Monday, May 22, 2017

Beautiful People Parents Edition: Dar

Eep! Beautiful People (hosted by Cait and Sky) is back! I haven't done one of these in way too long... That is, I was absent from blogging in February and there was no BP in April. So I guess it wasn't that long.

But anyway! I've been forgetting how much I love these, so I'd better hop back to it.


I usually agonize over which character I should feature for BP, I was copying the questions it struck me that it'd be really fun to answer these for Dar, the protagonist from my space opera tentatively entitled One of the Rabble (that title, as the word "tentatively" suggests, will most probably if you have suggestions, I'm more than glad to hear them!).


Overall, how good is his relationship with his parents?

Um. Not good. Not good at all. In fact, his relationship with his parents doesn't really exist at this point (the beginning of the novelette).

Does he know both his biological parents? If not, how does he cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected his life?

He knew both of them intimately until he was eleven years old, when his mother was assassinated. Then he ran away from home, and he hasn't seen his father in over ten years.

As you can imagine, this has affected his life to a ginormous degree. He went from being a prince to a street rat overnight. It's changed the friends he has, the life he leads, and the convictions he holds. It's the reason the story exists.

How does he cope with it? Oh, pretty well, he'd say. Ha, he never even thinks about it anymore. This is the life he's used to. This is the life he wants.

So he says.

“What's done cannot be undone.”  ― William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Image not mine.

How did his parents meet?

Well, his father was the crown prince, and his mother was the daughter of a prominent courtier. They both grew up in the capital city and saw a lot of each other as kids, and it just sort of blossomed into courtship and marriage.

How would he feel if he was told "you're turning out like your parents"?

He would be flabbergasted. Not in a bad way, necessarily, but he'd kind of stare at you and blink and be thinking, "I'm turning out like my parents? But they're--responsible, and regal and poised and--and law-abiding! I'm nothing like them! I'm a revolutionist, for Pete's sake!"

Although "for Pete's sake" might not be a very futuristic phrase, huh?

What were your character's parents doing when they were his age?

They definitely weren't living in tunnels beneath the palace slaving away as part of a revolutionist movement, I'll tell ya that.

At twenty-one, Dar's father was (as the prince) a very active political figure--always at meetings with the nobles, always consulting with his father, always trying to learn more about how to run a country. He barely had time to woo Dar's mother, who, at that age, divided her time between courtship, social functions, and a quiet but aristocratic life at home with her family.

Is there something they adamantly disagree on?

Sure. Dar has come to believe that having an aristocracy is an inherently bad thing and plans to help overthrow the ruling powers himself. His father the king, as you might expect, adamantly disagrees with that point of view.

Is this just a game for a rich young boy to play? The colors of the world are changing day by day.
Image not mine.

What did the parents find hardest about raising your character?

My dear Dar was not an easy child. He was a prankster, a troublemaker, an imp. It was all his mother could do to keep him from driving the servants distracted. (Actually...she couldn't do that.) And on top of it all, he kinda hated school.

His twin, Alphonse, was much easier.

What's his most vivid memory with his parental figures?

With his mother: his rare quiet moments with her in the garden. She used to sit with him and his twin, Alphonse, and tell them stories there. He'll always associate gardens with his mother.

With his father: probably one of the times his father was stern with him. There were a lot of those.

What was your character like as a baby/toddler?

He was a happy, bubbly baby--and a happy, bubbly toddler, too, for that matter, but one of those toddlers who you can't leave alone for more than two seconds for fear that he'll climb out of a window and kill himself.

Kudalu and Elané
Image not mine.

Why and how did the parents choose your character's name?

Dar's full name is actually Adario Salvadoro. I don't think there's any special reason for the name other than the fact that his parents liked it and thought it sounded like a good, strong, aristocratic name for a prince. (And also, because it started with A, it went well with his twin's name, Alphonse.)

"Dar" became an irresistible nick-name for the kid because it's one syllable as opposed to four.

So! There's this month's Beautiful People. Dar will probably get another one all to himself sometime, since this was primarily focused on parents and he is my pet character. Now talk to me! Are you doing Beautiful People this month? What are some of your characters' parents like?

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Hobbit Tag

To my delight, I have been tagged for The Hobbit Tag by Kate @ Story and Dark Chocolate. Thanks so much, Kate! I am muchly looking forward to this. Especially since I'm rereading The Lord of the Rings right now.

the Hobbit tag.jpg

Which hobbit do you relate to most: practical Merry, lighthearted Pippin, loyal Sam, courageous Frodo, or impulsive Bilbo?

Well, Sam is definitely my favorite. I can relate to his love of poetry, and interest in beautiful things like Elves and magnificent things like adventures, and his loyalty and affection and tendency to burst into tears.

But then I also have an extremely large streak of Pippin in me. *grins* Pippin's the character I got when I took a Lord of the Rings character quiz. I'm certainly silly and lighthearted and a little clueless like he is. And I feel for him, oh do I feel for him, at that point in the Prancing Pony and the following chapters where he's trying to prove to Aragorn that he's not a softy and kind of failing. Dear Pippin. So if I'm honest I might relate to Pippin the most. And I'm happy with that.

This is an absolutely lovely rendering. One of my most favorite moments of the book.
Image not mine.

But then. Bilbo. Who doesn't relate to Bilbo? He's small and insignificant and simple and bumbling and just trying to do his best. He's Bilbo, who longs for adventures but is scared of them, and who longs for his hobbit hole but won't turn back. Bilbo's just--he's an Everyman character, isn't he??

And Frodo. Evidently both he and I have an INFP personality type. He likes poems and things, too. And he's a thinker, more than is usual for hobbits. Oh, I do like Frodo.

Can it be possible that the only one I don't relate to is Merry? Oh, but I like him, too! (Y'know. He is much more responsible and mature and fit to lead than the movie gives him credit for. He's so...I don't know, so similar to a boy hero in the book. Nothing like me, but I'm fond of him.)

Now that I managed to make that question a lot longer than it needed to be without actually answering it...

Are you afraid of spiders?

Well, I definitely don't have arachnophobia. I can deal with spiders. But at the same time, I don't like them, and I am likely to squeal and jump if one gets too close to me.

Of course, if the spiders you have in mind are as big and stinky and hobbit-hungry as Shelob, then yes, I am afraid of spiders.

The Lord of the Rings - John Howe Art - Sam V Shelob
Image not mine.

Are you more likely to be underprepared and not have a handkerchief handy when your allergies flare up or be overprepared and walk all the way to Mordor with and entire set of pots and pans clanging around on your back?

A little of both, I do believe. I'm quite sure that if anyone's going to run off into a green May morning without a handkerchief it's me. But I'm also quite sure that if anyone's going to pack more books and notebooks than is good for them it's going to be me, too.

What is your Elvish name?

Marilla, apparently. Which does not sound Elvish at all to me, but that's only because I'm so used to Anne of Green Gables. (Ha! I wonder what Marilla Cuthbert would say if you told her she had an Elvish name. Most likely "Nonsense!")

Are you part of a best friend duo like Frodo and Sam and Merry and Pippin or are you a loner like Bilbo?

Oh, I'm definitely not a loner. I'm part of a duo...which is in turn part of a small Company...

What size shoe do you wear?

Nine. Or eight and a half.

If you had a choice would you live in Rohan, Gondor, or the Shire? Or… Mordor?

Despite the fact that Rohan is heavily populated with HORSES, I must needs go with the Shire.

...I made the right call, right? The Shire is just so homey and comfortable and quiet and there are ponies to compensate for the lack of horses.

'Middle Earth: The hill, Hobbiton-Across the-Water' (1930's) by English author and illustrator JRR Tolkien (1892-1973). Tolkien was also a gifted illustrator as well as author, creating abstract and subtly beautiful works of art.
Image not mine.

It's a good thing Rivendell isn't on this list otherwise I'd be agonizing over this decision for years.

What is the farthest off anyone has ever guessed your age to be?

I think once when I was about thirteen or younger someone asked me if I was going to be getting my driver's license soon.

But then, ah, like Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper, I also have been mistaken for the mother of my little siblings. A good few years ago--I would have been in my early teens--I am all but 100% sure that someone at the zoo thought my brother who is only six years younger than me was my son. Ouch.

Does your personality match your stature or belie it?

Um. If we're talking about courage and spunk and all that, I don't think my personality is quite as tall as my stature. On the other hand, maybe it is. I don't know. It's hard to judge your own personality, you know that?

Bag End Painting - Print from Original Watercolor Painting, "In a Hole in the Ground", Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Shire, Hobbiton, by TheColorfulCatStudio on Etsy
Image not mine.

What is your favorite riddle?

I rather like that one from Mother Goose--

     Little Miss Etticoat,
     In a white petticoat,
     With a red nose.
     The longer she stands,
     The shorter she grows.

There's another one about a needle that I think I like better, but I don't remember the exact words to that one.     

Do you wear any rings?

Why, yes, I do, as a matter of fact. There's a ruby on one my left hand and a sapphire one on my right. They don't make me turn invisible, though. They aren't even rings of power.

I keep my ring of power on a chain around my neck.

Would you be more likely to embarrass yourself by making a speech and forgetting what you were going to say or dancing on the table and falling?

Making a speech and forgetting what I was going to say. As a general rule, I don't dance on tables.

Do you ever feel like butter?

Now and then.

If you were a hobbit, what would your name be?

Hmm. How about Marigold Bracegirdle?

Do you like fireworks?

Oh, yes, indeed! Especially ones that sound like hissing spears and smell like flowering trees.

How do you feel about trilogies?

I love them, of course. Particularly ones by J. R. R. Tolkien. I'm not sure if I've read any others, to be strictly truthful...

Tolkien! Ahh, this is just beautiful! Look at all those books!
Image not mine.

What is your favorite poem?

Most definitely "Lepanto," by G. K. Chesterton. It's not only a beautiful, thrilling story in itself, but the meter and rhyming and alliteration are glorious, and of course Chesterton's descriptions are vivid and surprising and oh so perfect. Suffice it to say that this poem is masterfully done.        

Do you want to see mountains, Gandalf?

 I suppose so. The only real mountains I've ever seen are the Appalachians, which always disappointed me because they're so flat and low and covered in trees. Give me the sharp pointy stony ones with snow on the top!

Although, given the choice between walking through the Appalachians in the autumn or up Mt. Caradhras in a blizzard, I'll take the Appalachians.

Ama Dablam mountain, in Nepal Himalayas
Image not mine.

Can you swim?

Yes. That is, I can float, dog-paddle, and do something that may be termed the breast stroke. So I guess that makes me a Bucklander. Might want to change my hobbit last name to Brandybuck.

You’re Frodo. You need eight fictional companions to journey with you to Mordor. Who do you pick? They cannot be from Lord of the Rings!

I will not overthink this. I will not overthink this.

Well, assuming that "I am Frodo" means "I am in Frodo's position" and not "I have literally become Frodo Baggins," then obviously the first thing I need is a couple of girl friends to hang out with and chatter with and drink tea with whilst journeying through Middle Earth. So I name Jo March and Anne Shirley. I've known them practically all my life, and they're kindred spirits, so as long as they don't flare up angry at each other they should be agreeable companions.

Then we need a couple of experienced, levelheaded chaps to lead the expedition. Captain Smollet should be a good choice; he's all business without being boring, and he'll keep us disciplined and organized and on-track. He can have help from the Scarlet Pimpernel, who is ever so clever and daring he can only be an asset to the company.

As warrior extraordinaire and true knight, I name Charlemagne's own nephew Count Roland. He'll be the last to fall if we're attacked by orcs, and his horn will be quite handy in summoning aid, if we can get him to blow it.

 Let's also take George Dymory Ingleford from Enemy Brothers, simply because--well, because he's good in the best and fullest sense of the word and I know we can trust him. And Reepicheep, because we need a representative from Narnia and he's cute chivalrous, courteous, and courageous. Speaking of chivalry, Sir Gareth of the Round Table should be quite the agreeable companion; and that's eight.

notable character post on Anne Shirley: Jo Seated on the Old Sofa by                                                       ....Norman Rockwell: Captain Smollet Defies the Mutineers (Wyeth). Get unique, hands-on activity ideas for TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson at LitWits Kits make great books real and fun for kids!: The Scarlet Pimpernel - Bill DodgeI chose this later illustration of Roland because of the emphasis on his warhorse, Veillantif (vigilant). Horses in the song of Roland serve to indicate an aspect of their rider's personality to the reader (for example, Roland, as the commander of the rear-guard, is vigilant to a fault). We see similar practices in modern fantasy literature today. -Elijah Andes: BEST BOOK EVER!!! Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery. Go read it. Now. Then find every other Constance Savery book you can and read that too. :) She's an amazing storyteller.... and this is an amazing story."Brave as a Mouse" [Reepicheep] by burgundythorns on deviantART. *Taking deep breathe* *Singing*: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEE!!!"The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table" (1917) Illustrated by Arthur Rackham Of Sir Gareth 6 - How Beaumains defeated the Red Knight, and always the damosel spake many foul words unto him 
(Images not mine.)

 There. I didn't overthink that at all.

What is your Recurring Short Person Dilemma? Not being able to reach high cupboards, getting a stiff neck from talking to tall people, your feet not touching the ground when you sit in a particularly high chair and the circulation being cut off from your legs so that your feet swell to twice their normal size? I’m not bitter or anything, why would you say that?

I'm actually more on the tall side, so...

I suppose I spent a night in Fangorn Forest with the Ents.

If you could marry a kind of food, what would it be?

Marry a food? Come now, Kate, why would I marry a food? Unless I'm like the black widow spider that eats her husband. Can't I marry Faramir instead?

And now I have been given the task of tagging someone else!
Me: I wish this task had not been given to me, Gandalf. I feel too small for it. I wish it need not have happened in my time.
Gandalf: But, Lucy, there were no rules posted with this tag. You don't have to nominate more bloggers than you can think of.
Me: Oooh goody! I'd forgotten that.

I hereby tag, then:

Blue @ To Be a Shennachie (I'm sorry if you're drowning in tags, Blue!)

And I think everyone else I know has been tagged already, but if you haven't been and you want to be, then you are hereby tagged!

And there is the delicious hobbit tag! Let us drink tea and eat mushrooms to celebrate the wonderfulness of all things hobbit-like! Here's a cup of tea--sugar, cream, or both? And how do you like your mushrooms? I like them sautéed myself.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Francisco and Jacinta

Friends, I have a perfectly pathetic failure to confess, and you are going to sit down and listen to my pity party if it kills you.

(Just kidding. Feel free to go read something else if you like. Or scroll down past the pity party and get to the real meat of the post.)

So, a cousin of mine made her First Communion today. Her parish is a really beautiful, old-fashioned little place. So I began the day by sitting there in church admiring the stained glass windows, and the First Communicant's white dresses, and the morning light on the wooden pews...when the priest began his homily.

And I was complacently listening with my hands in my lap when the priest says words to the effect of, "Yesterday we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of Fatima..."

And my jaw dropped. And I stared at the priest. And the gears in my brain started whizzing, and I started thinking "May 13. May 13. Yesterday was May 13. And I didn't even think of it because I was at that other First Communion party and it's been exactly 100 years since the first apparition and I ought to have done a big fantastic blog post on it and been thinking about it all day and now it's gone and GAH WHAT HAVE I DONE."

Seriously, I've been looking forward to May 13, 2017 for quite a while now. Only to realize it was yesterday. And it will never come again. *melodramatic sigh*

But it gets worse, dear ones. This afternoon I sit down to write a belated Fatima post and what does the internet kindly tell me?

Francisco and Jacinta Marto were canonized yesterday.

Bl.Jacinta and Francesco Marto. Fatima seers.

My little Fatima friends, canonized! Yesterday! And I missed it!

Of course it makes perfect sense, what with it being the hundredth anniversary and all. But HOW on EARTH did I not hear about this sooner?? It's as though I crawled under a rock and stayed there while the Catholic world was doubtless buzzing with the news. I mean, I should have known about this at least a week in advance. I should have seen it in the Catholic paper or heard it on Catholic radio or something. But no. No, I hear about it the day after.


Okay, the pity party's over now. I simply wanted to explain why this particular (belated) Fatima post is going to be all about Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

I love these two so much! Out of the entire Fatima story, which is in itself a regular epic to be ranked above the Iliad and The Lord of the Rings, these two little shepherd children are perhaps my favorite part. They're such innocent, darling little things--like characters in a book--and yet their heroism and selflessness is as grand and hard and tough as the most fantastic stories surrounding martyrs and warriors.

Anything I could write about them won't do them I'm simply going to give you a list of facts about them, followed by a bunch of quotes. I feel like quotes are a great way to get to know someone.

And if you'd like to learn more about these dear little saints, then do dig deeper! There are suggested reading materials listed in the "Fatima" tab above, and I'm sure an online search would bring up hundreds of beautiful resources.

(And all these images are from Pinterest, by the way. As usual. What would I do without Pinterest? Besides finding productive ways to spend my time, of course.)

At another time, Jacinta said she saw a pope who had gathered a huge number of people together to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Jacinta and Francisco are both buried at the Our Lady of Fátima Basilica. And so we learn from little children – we learn how to be Saints! Saints Francisco and Jacina, Pray for us!......#mypic

  • Jacinta was seven when Mary first appeared to the children. Francisco was nine.
Francisco and Jacinta Marto to be canonized May 13 in Fatima — Aleteia
  • Jacinta, Francisco, and their cousin Lucia were inseparable.
  • The three children referred to the sun as "Our Lord's Lantern" and the moon as "Our Lady's Lantern." Little Jacinta loved Our Lady's Lantern best because it did not hurt the eyes to look at it. But Francisco always said that Our Lord's Lantern was the most beautiful.
  • Francisco was a tender-hearted little boy; he wept when he saw some boys mistreating a bird.
Francisco Marto of Fatima "I was thinking of God who is so sad because of all the sins: if only I could comfort Him!"
  • During the apparitions, Jacinta could both see and hear Our Lady; Francisco could only see her. Neither Francisco nor Jacinta spoke with Mary--that was Lucia's role.
  • At the first apparition, Mary revealed that Jacinta and Francisco would soon be taken to Heaven.
Feast of Or Lady of Fatima
  • Jacinta was deeply affected by Our Lady's request to pray for the conversion of sinners. She offered every sacrifice she had to make gladly in hope of saving poor souls.
  • Francisco, on the other hand, was most deeply struck by Our Lady's request to make reparation for the sins committed against Jesus. His life was spent in consoling Christ's Sacred Heart.
Francisco y Jacinta
  • The three children gladly made every sacrifice they could think of. When they found a length of rope lying around, they divided it into three parts so each of them could tightly tie a cord around his or her waist.
The 3 children of Fatima  Francisco, Lucia and little Jacinta
  • In 1918, the year following the apparitions, Jacinta and Francisco caught influenza during the epidemic. They offered their illness as they had all their other sufferings: gladly for love of God.
  • On April 4, 1919, Francisco died at the age of ten. He had just confessed and received Holy Communion within the last few days, and he died with a smile on his lips.
Fountain of Elias: Blessed Francisco Marto
  • Jacinta lingered for almost a year after Francisco died. Our Lady appeared to her and told her that she would die away from home. As Mary had warned, the doctors sent Jacinta to the city of Lisbon in hopes that better medical care there would cure her. But nothing helped, and Jacinta suffered, not only from her illness, but from homesickness.
Jacinta-marto-fatima-portugal-1917 - Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • During her stay in Lisbon, Jacinta found a friend in one of the sisters who cared for her. One day when the sister came in to talk to Jacinta, Jacinta asked her to move to a different part of the room--she had been standing where Our Lady always stood when coming to see Jacinta.
  • Jacinta was able to go to confession shortly before she died, but the priest did not give her Holy Communion because he did not believe she was dying. This cross was very hard for Jacinta to bear. She died on February 20, 1920, at the age of nine.
  • Jacinta was buried in her First Communion dress, as she had requested.
  • In 1935, Jacinta's body was discovered to be perfectly incorrupt. Her parents were present at the opening of her tomb.
Blessed Jacinta Marto's incorrupt body, seer at Fatima, Portugal

And now for some quotes!

"Tell everyone that God grants graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary." Blessed Jacinta Marto (one of the three Fatima children, who saw and spoke with our Lady) From MY Catholic Faith MinistriesBl. Jacinta Marto (1910–1920) was one of 3 children, who, while tending sheep near Fatima, Portugal, witnessed 3 apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several of the Virgin Mary in 1917. They were to pray for the conversion of sinners and of Russia, which was soon to fall under communism. At only 7 years old, she offered many sacrifices for sinners just as Our Lady requested. She is the patron of sick people, captives, and people ridiculed for their piety.  Her feast day is February 20th.
“Speak ill of no one and avoid the company of those who talk (bad) about their neighbours.” ~~~~~ Blessed Jacinta Marto of Fatima #mypic
Bl Jacinta
Quote/s of the Day – 20 February “We were burning in that light which is God and we were not consumed. What is God like? It is impossible to say. In fact we will never be able to tell people” ~~~~~ Blessed Francisco Marto of Fatima “Speak ill of no...
Today we honor Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church! "The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima." #FeastDayLittle Jacinta <3

And, lastly, a couple of fact-sheet thingies I stumbled across on Pinterest and found very handy while putting together this post. :) There are some lovely quotes from the children on these, too.

Saint/s of the Day – 20 February – Blessed Francisco (11 June 1908 – 4 April 1919 died aged 10), his sister Jacinta Marto (11 March 1910 – 20 February 1920 died aged 9) and their cousin Lúcia Santos (1907–2005) were children from Aljustrel near Fátima, Portugal, who said they witnessed three apparitions of an angel in 1916 and several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1917. Mary was given the title Our Lady of ...........
Blessed Jacinta Marto of Fatima

Well! There's my post on Jacinta and Francisco, two of my favorite saints. (And they're officially saints now! Yay!) Aren't they inspiring? They suffered so patiently and joyfully! And aren't some of those old pictures of them lovely? Francisco's eyes are so soft and large and prayerful in that fourth picture. What's your favorite story about the Fatima children? Do share!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Evil Writer's Award

I have been tagged for the Evil Writer's Award by Hope @ The Reader Addict. And...I'm not sure whether to be honored or insulted, actually...


Just kidding. Of course I'm delighted and flattered that in spite of the fact that I write middle grade fairy tales and have a blog entitled "Tangle Webs and Fairy Rings," Hope deems me worthy of receiving this award. I thank thee, Hope.

But I can't give Hope as much credit as Kate @ Story and Dark Chocolate, because she is the creator of this award and the rules say I have to give her all credit. See?

The Rules:
• Give all credit to the Evil Overlord and genius, Kate, for creating this award.
• Give a smaller amount of credit to the Evil Writer who tagged you (which means fall on your hands and knees and thank me for nominating you).• Tag at least two people.

And now on to the questions! It's high time to find out whether I deserve this award or not.

How many characters do you typically kill per book? And how many people have you killed in real life, dear? Do you… feel any remorse about this? I’m concerned about you.

Um, let's see. No one dies in Lillian. No major character dies in The Time Traveling League...exactly. *mysterious smile* So for middle grade, it would appear that I'm actually a very non-evil writer. Let us disregard middle grade and move on to YA.

Because when it comes to YA, I'm a tad more heartless. Two characters died in my space opera, not counting the character who died before the story started. And in a certain old fantasy of mine, two characters also died.

So two per book is a generous estimate, I suppose.

And what do you mean "in real life"? Aren't my characters real?

As to whether I feel remorse...well, there is one character in the space opera of whom I was very fond. But as I mean to include him heavily in the prequel, it doesn't make me too sad that he won't be in the sequel.

Do you prefer to use weapons of mass destruction like explosions and famine and world war or more personal torture like killing family and friends and pets?

What's the fun of mass destruction? Personal torture is much more--well, personal. You get to know your character better when you go after something that he and only he really cares about.

And mass destruction is scary.

August 06, 1945. Mushroom cloud from the atomic explosion over Hiroshima. S):
Image not mine.

Are you more like Loki, who perpetrates great evil with a creepy grin, or… give me a minute… Darth Vader, who secretly weeps inside his… fake head, whilst destroying the world?

I suppose by now you should already be able to guess the answer. I'm much more likely to weep than grin creepily while making life unpleasant for my characters.

Actually. I think I grin evilly while planning to do evil things and then weep while actually doing them. Unless it's something really bad, in which case I whimper from the outset.

What is the most dastardly crime you have ever committed as a writer?

Everything I did to Dar in the space opera. Particularly having him responsible for his mother's death at the age of eleven.

What kind of chocolate do you most like to devour as you burn things? White, milk, semisweet, or dark? Bonus points if you are so evil you find unsweetened cacao palatable!

I don't necessarily devour chocolate as I burn things. But if I did, I would choose milk chocolate every time.

What is your villainous title? You may not have “Evil Overlord” because that one’s mine.

*eyes widen innocently* Villainous title? Do I need one? How'd about "The Soft-Hearted Lady Who Falls in Love With and Rescues Her Victims"?

Which of your characters would actually be a match for you if you were to duke it out one on one?

Probably Ada. That's one of the characters from the original space opera who didn't make it into the current version because she was too much of a soft noodle.

Okay, okay, let's say Timandra. She's pretty much the vivacious side of me, so if we got on each other's nerves it could get pretty heated.

Which character, in all the many books you have undoubtedly written, is most likely to be your Archnemesis?

Hmm. I very much I ever written a character I truly hated?

Um. I had a character named Bonner once who was a sort of irresponsible, lazy, disrespectful jerk. I think he would very much get on my nerves. (Although, let's be honest, I was intrigued to find out what possible purpose he could have in the story.)

Do you wear a cape? Face paint? A mask? Special underpants? Or do you hide in plain sight… like Moriarty? Give me details!

I can often be seen in a polka dot blue dress with heeled black boots. Only the characters who have known me for a good long while would ever guess how heartless I can be.

How do you react when you have to kill off a character that is dear to you? Do you laugh evilly out loud? Do you chuckle under your breath and quickly glance around for your next victim? Do you go and weep in a corner for a month because you just lost a best friend? Or do you just shrug indifferently?

I might laugh a little evilly to myself and my siblings. And I pretend to enjoy being mean.

And I probably do enjoy it...until I get past the stage of playing around with the idea and actually come face to face with the reality that once I kill this character he will be gone.

Then usually I tell my family, "I don't want to kill him!" and my mom will say "Then don't kill him" and I'll say "But I have to kill him to prove I can do it! I'm not a wimp! Writers have to kill off characters now and then!"

So then I write the death...only to change my mind about the character dying in the next revision of the story.

If you had to choose a fictional villain (from book, movies, etc.) to sum up your villainous style as an evil writer, who would it be? Why?

Colonel Wilhelm Klink of "Hogan's Heroes."

Hogan's Heroes:
Image not mine.

He manages to make himself believe he's a monster who runs the toughest POW camp in Germany when really it's the prisoners who are running things.

Sometimes I convince myself I'm unusually cruel to my characters. But really I'm a total softy.

Let's see.... I tag.....

(because, even though Kate invented the tag, I'm quite curious to see what her answers would be...)

And, of course, anyone who wants to snag this tag for themselves!

And there we are! What do you think? Am I an evil writer? What's the cruelest thing you've ever done to your characters? How many characters do you typically kill per book? Is being tagged for this flattering or insulting? (If you think it's insulting and I tagged you, sorry!)

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Books of March and April

Well! I meant to post this at least a week ago, but haven't gotten around to it until now. I don't suppose the world would stop spinning if I neglected to tell it what books I read in March and April...but I like to talk about books, so I shall proceed to post this anyway. :)

All images have been snagged from Pinterest.

March's Books

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Comment below if I should read this. I'm not that sure if I want to so I need some suggestions.:

This was entirely new territory for me. I...don't think I'd ever read a modern YA book. Ever. But several dear friends had been raving about the Lunar Chronicles, and I trusted them when they said I'd like them, and it seemed I should read futuristic YA if that was the genre my space opera fit into, so...I took the plunge.

And I loved it. I couldn't put it down, and read every spare moment until I had reached the last page. The characters and plot were awesome; the pacing was tight; the writing was flawless. What  impressed me most of all was the world-building. It was remarkable. Cyborgs and hovers and Lunars and letumosis and eek!

Cinder was a great character. I loved how even though she was far more "tomboy" than "girly-girl" and emanates strength, she was very much a teenage girl. She wanted to be pretty and feminine, even if she would have died before admitting it. And Kai! He was so lovable, an upright kid with responsibility thrust upon him.

On top of everything, the story left off at such a cliffhanger I absolutely had to get my hands on the next book.

That said, I did have some issues with it. (As I understand, this is particularly clean and wholesome for YA, so I'll try not to be too hard on it.) It was a little dark and violent at times for my taste. The theme of "it's okay to be different" felt very...typical. And then there were inappropriate comments sprinkled throughout--nothing too bad, but still.

Basically, I'm glad I waited until I was eighteen to read this. 

Scarlet, by Marissa Meyer


More of the same from Cinder. The plot, pacing, characters, world-building, etc. continued to be excellent. And there were more characters for me to get attached to now. Interesting, lovable, hilarious, conflicted, hurting characters. (Thorne! Wolf! Cinder! Iko! Thorne!)

And the writing. It impressed me in Cinder, but now Marissa Meyer's verbs really jumped out and knocked me flat. Look at this sentence:

"Wolf peeled himself out of the shadows and prowled towards the staircase."

It's flawless. Absolutely flawless.

Content-wise, this one struck me as darker and gorier than Cinder. The sprinkling of inappropriate comments was worse. (You know those sentences that don't make a book bad but make it so that you can't wait to turn the page in case someone looks over your shoulder? There were a lot of pages I couldn't wait to turn in Scarlet.) And the "mush" was worse.

Cress, by Marissa Meyer

Cress  (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer:

I believe this to be my favorite of The Lunar Chronicles. The cast of characters is almost complete, and I had a regular fit of delight when I realized who was going to fall in love with who in this book.

But my poor dear characters! Marissa Meyer tortures them with the inciting incident, and, and, and--! Masterful. Simply masterful, I tell you. But I am not used to such intense fiction. I can't handle so much shooting and bleeding and emotion. I come close enough to flipping out when I watch old black and white Westerns, for Pete's sake.

But! Content was a lot better in this book. I mean, except for this one super-uncomfortable scene that could have gotten really bad really fast. (Come to think of it it's a miracle nothing really bad didn't happen sometime or other, what with Cress' overactive romantic imagination and Thorne's cavalier flirtatiousness, both of which are bad enough at times.)

But anyway. All in all this was definitely my favorite.

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

1991 Book Club Book - Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson. To see this book in LCL catalogue click on the book cover.:

The first time I read this some six years ago, I didn't like it much. Mostly because I was used to the Muppet adaptation and thus found the characters incredibly boring and un-relatable. (I mean, there's no Gonzo or Rizzo. How is this supposed to be entertaining.)

But then! A couple of years later, after seeing a friend's enthusiasm for the story, I decided to give it a second chance. And that time I liked it much better. So I read it to my siblings last year while we were vacationing at the Outer Banks (a very Treasure Island-y place, that). And then, to my infinite delight, my high school English literature class read it at the end of March.

Now, I can't imagine not loving the characters. Blustery, patriotic Squire Trelawney...calm, sophisticated Dr. Livesay...brave, impulsive Jim...they're all delicious. Not to mention Captain Smollet. Let it hereby be known that Captain Smollett is one of my favorite characters ever, second only to Sam Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings and Dym Ingleford from Enemy Brothers.

(At the moment. It will change sooner or later, I'm sure. But still.)

April's Books

Winter, by Marissa Meyer

Winter by Marissa Meyer • November 10, 2015 • Feiwel & Friends

A fitting conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles! It was so exciting that the middle of the book felt like the climax. And the actual climax about killed me.

And all the characters were awesome...and I almost cried a time or two...and the concluding sentence was perfect...

Of course. There has to be the content thing. I now know what to expect when told a book contains "passionate kissing." *cringes*

The Wasteland and Other Poems, by T. S. Eliot

The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot. The best poem. Ever.:

I don't know if I can really say I "read" this one. My eyes ran over it and took in the words. I finished it just because...well, because I had to read "The Waste Land" for school and thought I might as well read the rest of the poems so I could add one more book to this year's list.

*Lucy wallows in the shame of her own shallowness*

Let's just say I much prefer T. S. Eliot's "The Naming of Cats" to "The Waste Land." Not that "The Waste Land" doesn't have value! I began to appreciate it after my literature class had a stirring discussion about it. And often I find that my favorite poems are the ones I don't understand at all the first time.

So I'll revisit T. S. Eliot's serious poetry in a year or two and see what I think.

The Tempest, by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's The Tempest, cover by Milton Glaser, a Signet Classic paperback from the 1960s:

You can't go wrong with Shakespeare, can you? This isn't my favorite play of his--I read it mainly so I could enter an essay contest--but I did enjoy it. Ferdinand and Miranda are so cute.

...I think. My memory of this play is actually fading fast.

The Winged Watchman, by Hilda van Stockum

THE WINGED WATCHMAN This acclaimed story of World War II is rich in suspense, characterization, plot and spiritual truth. Every element of occupied Holland is united in a story of courage and hope: a hidden Jewish child, an "underdiver," a downed RAF pilot, an imaginative, daring underground hero, and the small things of family life which surprisingly carry on in the midst of oppression.:

This is the kind of book I would like to write someday. It's historical fiction about a family living through the Nazi occupation of Holland. While there is real danger, suffering, and heartbreak in it, overall it is a dearly sweet story. It was composed of such great elements--windmills, landwatchers, the Underground, collie dogs, aviators, dikes.

And the characters! Of course a book can't be delightful without delightful characters. I think my favorite was the mother, who loved her family fiercely and sacrificed so much for them and for her country. But I also loved the cheerful Underground worker Uncle Cor. And ten-year-old Joris, and his older brother Dirk Jan, and--oh! All of them.

Anne of Windy Poplars, by Lucy Maude Montgomery

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery:

I've been reading the Anne of Green Gables books in a harum-scarum order. Here's why.
My copy of Anne of Green Gables (which belonged to my great-grandmother) was a three-volume set comprised of Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne's House of Dreams. As an eight-year-old, I believed these three books were one book and read them as such...although I was very confused whenever Anne's House of Dreams referred to events that sounded dreadfully exciting but which I had no recollection of. ("Gilbert was dying of a fever?? How did I miss that?")

Anyway. What with picking up books here and there at the library and Half Price Books, I eventually pieced together the story until I'd read all but this one and Rilla of Ingleside, which is the conclusion to the series. After reading Rainbow Valley, I was aching all over to read Rilla and bored with the idea of Windy Poplars. But of course I can't read the conclusion without having read all the other books, can I? So I had to read this one.

While it wasn't my favorite Anne book, I still enjoyed it. Lucy Maude Montgomery's style is like autumn wind through yellow leaves and a spring brook over smooth gray pebbles. Anne is an old friend, and Green Gables is home. There's something heartbreaking about these later books that look back on the earlier ones, and I expect the last one to break my heart irrevocably...

But I can't wait to read it.

So! I've talked enough. Tell me about the books you've been reading lately! And have you read any of these? If so, who were your favorite characters? Do you ever read series out of order? Do you like YA? Historical fiction? Classics? Sit down and have a bookish conversation with me whilst I serve you a cup of tea!