Friday, June 14, 2019

On the Topic of Fairytale Retellings


One thing fairytale retelling enthusiasts fight over more than anything else is adherence to the original fairytale. What makes this retelling good? What makes this one bad? Were enough of the original elements included to really classify the story as a retelling?

I am a self-declared fairytale retelling snob. And unashamed of that. The fantastical stories of the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christen Anderson and Charles Perrault and Andrew Lang and others have captured our attention since they first began appearing in print. Tales of beautiful princesses, brave knights and princes, mythical creatures, and magical beings enchant us just as much now as they did then.

Today's readers, however, are clamoring for more. More than just the well-known, well-loved fairytale. They want clever twists and fantastical elements and great characters to fall in love with all over again.

But why? Why are retellings growing so popular in today's modern age? It's because we're curious and demanding and unsatisfied. Many of the original fairytales included unrealistic, mind-bending characters and plot twists -- things that went beyond just a simple suspension of disbelief. There are also enough holes in the plot to make a golf course jealous. Fairytales, in their current state, are ripe for retelling.

And so we retell them. But we don't always retell them WELL. Or retell them at all, really.

(Ahead, some spoilers for the books and films I bring up. You have been warned.)

For example, I do not consider Melanie Dickerson's The Orphan's Wish to be a great Aladdin retelling. It was a fun story, pretty cliche IMHO for Dickerson (and thus predictable), but it failed in many of the original Aladdin elements.

Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp is probably the most famous story from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights or The Arabian Nights. In one version of the tale, Aladdin is a poor, boy from the streets who lives with his mother. His sorcerer "uncle" shows up to ask Aladdin to help him get the genie's lamp from the magical cave -- which throws Aladdin into his own adventures with the lamp and winning the hand of the princess.

Melanie Dickerson's Aladdin, however, seems to resemble that story merely only in name. Aladdin is a poor boy who meets and falls in love with the duke's daughter at a young age. Then he goes off to make a name and fortune for himself, to become someone worthy of marrying the daughter. He finds employment for a friendly man and soon becomes a King Midas of sorts when his business ventures earn him the reputation of being able to turn whatever he touches into gold. The daughter, meanwhile, gets kidnapped (*sarcastic* surprise, surprise) and turns into a Swan Princess character where everyone believes her dead except her knight in shining armor.

Since Dickerson's retellings are mainly historical, I completely understand why she doesn't have the magical lamp and genie. However, I think she really didn't try to incorporate any of the original tale's elements in her story -- except the very obvious theft of Abu from Disney's 1992 film retelling. There's no lamp, no single object that anyone fights over, no struggle for political power, no main antagonist to stand against Aladdin as the sorcerer did, etc. Other than the names, there's very little in Dickerson's story for me to label it a true retelling of Aladdin.

On the contrary, Ella Enchanted has long been upheld as a wonderful Cinderella retelling. Why? Because Gail Carson Levine kept many of the wonderful elements that we all love about Cinderella -- more than just the main character's name. Her father falls on hard times and, after the death of his beloved wife, marries again. Ella gets two horrid stepsisters. However, she has a fairy godmother who steps in to help when everything seems bleak. Ella goes to the ball, falls in love with the prince, loses her shoe, and then lives happily ever after.

Ella Enchanted mixes some of those elements up, as in when they happen in the story, or how they happen. And Levine adds a delicious twist -- Ella has the curse of obedience. This presents a powerful ending to the tale when she must choose whether or not to marry her beloved prince and subject the both of them to someone else's controlling the throne through her.

That, my friends, is what a good fairytale retelling does. It retells the story. The description is literally in the name. It doesn't bleed everything we love about the original tale out of the story, but finds a new way to present things, to retell things.

And while I'm on the topic, I have a soap box I need to stand on. The Disney film adaptations, however classic, are also retellings. They're adapted from the original tale. They're not the original tale itself. So, please, please, please do NOT take Disney as the standard. Disney does a good job with including many of the original fairytale elements while still including a twist on the story. For example, Rapunzel has a REASON for having her long hair (it has magical healing powers that vanish when it's cut). The Little Mermaid actually gets a happy ending after a showdown with the sea witch.


Disney is not the original. Disney is a reteller. I'm not against Disney elements in a fairytale retelling (anyone who's read The Rose and the Balloon knows I've made my own nods to Disney), but Disney should not be the only thing from which you draw inspiration as you're crafting a retelling. Don't do what too many people do and just give us a watered-down version of Disney's retelling. Because those stories are out there. I've read a good number of them and have been sorely disappointed.

Aladdin has a lamp. Cinderella goes to the ball. The Little Mermaid loses her voice in exchange for legs. Beauty is trapped in the Beast's castle after trading places with her father. The Goose Girl is forced to switch identities with a servant. Snow White "dies" while eating an apple. Little Red Riding Hood wears a red cape and encounters a wolf. These elements alone do not create the fairytale. They are just the beginning of the fairytale, an element that introduces us to the rest of the story. If the original elements cease to be there, that story then ceases to be a retelling. 

A retelling RETELLS. If it doesn't retell, then it's just another story. If it steals everything from Disney, that's plagiarism.

I realize there will be people who disagree with me on this. And I'm okay with that. But I will stand firm on my belief that a good fairytale retelling MUST adhere to the original tale in more than just the main character's name. A good retelling takes the original elements and finds a new way to interpret and present them.

God bless!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Why HTTYD is the Greatest of All Time

(Or The Chapter in Which I Gush About My Favorite Animated Films)

I realize the hype for Hidden World is dying down since it's been out for quite a few months now; however, since I just saw it this week, my hype is activated fiercely all over again. Thus, this post.


The HTTYD films have held a special spot in my life since their beginning. I remember watching the first one with my sisters and feeling incredibly impressed as a writer by the storyline and characters. When we were dating, everyone joked about how Jed and I are just like Hiccup and Astrid, and so my husband sang Valka and Stoick's song (For the Dancing and the Dreaming) to me in his proposal.

I've grown up with these movies. When Hiccup was a boy and figuring out his spot in Berk among dragon-fighting vikings, I was young and trying to figure out what God wanted me to do with my life. When he had grown and matured and was off facing new frontiers and dangers, I was growing and facing new challenges with college and new relationships.

Now, I'm forced to admit the end of a fantastic film trilogy, and I couldn't be more emotionally... well, everything.

But what was it about this third film, about this whole trilogy, that spoke to me (to millions of people, honestly), and thus concluded IMHO the greatest animated film trilogy of all time?

Let's list the reasons, shall we?

(THE UNHOLY OFFSPRING OF LIGHTNING AND DEATH ITSELF -- SPOILERS AHEAD)

1. Hiccup


Yes, he's the cliche and loved stereotype of the underdog, and we've loved rooting for the underdog for generations. Think of Spiderman, Frodo, Rocky, Cinderella, Po the Kung Fu Panda... etc. etc. etc. We love rooting for the character who seems least likely to succeed.

Hiccup doesn't fit in with his world of vikings who live to kill dragons. His compassion singles him out as the only viking who wouldn't kill a dragon. Underdog heroes are supposed to go through hard times and come out on the other side changed and wiser. And Hiccup follows this pattern -- except for one notable difference. HE LOSES HIS LEG.

We're in a viking story, yes. It is common for vikings to lose limbs in battle. But what other story allows its hero to end the tale physically maimed? Honestly, this was the one thing that impressed me so much about the first film. Hiccup doesn't walk away from his big battle unscathed. That is incredibly daring as a storyteller. Because most fans don't forgive you for hurting their precious cinnamon roll. I mean, even Marvel gave Thor back his eye and didn't condemn him to wearing an eye patch (like Fury and Odin) for the rest of his life.

But Hiccup proves to us that it's not bad to live a life like that, missing a limb. He goes on to do all sorts of amazing things, and we at times forget that he only has one leg. People with physical disabilities may have to do things differently, but that doesn't make them different or inept. Hiccup saves the dragons and takes care of an entire village, and those aren't small accomplishments.

One of my absolute favorite scenes in the films is at the end of the first film, when Hiccup and Toothless walk to the door together and Toothless's maimed tail sweeps in front of Hiccup's maimed leg; until that point, Hiccup had been helping Toothless get around with his injured tail. Now, Toothless has the chance to help Hiccup in the same way. Like dragon, like human -- best friends til the end, they both have the same injury and are dependent on one another.

Which brings me encroaching into my next point...

~*~

2. Hiccup and Toothless


Every good story NEEDS irreplaceable friendships like this. I mean, have you SEEN them interact? Toothless is a number of things to Hiccup; basically, his dog and best friend, but also his conscience at times, and his wingman (no pun intended).

I don't think I need to ultra-belabor this point, since anyone who's seen the films knows how Toothless and Hiccup are the bestest of buddies. They've got each others' backs, wrestle and have the best of times together, and are just all-around adorable together.

I cried when I first saw the scene when Hiccup chooses to send the dragons away. Toothless had been such a big part of his life, the character that introduced the biggest turning point in Hiccup's life, the reason why Hiccup first began trying to change people's minds about dragons. Following their journey together just made it more emotionally devastating when Hiccup chooses to let him go. He knows the decision is in the dragons' best interest, but it's still hard to send your best friend away.


And that scene when Hiccup chooses to sacrifice himself so that the Light Fury can save Toothless? *cue tears* I'm a mess.

~*~

3. Hiccup and Astrid


We start off with the cliche of the underdog crushing on the beautiful heroine who's brave, talented, and popular. But then Hiccup's place as chief's son and dragon tamer catapults him into a big place in Berk, and he faces bigger challenges than just how to woo his girl.

After the first film, we get to see Hiccup and Astrid working together, fighting for the same goals. I was so afraid that the filmmakers would fall into the easy, cliched trap of making them have a stupid fight and at angst for the majority of the second and third films. Yes, they're both stubborn, but you can have a great stubborn couple who doesn't fight about stupid things just for dramatic storytelling purposes. GET OVER IT AND GET CREATIVE. Couples can have problems with more than just lovers' spats. THANK YOU.

Also, they don't stay a teenaged couple. This is one of the things I love so much about them, honestly. In the third film, Gobber (among others) is not so subtly hinting that they need to get married. Both Hiccup and Astrid know that they're going to get married one day, but they both agree they're currently not ready for it. But that doesn't put a damper on their relationship. They don't fight about it; they don't avoid it in conversation and make things awkward. They come to an easy, mutual agreement. Then, once they've saved the dragons and their village, they both know they've matured and they're ready for that next step. For them, marriage was a big deal. It wasn't something they wanted to jump into lightly. It was so nice to see a relationship like theirs mature into what it did.

Great couples work together, and that's exactly what Hiccup and Astrid do.

AND THEIR KIDS.


Their kids are adorable, and I think it broke every one of my heartstrings to see the kids getting to share rides with their parents and the dragons at the end of the trilogy. After so much, it was so satisfying to see Hiccup introduce his children to his best friend.

~*~

4. Astrid


This is a cliche that drives me batty in fiction and film ALL THE TIME. A heroine often has spunk and guts UNTIL her man wins her heart, and then she becomes a whiny, crying, helpless, defenseless wimp who relies on her man for everything and gives him emotional pain to boot. Astrid doesn't do any of that. And for that, I love her.

I'll admit: I really didn't care for Astrid so much in the first film. It felt like Dreamworks was trying to impress too much of the whole strong-feminist vibe (which I'm not fond of), and I was afraid honestly of what they might do to her character. Too often (and this is another cliche I hate), strong feminist characters clash with their love interests, so that most of the story becomes their butting heads over every decision.

Astrid encourages Hiccup, follows him when he runs from a hard conversation with his dad, and supports his decisions even when they seem crazy. When he goes out to confront Drago, Astrid is right there with him. In the third film, she impressed me muchly as she stepped into the role of really becoming Hiccup's partner. He tends to think less of himself when comparing himself to his father, and yet she reminds him he can still do the right thing. Even when she didn't believe that the Hidden World existed, she still chose to support him in moving the village of Berk to a new location. How many stubborn, modern heroines do you see doing that? She doesn't fight against him at all. She demands that the people of Berk listen to him before writing off his ideas as insane or unpractical.

And have you seen her in battle? She's handy with an axe as we're shown in the first film, but by the third film, she's hefting around swords and other weapons with ease. She isn't a damsel in distress, but a perfect companion to Hiccup who can take care of herself, take care of him, but also step down when he needs the spotlight.

Astrid is Hiccup's friend, confidante, encourager... really, the perfect better half to complete him. And Hiccup, in many ways, completes her.

~*~

5. Grimmel


I had my doubts about Grimmel, I'll admit. We've struggled against the Red Death (or Green Death, if you go by John Powell), and against Drago, the dragon seducer and slayer. There have been internal and external battles, fights on a small and large scale. We needed something big, something different, for the last film, and the filmmakers gave us Grimmel.

Grimmel is a hunter; he's smart, he likes getting into the mind of his prey. He knows dragons inside and out, and he enjoys killing them. He's very much like Drago, but not quite. While Drago was driven by personal fury to revenge his lost arm and seize control by whatever means necessary, Grimmel didn't have that kind of drive. He kept to the hunt just for the love of it. Dragons had ceased to be actual living creatures to him; they were merely tools and things to be slain at will. And, when people got in his way, they became similar things. He wasn't above double-crossing people to get what he wanted.

However, this is the real reason why I think Grimmel is a better villain than Drago. Personal theory alert. When talking to Hiccup about his past, Grimmel says when he was a boy he came across a night fury sleeping in the woods. And he killed it. The fame that kill gave him drove him to hunt down every night fury he could, resulting in the near-extinction of that dragon. Think about it. His origin story is the same as Hiccup's -- except for the result. Where Hiccup showed compassion and set Toothless free, Grimmel drove his knife home and triumphed over the dead night fury. Grimmel was what Hiccup would have become if he had killed Toothless. MIND BLOWN.

Hiccup wanted acceptance from his father and the rest of the vikings. So, probably, did Grimmel. His physical stature is not that different from Hiccup's; they're both fairly skinny and wiry with not-so-scary features. It could be that Grimmel was ridiculed as a child, didn't fit in with the rest of the viking teens, just as Hiccup had been. It was by killing the night fury that he finally found the acceptance he craved. If Hiccup had killed Toothless, he would have gotten the same fame in Berk. He would have then believed that his acceptance depended on the number of dragon heads he brought back to the village. In battling Grimmel, Hiccup had to battle against what he could have become.

And that, my friends, is my argument for why Grimmel is the best villain of the trilogy.

~*~

6. Dragons


Anyone who knows me knows I love dragons. We need more dragon stories in this world. And I really can't say any more to support this point.


Just dragons. 

~*~

I could go on and on about these films, and why I love them so much, but I think I should cut it off here before I get myself into writing a novel. There are great minor characters, amazing action sequences, too many quotable lines, etc. etc. etc. We could be here all day. The points I've listed above, though, are definitely the ones I feel most passionate about.

To be honest, I've not read the HTTYD books yet (or seen the TV series), so I do approach these films with a decent amount of bias. However, I do believe that this may be one great and rare exception when the movies were better than the books. *le gasp* Yes, I said it.

What do you think? Did you enjoy The Hidden World? What are some of your favorite moments/characters from the trilogy? Let me know in the comments below!

God bless!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

What Happened at Camp...

Camp NaNo, to be exact.

I began the month of April with grand plans to add a whopping 50K words onto The Twelfth Kingdom. Did I accomplish my goal?

Nope.


I didn't even come anywhere close. In the end, I wrote a whopping total of 15,052 words -- not even half of my original goal. I discovered this last camp that it is difficult to pen down time to write when you're a mom. Last November, it was easier to get my 50K for NaNo since my little girl was taking more naps and wasn't as mobile. NOW she's a year old (!!), getting into everything, and down to only two naps a day.

In addition to more parenting time, I also spent a great deal of April packing. My husband and I have been praying about moving for a couple months now, and the Lord has provided a place just across town that will work so  much better for our family! And it has central air! I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am about that in this southern heat. #truenortherngirl Getting ready to move took up a lot of time -- time that I had intended to spend writing.

And yet, oddly enough, I don't feel that I failed Camp NaNo.

For one thing, Camp NaNo is designed to be much more flexible than the official NaNo in November. It gives writers a chance to set their own goals and work at their own pace, rather than the set 1667 words every day regime. For some people (like it was for me last month), writing 50K in 30 days just isn't feasible. It's downright impossible. That's where Camp NaNo lends a helping hand by letting you pick your own goal, something that IS attainable.

I hadn't counted on a crazy month and having to pack up our house during Camp. And that's why I'm very thankful for the flexibility that month provides.

Additionally, I WROTE. It may not have been 50K, but I WROTE. And that's what writers do. Camp NaNo and NaNo official are meant to be months to help writers TO WRITE. The only way you can fail any NaNo is to not write at all. And for me, last month added another 15K onto TK. That's 15K I didn't have before. And that's 15K closer to the end of the story.

And to me, that's a win right there, folks.

Did you participate in Camp NaNo this year? How did the writing go for you? Let me know in the comments!

God bless!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Not an April Fool's Announcement or Two


I wanted to send off a quick announcement that since I'm participating in Camp NaNo this month, I won't be posting here on my blog until May. So, a mini hiatus, if you will.

For those of you interested in following my camp writing journey, I'll be posting updates on my Facebook author page. If you've got Facebook, please feel free to follow me there! I would be posting updates on my Instagram, but unfortunately, my tablet is down and I haven't any way to post there. Why wouldn't you be able to post to Instagram from a computer, for cat's sake? Anyway.

ALSO...


Mark your calendars because Spindle Dreams is getting closer to publication! 


It was my goal previously to have it out before camp, but yeah... that didn't happen. I've had some setbacks in cover design, but we're rolling now and I'm praying that I'll have a final cover to share by the end of the month, and shortly after that it'll be available to purchase from an Amazon near you!

*Note: I do testify that the above announcements are true, and not fabricated as a joke of any kind.* (Just in case anyone was curious.)

I'll see you all when I return! Anyone else out there participating in Camp NaNo?

God bless!

March 2019 Book Haul

Time for another book haul post!

This month actually turned out to be quite kleptomaniac-ish for me, since my husband and I were able to hit a couple of thrift stores on the weekends and I managed to save up my Amazon giftcards enough for a book order. I was so excited about that order, and kept track of each package as it shipped. My darling hubby went out in the rain to collect one of the packages from the mail box for me, just to make sure my book didn't get wet. Have I mentioned how much I absolutely love him? Because I do.

Anyway, let's get on to the books!


The Masterharper of Pern // Anne McCaffrey 

My husband has been a long-time fan of Anne McCaffrey, so we're on a quest right now to find all of her Pern books. I've only read the Harper Hall Trilogy at this point, but I'm looking forward to reading more about that world.

~*~

The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Seeing Stone // Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Not having full series really bugs me, but that's the biggest danger you face when you're addicted to second-hand books. I'm slowly fleshing out my Spiderwick Chronicles, but so far, I've only got the first two books. #oneday They're fun to read, though.

~*~

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook // Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

Not fiction, but this is a really fun one! I mean, with a title like that, how could you NOT get it?? Some of the scenarios are absolutely hilarious!

~*~

Little House in the Big Woods // Laura Ingalls Wilder

Would you believe my Little House collection has all but the first book? Not anymore. These were some of my favorite books growing up, and I'm looking forward to sharing this with my daughter one day. 

~*~

Bridge to Terabithia // Katherine Paterson

I remember watching the film version of this story years ago. I've never read the book. Figured it was as good a time as any. 

~*~

How to Train Your Dragon: How to Be a Pirate // Cressida Cowell 

I believe that this is a small example of when the movies were actually better than the books, but I've yet to actually read the books to solidify my belief. Besides, it's dragons. And what could be better than dragons? 

~*~

Medallion // Dawn L. Watkins

Another favorite childhood book. I actually had the great honor of having the author as my teacher for two classes while I was in college, and THAT was pretty amazing. I felt like I met a celebrity. IT WAS PRETTY COOL. 

~*~

Marlow and Shakespeare 

More Shakespeare collecting. And this is a book that will look really good just sitting out for display. You know what I mean. You collect those books, too. Don't deny it. 

~*~


~*~ 

Realm Walkers: One Realm Beyond // Donita K. Paul

And thus finishes my collection of all Mrs. Paul's published dragon novels. I'm still really bummed that she was never able to get the third book in this trilogy published. *sniff* But I'm going to enjoy all of this since it's out. 

~*~

The Kingdom Series: Kingdom's Call // Chuck Black

Another favorite! And that completes my Kingdom series! I won books 1-3 in a giveaway, and then found 5 & 6 at a local bookstore. Thus, ordering book 4 on Amazon was necessary to my book OCD. Definitely recommend this series, as well as the second series, The Knight of Arrethtrae.

~*~

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest // Melanie Dickerson

Although I've read almost all of Melanie Dickerson's fairytale retellings, I actually don't own any in paperback save for The Fairest Beauty (which really wasn't my favorite, but was better than The Orphan's Wish). Huntress is by far my favorite of her books, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. 

~*~

Kinsman Chronicles: King's Blood // Jill Williamson

I read King's Folly like 4 years ago, so finally getting this book last month and READING it was both a chore and amazing. Definitely got some dark tones, so it's for a more mature reader, but it blew me away. I hope it doesn't take me another 4 years to get King's War. Full review here on KiriBeth

~*~

The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

My husband found this in the TRASH at work. Like, SOMEONE WAS TRYING TO THROW THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK AWAY! *le gasp* He brought it home for me and I have not stopped being in awe since. I told you he was a great guy. The book was in like new condition, and I feel very fairytale-expert-snobbish right now with this on my shelf. I won't lie. 

~*~

Well, that's it for March, guys! What books did you add to your shelves this month? Let me know below! 

God bless!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Twelfth Kingdom: Snippets

We're almost to the end of March. How is it that every year seems to fly by faster than the last? I guess that's what getting old is all about. 

Anyway, the end of March ushers in the very beginning of April, which in turn ushers in the lesser-known writing challenge, Camp NaNo. This challenge is very similar to the real NaNoWriMo in November, except for the fact that each writer gets to set his or her own goals. Like, you don't have to write 50K words if you don't want to. 

I want to, though. Hopefully. And for once, my Little Writer and I are in agreement on that. I don't know that my life itself is on the same page. I've learned being a mom, wife, and household maintainer doesn't happen in an hour, and it leaves very little focused time for writing. The plan is to plug away, however; see how far I get. 

My big writing goal for this year is to complete the first rough draft of The Twelfth Kingdom, my twelve dancing princesses retelling. I worked on it during NaNo last year and since then have gotten it up to almost 100K words. If it's anything like what Secret of the Hazel Tree was, I know I'm going to have a massive book of close to 200K on my hands, but the main point right now is just to finish it. So, Camp NaNo is the perfect excuse to try to carve out time to add (hopefully) another 50K or more onto it. 

I feel very ambitious with this project. I'm not going to lie. TK has been a story way too long in the making, and it's cool to actually be FINALLY getting somewhere with it. I don't recall what year it was that the first spark came to me, but it had to have been close to 2012. It's actually kind of funny and humiliating to go back and read those first few chapters again and see how far my writing's come since then. College is good for something, folks. 

Anyway, to celebrate the approaching Camp NaNo, I've decided to share a few of my favorite snippets from the last few months. 

Mock cover for inspiration purposes. 

~*~

Murris handed T a crossbow. “Have you ever used one of these?”

T shook his head. 

“Well, learn now or die holding it,” Murris ordered, shoving it into his arms. “Your bolts load there, and then you trigger the mechanism.” 

~*~

Waedan pulled a thick, leather binder of paper off of a low shelf behind the large table taking up most of the room. “Have we been that stupid, Murris?”

“I certainly hope not,” Murris said. “But I can’t follow m’lord’s thoughts, so there’s a chance I have been.” 

~*~

At first, T was flattered to have been chosen to accompany the general of Fort Kalt on a special trip to the mining camp. But after an hour down the trail, wading through snow sometimes waist-high, he wished he hadn’t been so specifically chosen out. Murris and Waedan both seemed to have the skill of snowshoes down, but T for his life couldn’t figure them out. 

They were a large, flat contraption shaped like the bottom of his foot, but broader and extended past his foot on all sides when he slipped them on. Murris hadn’t bothered to give T any instructions when he handed the contraptions over, other than how to slip them on – which was even less instruction than he gave when handing T that crossbow. 

~*~

“Wait, wait, wait,” A said, holding out his hands. “You mean I wouldn’t have to go sit in the snow out there tonight?”

“No, I’ll do it,” G reiterated, fingering his eyepatch to lend severity to his words. “Since your gut can’t handle a few hours of cold, maybe your gut can handle a game or two with the boys tonight. I hear they’re itching to play a few card and dice games, and your gut may be the only thing to give them the entertainment they’re looking for.”

A narrowed his eyes. “Pretty sure you’re insulting me there. I’ll have you know that my gut has never been wrong.”

“Never means only a third of the time,” Q quipped, amusement shining in his eyes. 

A set his jaw. “Enjoy your freeze time tonight, fellows. I’m off to some cards and dice.” He stomped away, and T wasn’t the only one to break forth in laughter. 

G wiped his eyes. “That boy’s more fun to mess with than a kitten with a string.”

“What are card and dice games?” Q asked, looking after A. “He’s not going to get hurt, is he?”

“Not a chance,” G assured him. “They’re small gambling games, and harmless for the most part. He ain’t got anything to gamble, so I’m pretty sure he’s safe.” 

~*~

The interrogation went as well as could be expected. Thirrey was happy to spit out curses against the Finden soldiers and Lord Waedan and Fort Kalt and T and anything else in Findenland that he could think of. 

~*~

“Permission to spit, m’lord?” 

“No, Murris.” 

The soldier shook his head ruefully. “I guess that was just the fever talking, then.” 

~*~

He slapped his thighs again. 

Q frowned at him. “It’s not that funny, A.” 

“No, I agree. I’m just cold and I’m trying to warm my legs up.” He demonstrated with another set of generous slaps to his legs. 

~*~

But forgetting was not part of Simeanna’s nature. She’d been old enough to remember the plague. She still saw the doctors hovering over her parents, the glittering canopy over their bed, the bottles of medicine that clinked on a silver tray. The plague had taken more than half of their household. She still didn’t know how she had survived. But she remembered well enough living as an orphan in the streets once their riches had been destroyed. Stolen. 

Tears stung the corners of her eyes, but she fiercely willed them away, refusing to stoop to dabbing at her eyes with her hand. Now is not the time to be weak. 

Not when Terretmere and Veymark would be coming to dinner. 

~*~

Are you participating in Camp NaNo next month? Let me know in the comments! 

God bless!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Fantasy Favorites Tag

So, back in February, my dear friend Christine tagged me in a Fantasy Favorites Tag. The tag was meant to be filled out in February as part of Fantasy Month hosted by Jenelle. But as usual, I got busy and forgot about it, and the tag sat unanswered in my drafts. Thus, we are publishing it very late here in March. But better abominably late than never, I always say. 

And to further frustrate myself, I shall thus command that I may use no fantasy book/film/world more than once. Because all fantasy deserves to have its moment of glory. 

Ready? 


~*~

What is your favorite fantasy book? 

This may actually come to a surprise to most people, but I love reading Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, LOTR is epic in its own right, but it's hard to top C.S. Lewis's writing style. He just has way too many quotable lines. 

“In those days Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road.” 
- The Magician's Nephew

“Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I'm afraid even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.” 
- The Horse and His Boy

“You have no idea what an appetite it gives one, being executed.”
- Prince Caspian

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 

"Better tell him I'm Eustace," said Scrubb.
"The boy's Eustace, my Lord," hooted the Owl as loud as it could.
"Useless?" said the Dwarf irritably. "I dare say he is. Is that any reason for bringing him to court? Hey?"

"Not useless," said the Owl. "EUSTACE." 
- The Silver Chair

~*~

What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show (or both!)? 

Middle-Earth Saga. Because you have to include The Hobbit Trilogy with the LOTR Trilogy. Yes, Peter Jackson did some things wrong (I won't rant here), but I believe that his mistakes are not great enough to doom the saga as a whole. He did do a lot of things right. Besides, you've got the great scenery, the EPIC SOUNDTRACK, all the wonderful characters, and so on and so on. 

~*~

Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine? 

Cheating on this one, and doing one of each. 

Hero: Perrin Aybara from The Wheel of Time. He's a loyal blacksmith, is a Wolf-brother, and has the most adorable relationship with Faile. There have been times when reading the series, I'm kinda fed up with Rand and all I want to do is get back to Perrin's story. 

Heroine: Kale from The DragonKeeper Chronicles. If you've never read this series by Donita K. Paul, you don't know what you're missing. Kale is spunky, brave, stubborn, and all-around way to fun to follow around. There are some important life lessons to learn from her, too. Like wearing pink, because it confuses the enemy. 

~*~

Who is your favorite fantasy side-kick? 

I would have said Samwise Gamgee, but since I've already used Middle-Earth in this questionnaire, I'm gonna have to go with Elmont from Jack the Giant Slayer. I recommend the movie with caution since there is some language and fantasy violence. But hands down, Elmont is the best character. *spoiler* He's basically the guy you expect to die at every turn, but survives everything. *end of spoiler* He's stubborn, full of humor and sass, loyal, and all the awesome things. Plus, he's played by Ewan McGregor, so it almost feels like a fairytale/Star Wars crossover. 

~*~

Who is your favorite fantasy villain? (the one you most love to hate?) 

I have a very sneaking suspicion I'm going to hate Grimmel from HTTYD: The Hidden World. I love the HTTYD films, and I've already teared up watching the trailer and clips on Youtube. Once I get the full film, I feel like it's going to stab me right in all the feels. So yes, I will relish hating Grimmel. 

~*~

What is your favorite fantasy sub-genre? 

Fairytale retellings! I am a huge fairytale enthusiast, if you hadn't noticed. That's mainly what I write, and I do tend to read a lot of them (when I can get my hands on one). If you're looking for some epic fairytale retellings, might I suggest With Blossoms Gold By Hayden Wand, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson, Five Poisoned Apples collection by Rooglewood Press, and my own The Rose and the Balloon

~*~

What is your favorite thing about fantasy? 

Dragons! No further comments needed. 

~*~

What is your favorite fantasy realm? 

Neverland! Peter Pan has long been a favorite story, and at night I would tell myself stories of Neverland. I mean, c'mon -- pirates, Indians, mermaids, adventures, hollow tree homes, fairies. It's got basically everything! 

~*~

What is your favorite fantasy magic system? 

I'm really not into magic, so I'm gonna have to back out of this one. Not that I disapprove of magic in books/film, but after doing a lot of study on the subject, I've learned one has to be very careful about the magic systems built into stories. 

~*~

Sell me a fantasy book! Have you written a fantasy book? Give me your best pitch for it! Have you read an exceptionally great fantasy book recently? Convince me to make it my next read! 

The story I've written is a Cinderella mystery retelling, as of yet unpublished, since I'm still wading through editing and trying to decide how I want to query and find agents. Pitch: Legends claim Cinderella went to the ball to find a husband. In reality, she went to find a murderer. 

Exceptionally great fantasy book? ALL THE ILYON CHRONICLES! It's everything you want in an epic fantasy: family, dragons, adventures, romance, dragons, action, humor, dragons, incredible worldbuilding, dragons. It'll tear your heart out and you'll never regret it. Also, did I mention the DRAGONS?!

~*~

Alright, folks, that's it! Since it's no longer February, I'm not going to tag anyone else with this, but feel free to snag it if you so please! All credit, of course, goes to Jenelle

God bless!