're a child!" [Marigold said.]

Wiping a tear from his eye, [Larke] gasped for breath. "And you're such an amusing little pet."

She had a long response to that, a response that included much shrieking and foot stamping, and continued on for the rest of their hike. At least it kept her occupied.

Her seemingly never-ending well of words did actually fade as the smooth, mossy ground underfoot turned to ash. The steady footfalls behind him hesitated and he turned to find his pet looking ahead, the before redness in her cheeks now drained.

"It's big," she said.

He followed her line of sight to the castle tucked between the trees before them. "Unlike you humans, we fae aren't small minded."

"No, just bigheaded." And the fiery spirit returned. Good, she'd need it.

~ Marigold ~

1. What is their first childhood memory?
I vaguely remember walking through town with Mother and Anya and wandering off and getting lost. I hid in some alleyway for probably hours before Mother found me. Well, Anya declared it wasn’t even quite an hour but it felt like hours. Mother had said it felt like hours to her too, and she hoped she never lost me again. . .

2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences?
Rose and I used to love playing in the gardens and making flower crowns for each other. Though the best times were when Mother joined us. She’d even sometimes pull us out of bed in the middle of the night to catch fireflies and pretend they were fairies. Of course, such things are childish now. I outgrew Rose and all our silly games years ago.

Mother died when I was ten-years-old. I dare you to come up with a worse experience than that. Mother was the only one who ever paid me any attention. Everyone changed after she left. Everything changed and. . .

Actually, never mind. Can we go to the next question now?

3. What was their childhood home like?
BORing. Father was always busy and Anya followed him around and claimed games were for children. Which they are, of course. But often Mother was busy too, and Rose would hide somewhere to read or run off and play games with other children below our status. I didn’t want to play with them. And no one else would pay me any attention. So I had to entertain myself. There was never anything to do.

4. What’s something that scared them as child?
I don’t think that’s any of your business.

(*rolls eyes* I’ll answer this one for her. She was terrified of being unloved and unwanted. Her biggest fear was of her parents up and deciding they had no use for her and sending her away. She’s since learned that thought was absurd, but she still very much fears not being wanted and. . .doesn’t always go about fighting those fears the right way.)

5. Who did they look up to most?
When I was a child, I always looked up to Mother. Though Anya says Mother was too frivolous and never took anything seriously. I guess she’s right. I see now I should have spent more time in my studies like Anya and learning from Father than out playing with Mother and Rose.

6. Favorite and least favorite childhood foods?
Least favorite? Turnips! I refuse to eat turnips in any form or fashion. Also artichokes. UGH.

My favorite is definitely chicken. Especially when it’s extra salted and covered in carrots and potatoes. Meats are always my favorite parts of meals. Although Anya says that isn’t very ladylike. Hmph. I don’t care. I’m not going to spend all my life just eating greens and fruit. What’s the fun in that?

7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?
I’d spend less time playing Rose’s silly games and more time proving to Father I‘m perfectly capable and can be just as useful as Anya.

I’d also convince Mother to not go to Mysira where she contracted that stupid disease that took her life.

8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
I don’t know! I just. . .was.

(Okay, I’ll take over this question as well. Marigold has a mischievous streak. She often caused trouble, mostly just to get people’s attention. She could be quite the wild-child and as stubborn as a rock. Though her Mother and Rose were often good influences on her and kept her under control, and she could be a lot of fun when in the right mood. When she got a bit older, she started really looking up to Anya and stopped her “childish ways” to be more like her regal older sister. She took on a very superior attitude. Though neediness still very much controlled her attitude.)

9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?
Father was always too busy to pay me much mind, and Anya thought she was too old for me and ignored me most of the time. Mother was really the only one who cared about me. At least she wanted me. I guess Rose and I used to have fun together. . . Not that that matters anymore of course. Rose is too childish. Once I matured, Anya and I became much closer.

10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
I always wanted to be something great. Like a great ruler or. . .anything really.
Want to know what I am now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Life is completely unfair.

Well, there we go. I guess it could have gone worse. XD
Do you have any “bratty” characters? (Hey, at least they’re
good for some fun character growth, am I right?) ALSO.
Have you joined in Beautiful People this month???

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fantasy: To Infinity and Beyond

Last week I listed 7 elements that always worm themselves into my novels. The most prominent one was fantasy.

Pretty much anyone who even sort of knows me knows I’m a “fantasy writer”. I’ve been proudly wearing that label since I was 10 years old, after first seeing the Fellowship of the Ring movie and immediately pouring my life into writing one fantasy novel after the next. But what my little 10-year-old self didn’t know was that title of “fantasy writer” held so, so much to it.

Back in the day, “fantasy” to me meant Lord of the Rings. Or such things like it. Which is odd, because long before I even knew what LotR was, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland and all things fairytales were my true loves (okay, they still absolutely are). But, in my mind, Lord of the Rings was true fantasy.

Now, J.R.R. Tolkien isn’t called the father of fantasy for no reason. To me, he is the ULTIMATE fantasy writer and will forever be my hero. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are LIFE. There’s no doubt about it.

But the thing is, I used to limit myself. Over the years, I’ve discovered something wonderful and exciting.

Fantasy is infinite.

Fantasy means much, much, much more than medieval worlds and elves. Sometimes the thought can be overwhelming. But it’s overwhelming like the sky is overwhelming—it’s massive, larger than life, but so full of unending wonder we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Fantasy can be in any world, real or not real, any time, have anything. You want to write a Victorian England novel with man-eating fairies? Go for it! How about cowboys that ride dragons instead of horses? What if the lost city of Atlantis decided to stop being lost and merpeople took reign of the ocean? It just goes on and on and on. You can have stories with myths and legends and made up worlds and creatures and mixes of all the above.

It never, ever, ever ends. Your fantasy novels go as far as your imagination.

Some examples of very unique fantasy books include:

  • The Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire Series by Bryan Davis: Dragons turned human in modern day times with touches of Arthurian Legend and all manner of convoluted plots? YES PLEASE.
  • The DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul: These stories immerse you deeply in a fantastical world of dragons and wonderfully odd characters and absurd plots. What I love about this series is the worldbuilding. The world feels so alive, from the dozens of made-up creatures down to the food described. Mrs. Paul throws you right into her deliciously fun world.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll: Do I even need to explain this one? This is the epitome of delightfully bizarre fantasy.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan: Greek mythology in modern times with a completely humorous flavor. Fun stuff, guys, fun stuff!
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer: Another one set in modern times. This one with fairies and other fantasy creatures living secretly underground. But not just that, these are fantasy creatures who can use technology. Not my favorite book, but the concept is fantastic!
  • Basically anything by Diana Wynne Jones as far as I’m aware. Her specialty is utterly unique (and I mean unique) fantasy.
  • There’s also books that aren’t heavy fantasy, but may have some weird, fantasy-like touches. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart come to mind.

And that’s barely scratching the surface!

The point is, you can do whatever you like with fantasy. Time travel, world hopping, Greek myths, talking furniture, twists on fairytales, fire-breathing penguins. ANYTHING. IT NEVER ENDS, GUYS.

But don’t get me wrong here. I’m not telling you to go write some completely bizarro story if that’s not your thing, or to stop making Middle Earth-type worlds. PLEASE DON’T. Why do you think there’s so much of it? PEOPLE LIKE IT. Me included. High fantasy will forever be my first love. And you can still absolutely make unique tales in a high fantasy novel! I mean, Lord of the Rings was so big and complex and mind-boggling.

Just don’t be like me and get confused in thinking Lord of the Rings is the only type of fantasy there is. It was one of the first, and from it sprouted so very, very many glorious tales. And from those more evolved. Now fantasy is what you make it. Is that not a deliciously exciting thought?

And that’s why I love fantasy. It’s infinite.

I never, ever run out of plot ideas. In fact, I have the opposite problem. My mind is overrun with too many plot bunnies! (But that’s a topic for another time.) It’s impossible for me to get bored writing fantasy because every book I write (nowadays that is, we won’t talk about when I was little) is so different from the last, even though they all can be classified as “fantasy”. I absolutely, completely, and totally LOVE creating plots centered around fantastical elements. Whether it be dragons (obviously) or time travel or wars against made-up races or fairytales or twists on legends. I can’t stop creating! It crowds my mind 24/7. And I love it.

This isn’t to say other genres aren’t infinite. That’s what I love about writing so much, it’s ALL infinite. There’s so much you can do with every single genre. But since I’ve been writing fantasy for the past 14 years, I have a lot more to say about it. XD

But sheesh, Christine, what are you even getting at here? It is this: You don’t have to limit yourself. If you love medieval worlds full of elves and dwarves, go write that thing. If you want to write about space unicorns ending the villainy of space pirates. DO IT. Your imagination is the limit.

Now that’s a pretty wide limitation.

Do you agree with me? Is fantasy infinite? What type of
fantasy story do you like best? AND I MUST KNOW.
What’s the most unique fantasy book you’ve ever read?

P.S. After writing this I totally and completely forgot there’s an epic fantasy thing going on in the blogsphere starting TODAY. What a perfect coincidence! I did not plan this. o.o
DJ Edwardson and Jenelle Schmidt are hosting The Silmarillion Awards—a “fantasy awards” type thing where YOU get to vote for your favorite fantasy characters and such in a bunch of different categories. It’ll be taking place for the next month so do check out their blogs for all the details and links. It’s gonna be awesome!

Monday, June 13, 2016

7 Elements I Love to Write

Today I’m joining in with a linkup hosted by Sky @ Further Up and Further In and Ashley @ Ashley Aspires called A Novel Idea. This is a weekly linkup to help writers stay inspired and look deeper into their writing life. You can learn more about it here or here. I won’t be joining in every week since, well, I only post once a week. Heh. But I really liked this week’s prompt. It got me thinking. I love questions that make me think.

This week’s prompt is:

Tell us about your writing style/what you like to write.

The moment I read that I thought, “What do I like to write about?” Back in the day, I would have loudly proclaimed MEDIEVAL FANTASY without a moment’s hesitation. But for the past few years I’ve branched out, I’ve tried different things, I’ve discovered different styles I like and don’t like. I by no means write one particular genre anymore. My stories are all over the place. From medieval fantasy, to contemporary fantasy, to fairytale retellings, to a dystopian novel, a King Arthur/Robin Hood mashup thingamajig, all the way to a bizarre steampunk time travel novel. With a dozen more ridiculously hard to describe stories constantly crowding my thoughts.

I had to ask myself, do I actually have a specific style? DO I EVEN KNOW WHAT I’M DOING?

Probably not.

BUT. I think I have started to hone in on my author’s voice in the past two or so years. Really, Burning Thorns and my last two NaNoWriMo novels were the first three stories where I began to improve vastly on my writing and discovering what I like to write about and how I like to write.

So the real question I asked myself was, if someone were to read multiple stories of mine, would they find any reoccurring themes, despite the varying genres? The answer is: ABSOLUTELY!


“But,” you’re thinking, “you just said you branched out of fantasy!” No, no, no. NEVER. I said I branched out from your standard issue medieval fantasy. But if there’s one thing I can be sure of (ha! okay, I’m never sure of anything about myself), it’s that my stories will ALWAYS have some sort of fantastical element to them. Whenever I even try to come up with a story without something fantasy-esque in it, dragons and unicorns attack my brain. Such as the time I was considering a contemporary mystery, Sherlock Holmes-y sort of thing, and then my brain was like BUT LET’S ADD MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES. There’s just no getting around it. Not that I’m complaining. Fantasy is my favorite thing of ever, medieval fantasy still being highest on the list. Rest assured I will always come back to my beloved medieval fantasy no matter how much I branch out. I’ve never been a history nut, so writing historical fiction for me is a big no. And I can count on one hand how many contemporary novels I’ve read. (No joke.) I get enough of real life in, well, real life. Writing is my escape. I SHALL WRITE FANTASY FOREVER AND A DAY. Whether it be medieval fantasy, contemporary fantasy, completely different worlds—IT’S ALL GOOD. Which brings us to. . .


A few years back I wrote a steampunk time travel story. The world was supposed to be your average world, much like ours, but with a steampunk flavor. Next thing I knew THERE WAS A BABY DRAGON IN IT. Who just took over the show and played a prominent part in the story! I tried to write a story without dragons, I DID. But it was futile. Basically, if you read a story by me, expect dragons in some form or fashion. They come from nowhere. They come from everywhere. I DON’T EVEN KNOW. Just dragons. DRAGONS EVERYWHERE. Am I complaining? Hahahahaha. . .NO. Dragons are LIFE, and I refuse to stop writing about them. *gathers up all the dragons and runs away with them*


Ah, yesh. Antiheroes. Those precious babies who never can decide if they’re good or bad or WHAT. I mean, hello? DECISIONS ARE HARD. But seriously. They’re my absolute favorite type of character to write about, and pop up all over my pages. Long before I even knew what an antihero was. I was just thinking the other day about my first antihero that appeared back when I was a little baby of 16. He immediately became my favorite character of EVER back then and I had nooo clue why! WELL NOW I DO. Antiheroes are amazing and complex and interesting and can make the very BEST redemption stories. Not to mention SO FUN TO WRITE. Mine tend to start out as full-out villains, then bump-up to antihero status, then slooowly fight that “anti” in their title and became actual heroes in the end. It’s my favorite FAVORITE type of character-arc to write and you can sure bet you’ll find it in over half of my stories. NO REGRETS.


I’m pretty sure this one has come into play in every novel I’ve ever written. Somehow I can’t seem to stop penning tales of light triumphing over darkness. Even in stories I had absolutely NO intention of doing that with, it just bled through. Sometimes it’s more subtle, sometimes it’s the prominent feature of the story, but it’s always there. Because isn’t that why we’re here? To soak in God’s light and reflect it back to this dark world. How can I not tell stories of light overcoming darkness?


Only once in my entire life have I ever written a first person story. To be truthful, until just a couple of years ago, I hated first person with a passion. I can’t even tell you WHY. All I know is every time I picked up a novel and found it was in first person I groaned internally. Then, horror of horrors, I actually *le gasp* WROTE MY OWN FIRST PERSON NOVEL. And, worse yet, I. . .liked it. O_O Ever since, I’ve had no problem with reading first person books. There’s a level of intimacy with the character there that third person is sometimes missing. BUT. I’m still a firm lover of third person, and have no doubt 90% of my novels will be just that. I tend to have multiple points-of-view and don’t enjoy the limitation of first person in that sense. And novels that have multiple POVs but are all in first person hurt my poor brain for some reason. Now, I am all completely and firmly for intimate third person, where you’re still in one character’s head at a time. I want to feel like I AM the character. Thus all my novels very much stick to the intimate third person POV. It’s my fave.


Who doesn’t love a good story about best friends going through mortal peril together and forming deep bonds. LET’S JUST SAVE THE WORLD AND BE BESTIES OKAY? I love it! I love writing about it! I actually love ALL types of character bonds—friendships, families, romance. But the sad truth is, my earlier writings didn’t have many family relationships. I’m trying to fix that! I don’t know what was wrong with me! Families are AWESOME. I also didn’t write too much romance. Really, my NaNoWriMo 2013 novel, More Green than Envy, was my first story featuring a fair amount of romance (and even then it was still just a little subplot), and Burning Thorns is the first novel with heavy romance in it (but it is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it kinda can’t be helped). But friendships now, they’ve been in my novels since the beginning of time! Buddy stories are so FUN. And I especially love writing about two people who at first don’t like each other then became the BESTEST FRIENDS OF EVER. Like a hero and antihero. *wriggles eyebrows* Can there be anything more epic? I THINK NOT. What’s crazy is, Burning Thorns is my first novel with a sad lack of friendship. o.o There’s a lot of family and romance, but where are the best friends? It’s WEIRD. Because I’ve never written a story without a ton of friendship. I JUST WANT ALL THE BESTIES.


Or perhaps I should say satisfying endings. Because my novels may very well traumatize you and characters may die and horrible things may happen. BUT, I can’t, physically CAN’T, leave a novel of mine on a sad note. I’m not into open endings or the whole everybody-dies-the-end type of finale. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to leave my characters or readers in such a shape. I want my readers to finish the book with a full heart and smile on their face. I want them to be fulfilled. Not empty and depressed and feel like they wasted their time. So yes, I shall write my happy endings without shame!

I probably have dozens of more things that all come into play in my novels, but those are the main themes that strike me.

As for my style or “author’s voice”, well, is it possible to even describe one’s author voice? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. It just is. And, like I said, mine has only really started to come to me in the last three or so novels I wrote. It takes a long time to grasp your author’s voice, and it may even change from book to book. It takes practice and lots of playing around to get it right. For me, I’m not overly flowery like, say, L.M. Montgomery. Her amount of gorgeous writing is way beyond my wee brain’s capability. But I’m not as straight-forward and fast-paced as Suzanne Collins. I do enjoy writing in a bit of prose, but I also don’t want to confuse my readers with too much flowery talk. I want my stories to be easy reads with just a touch of beauty. . .if that makes any sense at all.

Let’s be real here. I really just write whatever story I feel like at the time and hope for the best! Because I’m professional like that.

WELL. That is plenty about me and my writing. What are a couple
of specific things that show up again and again in YOUR stories?
Do we share any? What’s your absolute FAVORITE thing
to write about?? DOES IT INVOLVE DRAGONS?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Paper Crowns Book Review

Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae.

Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

Amazon | GoodReads | Author's Blog


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



I’m part of an amazing writing group of Mirriam Neal’s and had the honor of reading Paper Crowns back in its earlier stages before publication. I only dreamed of it being released to the world, because everyone needed to read it. When Mirriam announced it was going to be published, well, squealing and flailing may have ensued. Receiving an actual, physical copy of this story I had so fallen in love with was a dream come true. I immediately devoured it two days after receiving it, and it was just as enchanting as I remembered, perhaps even more so.

This book is so photogenic! DAT COVER. <3

What I love about Mirriam’s writing is her ability to seamlessly change her style to suit whatever book she’s creating at the time. Normally her stories are on the darker, grittier side, but occasionally she’ll take a break to write something lighter. Thus Paper Crowns was born.

This is not a deep book. It’s only 191 pages and very simplistic, but that’s the charm of it. This is a fairytale through and through, with an enchanting world, magical beings, humorous mishaps, and beautifully simple but fluent writing that sweeps you away right into the whimsy of it all. Then there’s Mirriam’s trademark loveable characters who warms your heart like a winter’s fire.

We’ve got. . .

Hal: The sarcastic, shapeshifting blue cat. Do I even need to say more?

Ginny: Our heroine who can make origami come alive. Is this not the coolest ability EVER??

Salazar: A fire elemental who talks in ALL CAPS. I think that explains his character well enough. He’s a riot. XD

Azrael: Just. . .Azrael. If nothing else, read this book for Azrael. He’s a “wysling”, similar to what we would call a wizard, who is always reluctant to help. But you know, deep down, he cares. Maybe.

Asterope: Another wysling who’s much more willing to help than Azrael and nice and fun and precious.


What really strikes me in this story is the. . .wistfulness of it all. Though most of it takes place in a wintry land of faerie, the first bits are in our world, but a more enchanting version of our world. Mirriam knows how to make life seem so beautiful, to make you see the delight in small things. The entire beginning is filled with coffee and origami and the smell of leather journals and double-decker buses and a cottage in the woods. This tale makes me feel so refreshed. Like all the bad and ugly in our world has been erased, leaving only the simple beauty of life. It makes me appreciate the little things and find joy in it all.

Once we leave our world behind and enter the land of the faerie, the story only gets more beautiful. Full of snow and magic and curious people. It’s a beautiful story all around. But it’s also funny. I adore Mirriam’s humor. The character interactions are so snappy and hilarious, and the ridiculous mishaps had me grinning all the way through.

This story is practically perfect. Really the only complaint I have is some typos, but I think that’s currently being fixed, so I suspect it’s only the early printings of the book that will have those.

The other thing is I wish there was more. Like I said, it’s a very short, simple book. But, really, that’s the charm in it. As much as I’d like a 500 page monster of this world and characters because I love them that much, it wouldn’t be the same. This is the type of book meant to be read in the sun on a spring day or curled up next to the fireplace. I think it’s very purpose is merely a breath of fresh air. It’s not deep or long or complicated. It’s a simple fairytale—enchanting and beautiful. And that’s just right.

But, not to fear, there are more books on the way! I’ve actually read the sequel, Paper Hearts, and love it even more than Paper Crowns. Which is saying something, let me tell you. I so very, very hope Paper Hearts will be out to the public in the near future!

Nothing really. Like I said, this is a light read. The violence is to a minimum and the content perfectly clean. There is magic though. People called wyslings are much like wizards, as I said. It didn’t bother me, it’s so light and fairytale-like, but I know a lot of people don’t do magic so I wanted to let everyone know.

I’d recommend this book to the young and old. I could easily see 10-year-olds very much enjoying it, but the heroine is 18 herself, so it’s got a slight YA feel as well.


Ahem. Okay, okay. It may not be everyone’s type of story. But if you enjoy light, whimsical fairytales, this one is absolutely for you! Deep, complicated books are my favorite, but I think we all sometimes need those little breaths of sunshine. Paper Crowns is just that.

So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a copy and read it. Yes, right now. Shoo. I’m not kidding. Why are you still here? Go, go, go!

Without a doubt this one gets a. . .

5 out of 5 stars

SO. Are you going to read this now? (Obviously.) Do you think
we could all use a lighter read from time to time? What do you
think of whimsical fairytales? (I ADORE them to my very core.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...