mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)

Hi everyone,

A very belated happy new year! I'm glad to have this news to share with you today: my new novel The Goblins of Bellwater, though it won't be out until fall, is at least up for pre-order now on Amazon and other sites, and you can admire the cover art in the meantime:




If you're a Goodreads user, I also encourage you to add the book to your shelves over there. It's no commitment or cost, and it will help your friends learn about it, and lead to more readers being interested in it, or such is the theory.

You can read the back-cover blurb on those sites, but I'll put it here too to save you from clicking through:

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A new novel inspired by Christina Rossetti's spooky, sensual poem "Goblin Market"...

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out. Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit's end trying to understand what's wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn't talk of such things: he's the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Then Kit starts dating Livy, and Skye draws Kit's cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods. Skye and Grady are doomed to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever, unless Livy, the only one untainted by enchantment, can unravel the spell by walking a dangerous magical path of her own.

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By the way, you can read Rossetti's "Goblin Market" for free online. It's one strange Victorian paranormal ride, I'll tell you right now. Great fodder for a modern paranormal romance.

In related news, you can read a new interview with me here about my writing. I tackle, among other topics, that infamous "Which books would you take with you to a desert island?" question. Actually, I evade it, more like.

Hope you are reading lots of good books lately! Touch base and say hi.

mollyringle: (parfumerie)

It’s been easy for everyone to bemoan how much 2016 sucked. I don’t need to rehash the more traumatizing parts of the news for you.

Instead I’m going to write a post of things that were good in 2016. For me, at least.

Of my novel-writing projects:
Immortal’s Spring was released in June, and wrapped up my Persephone-myth-based trilogy. By that time I had also finished writing The Goblins of Bellwater, about which you’ll hear more soon, and started writing (rewriting, actually) Boy in Eyeliner, a guy/guy love story in modern day with many a nod to '80s new wave music and fashion. I just finished a complete first draft of that and will be hitting up some beta readers to critique it in a couple of weeks here. I have been completely loving it, proving that immersing myself in a creative project I genuinely dig is the way to save my sanity.

Of music:
The Monkees released a new album, and it was awesome. Yes, I was as surprised about that whole sentence as you are. Such a treat for us lifelong Monkees fans.
A few other groups I’ve discovered this year and adore (not to say they all have new albums this year, just new to me): Bleachers, Børns, Nicole Atkins, Julian Casablancas, Temples.

Of TV:
Grantchester has been a British-murder-mystery delight.
New Girl is appealingly funny so far.
Gilmore Girls ran their revival (discussed in an earlier post).
I’ve watched the first episode of Call the Midwife and am much inspired and will watch more.
New Sherlock underway, hurrah!

Of skin products:
My fussy, sensitive skin is actually liking the routine I give it now, with many of these products being ones I first tried in 2016. None of them cost ridiculous amounts, either, which is good because I’m also fussy about not spending too much on products:
Wash morning and night with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (and wash really well, but with fingertips only, no washcloth or other harsh scrubbing)
In morning: simple rosewater as toner (I like the food-grade Cortas brand; comes in cute glass drink bottle, and you can in fact put some in your drinks or cooking too if you want), and follow up with a little bit of Toulon Cellular Defense Face Moisturizer.
In evening: I usually don’t bother with toner, and put on some Oz Natural Super Youth Retinol Moisturizer.
Special treatment for the aging eyes: I like the movie-star trick of dabbing a tiny bit of petroleum jelly around my eyes, morning and night. Also, DON’T RUB YOUR EYES. Yeah, it feels good, but you drag the skin around and cause more wrinkling, bagginess, and discoloration over time. Crow’s feet from smiling, though: I embrace those.

Of perfumes:
Some tried in 2016 that I loved:

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel: a “Dad’s aftershave” kind of scent, nice and cheap too, but especially fresh and bracing. Hint of powdery violet in the mix as well.

Agent Provocateur: also nice and cheap. Considering I usually only LIKE rose scents, not love them, I’m surprised how much this has grabbed me. Musky, elegant, reminiscent of red lipstick; reminds me of something Satine in Moulin Rouge might wear.

Gres Cabochard: yet another that’s inexpensive. Handy that way. A lot of similarity to Robert Piguet Bandit (which I also love), in that it’s a strange but captivating green-plus-leather blend. Bad-ass in an old-fashioned way.

Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun: “vegetal” is a good word for this one. It almost smells like celery sometimes, but in a sweet and earthy way, thanks to the immortelle and other notes. It lingers and stays warm and alluring, and is decidedly unique.

Tauervillle Incense Flash: this is a big YES for those of us who like smoky incense scents. With a suggestion of campfire in this one. Beautiful.

Profumum Roma Audace: vetiver done smooth. Warm and green like an overgrown humid summer riverside.

Solstice Scents Sycamore Chai: warm slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream, drying down to a lovely and non-cloying marshmallow-vanilla.

Solstice Scents Maplewood Inn: sweet mug of chai with a fire burning in the hearth and freshly split pine logs next to it.

Papillon Salome: makes me think of Colette’s stories: a woman's apartment dedicated to shameless sensual luxury; cigarettes and long-slept-in bedsheets, but also fresh pretty flowers brought in daily, and the nicest of soaps in the bath.

...and I'll stop there. For now.

mollyringle: (Gutenberg)

This month Persephone's Orchard is a free download as an ebook (see Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and other sites too), and I've been contributing guest posts on my take on Greek mythology to many lovely book bloggers to help spread the word.

Since the posts are fun and brief and a nice diversion from the news, here's a roundup of them for anyone interested:

10 Things I Like About Persephone. E.g., "She has an interesting marriage story..."

10 Things I Like About Hades. For one: "He does not have blue flames for hair. No one except Disney has ever said so, and they are making things up."

"No one ever knows about all my cats": The Inscrutable Divine Trickster Hermes. "Yes, he’ll screw you over sometimes and drive you crazy. But he’ll also surprise you with unexpected gifts."

It's always the right time to immerse ourselves in good books, and it can be especially therapeutic in stressful eras. Hope you are all finding time to read something excellent!

mollyringle: (iPod)

It has come to my attention today that I've been included in an AP article being picked up all over the country. It's not about my writing, my books I've spent years creating, NO, OF COURSE NOT. It is, like last time, about a moment of online frivolity, and, once again, is not representing my original post quite accurately.

The article this time is about whether "ballot selfies" are legal (answer: depends on the state), and they include a few tweets from those of us who posted a photo on Twitter with the #ballotselfie hashtag. This was mine:

\

And you will kindly notice, if you have eyesight, that my ballot is EMPTY in that photo. I would not go posting my filled-in ballot. That's just tacky. Nonetheless, some of the versions of the article, such as this one, say stuff like, "They're posting selfies on social media with their completed ballots," followed directly by the link to my tweet. UGH. NO I AM NOT. Would you LOOK before writing the article, please.

What was the other time I made the rounds in an AP article, you ask? That was back in 2010 when I won the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one silly sentence, and was rewarded with headlines calling me a bad writer, because too many people do not understand the BLFC. (i.e., Those sentences are not from actual published books; they are all one-offs, written to be deliberately bad, for fun, by language-loving people with a bizarre sense of humor.)

But, in any case: go vote, my fellow Americans.

mollyringle: (Avatar)

Writing inspiration I heard today, from Neil Gaiman, talking to Elizabeth Gilbert on her Magic Lessons podcast:

"Audiences, fans, only ever want one thing, which is more of what they liked last time. And it is your job as an artist not to give that to them. 'Cause what you have to give them is what they don't know they want yet."

I love this and I agree, because I like to write things that don't entirely conform to genre guidelines. But of course I instantly thought of all those really successful writers who do turn out book after book of basically what the audience liked last time. And they seem happy, and the readers seem happy. Well, Neil talked about them right away too:

"There are dolphins and there are otters. ...The dolphin will come up, it will stand on its tail, it will do a somersault...and that's great... A dolphin will put on a dolphin show. The reason why there are no otter shows... the problem with an otter is if you get an otter to do a trick, and you give it a fish, the otter goes, 'Okay, that was fun,' and next time it'll do something completely different. Because why would you do the thing you just did again? Training otters is always a complete failure because what they want to do is the next thing. They don't want to do the thing they just did, and they definitely don't want to do it over and over again."

He acknowledges he's an otter (Liz Gilbert says she is too), and so am I; and they hasten to add (as do I) that we aren't demeaning the dolphin types here. We actually really admire them, and of course publishers love them. Publishers are less sure about what to do with otter types like me. They want us to find a niche, become a brand, be a reliable source of This Type of Book--like the dolphins. But even having written fiction for, gosh, over 25 years now, I've never been able to define what my type of book is. Because I like to do new things. I'd get unhappy and boxed-in if with each book I did more or less the same thing as last time.

I mean, I kind of have a signature style. I always have a love story, so in every book, I do bring characters together, drive them apart with obstacles, and put them together again. And I always deploy humor, at least in occasional scenes if not in a full-on comedy genre kind of way. (Though sometimes I go all the way into full-on comedy.) But some of my stories are paranormal and some are real-world. Some are modern, some take place long ago. In some books the central issues are life-and-death, while in others they only crest as high as relationship implosions. And even with the love stories, I like variety, which is probably part of why I love bringing in LGBTQ characters--lots more possibilities! Yay!

Publishers can count on dolphin types for their consistent work. They can't count on me or other otters for consistency. But they can count on this: if we don't write what we want to write, we won't be happy. And if we aren't happy, our work won't turn out as good. So, it's a bit of a gamble, taking us on. We know and we apologize. But maybe we'll end up giving readers what they didn't know they wanted, and then everyone wins.

mollyringle: (moon over ocean)

I recently had the pleasure of reading a new YA male/male love story called Caught Inside in advance of its release--see my glowing review here.



The novel's summary:

Luke believes he has his life figured out…and then he meets Theo.

It should have been simple—a summer spent with his girlfriend Zara at her family’s holiday cottage in Cornwall. Seventeen-year-old Luke Savage jumps at the chance, envisioning endless hours of sunbathing on the private beach and riding the waves on his beloved surfboard. He isn’t interested in love. Though his rugged good looks and lazy charm mean he can have his pick of girls, he has no intention of falling for anyone.

Nothing prepares Luke for his reaction to Theo, the sensitive Oxford undergraduate who is Zara’s cousin and closest friend. All at once, he is plunged along a path of desire and discovery that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself. No one, especially Zara, must find out; what he and Theo have is too new, too fragile. But as the deceit spirals beyond their control, people are bound to get hurt, Luke most of all.

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And today, author Jamie Deacon has answered some interview questions for me! Check them out:

MR: I loved the setting and now I long to visit Cornwall. What is your connection/history with the area?

JD: Oh, I’m so glad I’ve inspired you to visit the West Country. It’s a beautiful part of the world. I was lucky enough to enjoy many family holidays in Cornwall whilst growing up, and it’s a place that’s close to my heart. And of course the Cornish coast is a hotspot for surfers, so it would naturally appeal to my hero!

MR: What are your favorite types of scenes to write? And what are the hardest?

JD: I must have a taste for the dramatic, because I love writing scenes with a lot of angst, something which probably won’t surprise readers of Caught Inside. Opening scenes are the hardest for me, I think. Finding the best way to introduce readers to the story and characters can be a challenge. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of times I rewrote the first chapter of Caught Inside.

MR: Is there a genre you haven’t written yet but would like to try? How about a genre you’ll probably never write?

JD: LGBT stories are my passion, and I also can’t imagine writing outside young and new adult fiction. There’s something about YA and NA, the rawness of the emotion, how the characters are just discovering themselves and what they want in life, that really appeals to me. I’d definitely like to try my hand at something other than contemporary, though. I have an outline for a romantic suspense trilogy set in a prestigious art college, and even a tentative idea for a novel with a fantastical twist.

MR: What elements do you especially like to include in a love story?

JD: Lots of obstacles. I love tender moments and happy endings, but for me these are all the sweeter and more satisfying when the protagonists have had to work hard to get there.

MR: I must ask: are you a surfer? The descriptions of the sport in the book seemed realistic to me, but then, I’ve never really tried it!

JD: Hahahaha! No, I’m not a surfer. Like Zara, Luke’s girlfriend in Caught Inside, my balance is atrocious. The closest I’ve ever come to the sport is water-skiing, and it’s fair to say I spent far more time in the water than on it. I’m thrilled that my portrayal of surfing came across as authentic, though. It was really important to me to capture Luke’s passion, and I did a ton of research in an attempt to get it right.

MR: What are you working on now, and/or planning to write next?

JD: I’m currently writing Forbidden Steps, the second novel in my Boys on the Brink series. This one deals with a fledgling step family and all the tensions and conflict that so often results when two families are dismantled, then pieced back together to form something entirely new. The fact that my heroes are stepbrothers who fall in love only adds to the drama! In the meantime, a short story of mine will be appearing in an anthology of NA m/m romances about taking chances, due for release later this year.

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I am looking forward to those new stories, for sure! In the meantime, connect with Jamie:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Boys on the Brink Reviews


Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are thrust headlong into the breathless, euphoric, often painful whirlwind called love.

Get Caught Inside at:

Beaten Track Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo

mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)

Today I'm excited to welcome back author Kaitlin Bevis, who, like me, loves writing Greek-mythology-based stories. And she has a new book coming out soon! Love and War, the latest in her Daughters of Zeus series, will be released on Oct. 21, and you can preorder it now. Read all about it here, and check out an excerpt too, and dang is that a gorgeous cover or what?

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After narrowly escaping with her life, Aphrodite wakes up to find herself at the demigods’ base camp—a gorgeous tropical island. Powerless and injured, she has no choice but to glamour herself as a demigoddess in order to find out what’s really going on. Lucky for her, she’s not alone. Ares is with her, also in disguise. But she soon realizes she might be more of a liability than an asset when her panic attacks and nightmares threaten to expose them both.

Ares is as anxious as anyone to shut down the demigods’ plot. But right now, all he can think about is Aphrodite. He almost killed her, for Gods’ sake! And though the timing couldn’t be any worse, he’s falling hard and fast. He’ll do anything to protect her . . . even if it means sacrificing himself.


Still, they find allies in the most unexpected places . . .

More goddess than demigoddess, Medea is married to the rebel leader, Jason. But there’s something odd going on. Jason is acting very strange, and Medea finds herself drawn to a new demigoddess who mysteriously arrived on the island half-dead. She senses there’s more to this visitor than meets the eye. Little does she guess . . .

War is coming, there’s no doubt. But, in her weakened state, does Aphrodite have any hope of surviving it?


Read an excerpt here!

Read more... )

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Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

mollyringle: (Hogwarts)
Hi everyone,
I finally rounded out my Harry Potter condensed parody collection by writing one for Order of the Phoenix, and it is now done and you can read it here! (Also here.)

Or at least, my parody series WAS complete until they released that eighth book yesterday. I'm ignoring that detail for now.
Feel free to send anyone to my full collection of parodies if you think they'd like them. They include not only the HP books but the Lord of the Rings movies, and a couple of other random things.

Now I get to bring my attention back to my own novels, which have been a tad neglected during this process, but which I'll be happy to dive into again.

Hope you're having a lovely summer!

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, condensed

by Molly Ringle
August 1, 2016
With no permission from, and many apologies and thanks to, J.K. Rowling.


CHAPTER ONE: LET’S START WITH A LITTLE WHINGING


HARRY: The Dursleys are mean and my wizard friends aren’t telling me the Voldemort news and I’m grumpy. I mean, yes, that’s my usual mood for most of the series, but I’m REALLY FEELING IT this book, you guys.
Then his summer gets a lot more exciting when DEMENTORS appear in the alley and corner HARRY and DUDLEY! A DEMENTOR sucks DUDLEY’s face until HARRY chases it off with the Patronus Charm.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF CAPS LOCK RAGE: Hello! I’ll be tallying caps lock rage. So far, one line for Harry, followed by one for Dudley. Carry on.
Read more... )
mollyringle: (Beneath My Skin)

In her books about happiness and habits, writer Gretchen Rubin delineates what she calls the Four Tendencies. They are, in short:

Upholders: respond readily to both outer and inner expectations (that is, expectations from others and from themselves)
Questioners: meet inner expectations, but question outer expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
Obligers: meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

You can take the quiz here to find out your own tendency. (I’m a Questioner. My thought when that answer came up: “Hmm, I don’t know, I really thought I was an Upholder. I question the...oh.”)
More here on the tendencies if you’re curious.

But for now, I thought it’d be fun to examine where the characters in my Greek myth trilogy fell on this framework (The Chrysomelia Stories, starting with Persephone's Orchard). So here goes!

The heroes

Hades and Persephone: both Questioners. In ancient days, Hades resists conforming to the lifestyle of his fellow immortals, and instead finds his way into the Underworld and takes up residence there, asking questions all the while. Persephone, similarly, resists her mother’s expectations about what her marriage and life should look like, and follows her curiosity toward a life with Hades instead. In the modern day, their reincarnated selves behave much the same.

Aphrodite: Obliger. Sure, she’s quite the independent and strong woman, but she does basically please others (and teach them to please themselves) as the point of her existence. However, she does also seek to please herself a good deal too, so…I wonder if Aphrodite is actually a rather unconventional Upholder?

Dionysos: Rebel. The very god of rebels! In my version, mind you, he starts out more as an Obliger, living only to please his lover. But in being saved from death and becoming reborn, he strikes out on his own and decides to devote his life to bringing revelry and unrestrained pleasure to the masses, and enjoy some casual worship along the way. Tabitha, in the modern day, shows her Rebel personality too, by only going to class or showing up for people if and when she feels like it, but she does love her friends and will travel the world to see them or lay down her life to save them, simply because she wants to.

Hekate: Upholder. She has her insecurities and sometimes feels out of place, what with her peculiar gifts and upbringing, but the woman can do well-nigh anything. And you can rely on her 100% if she says she’s got your back. Same goes for Zoe, in the modern world.

Hermes: Questioner. He’s charismatic and engaging, but holds his cards close to the vest, always; you’ll never know the extent of the divine trickster’s clever thoughts. He has complex plans and he’ll see them through, but can you rely on him to do as expected or asked? Absolutely not. Not in this lifetime or any other.

Poseidon: Obliger. He uses his water magic to protect his loved ones, even when he has to keep his powers a secret, and even when it means being lonely. But he does show some of what Gretchen Rubin calls Obliger Rebellion, in breaking the rules to rescue Amphitrite from her life of near-slavery. But even that is done to make HER life happier (as well as his own).

The villains (leaders of the cult Thanatos)

Quentin: Upholder.
She’s got nerves of steel, never lets emotion or setbacks get in the way, and sticks to her plans and her mission all the way to the end.

Landon: Obliger. He’s not really cut out for this villain job, honestly, but he wants to do his teammates proud, and now he’s in it too deep to get out easily, so he’s going to try to see this through, to impress them. He really is.

Tracy: Questioner. This evil cult needs a shake-up, if you ask him, and he’s got some new ideas he’s going to try. And he really doesn’t care if you don’t like them. He believes in them and he’s going to do them anyway.

Try the Four Tendencies on your own favorite characters!

mollyringle: (moon over ocean)

I'm happy to be able to liven up this Monday by bringing back Kaitlin Bevis, author of the Daughters of Zeus series! We've been talking about our Greek myth series and the different ways we've handled the characters of the gods, so here she is on this week's topic. Welcome, Kaitlin! Take it away...

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Last time I was a guest on this blog, I touched on the surprising similarities between the characters in my Daughters of Zeus series and Molly Ringle’s Chrysomelia Stories Series. Today, I’d like to talk about two characters who couldn’t be more different.

Poseidon and Ares.

Now, there were no saints in the Greek Pantheon. To create a sympathetic character for a retelling there are some major things that the writer either needs to reframe or just ignore. The characters of Poseidon and Ares in both of our books are great demonstrations of that in action on both sides of the concept.

Take Poseidon for instance. In Mythology Poseidon could be benevolent to his followers. His myths inspired the kind, thoughtful, fun god we see in Molly’s series (adorably portrayed by Liam, who funnily enough, reminds me of my Triton), Rick Riordan’s series, and more.

Myths also portray him a violent rapist with control issues and a mercurial temper. Which is more reflective of my Poseidon.

In both my story and Molly’s, there’s something deeper beneath the surface. Both of our Poseidon’s are driven by complex motivations and strong beliefs. We just let them drive our characters in different directions.

Ares is an example where I looked the other way. In mythology, Ares was rash and violent. He had a reputation for being blood thirsty. In Roman Mythology a rape committed by him set the entire empire into motion.

But my Ares is very much a sympathetic love interest. The second generation gods in my books are almost always their own foils. Persephone is basically the goddess of spring and rebirth and she’s terrified of change, Aphrodite’s the goddess of Love and wouldn’t know a healthy relationship if it fell into her lap, and Ares, poor misunderstood Ares is a god of war who hates conflict. I figured if he was “Zeus’s most hated son,” then it was probably because he was as far from him in characterization as possible.

Zeus is a character Molly and I are very much in agreement with being an ass.

Sometimes people get very frustrated when a god they’ve heard a million terrible things about is portrayed in a kind light. (Don’t believe me, look up reviews for Disney’s Hercules). But in every Greek retelling, the author has had to reframe someone as a sympathetic and likable character. The original Greek Gods were monsters. Every one. They were wonderfully complex monsters that had moments of shining humanity and kindness, but those moments are easily overshadowed with only a minute’s research. But, like time, these characters have evolved. As a society we have evolved and changed. We don’t admire the same things we used to. We look down upon things we used to think were just fine. As we evolve, so should our heroes.



* * *


Bio:
Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Visit Kaitlin at her website, and browse all her books at Goodreads. Ask for them anywhere your favorite books are sold!

mollyringle: (Gutenberg)

I handed this out, along with pretty bookmarks, at the B&N events I attended over the weekend. (Which were fun, by the way! Got to talk to lots of cool book-loving and book-creating people.) Feel free to use it for your character-creating needs.

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WRITING WORKSHEET: DRAW UP A CHARACTER


What’s your character’s name and how old are they?

Where did they grow up and where do they live now?

Relationship with parents or other family members: what’s that like?

Who are their best friends? Why do they get along with them, and what conflicts do they have with them?

What’s their living space like? (Tidy, cluttered, plain, colorful, stark, cushy, noisy, quiet, cramped, spacious…)

Do they like books, music, shows, films? What kinds?

Financial situation: rich, poor, somewhere in between? Where does their money come from?

What do they look like? How do they dress, and do their hair and jewelry and makeup?

What state of health are they in? Any chronic conditions or disabilities?

What was/is their school like? How were their grades? Which subjects were they good at, and which were they bad at? Did they go to college (or plan to), and if so, to study what?

What do they do for a living (for characters old enough to work)? What would they like to do instead, if different? Or for young characters, what do they want to do when they grow up?

Romantic relationships: who are they attracted to? Who have they dated, if anyone? How did those relationships go?

What religious affiliations do they have, if any? What are their views on spirituality and religion?

What is their ethnicity or cultural background?

What political beliefs do they hold?

How’s their sense of humor? Do they laugh a lot, or not much? What do they find funny?

How’s their temper? Do they get in fights and arguments a lot, or not much?

What does your character want most—or think they want most, when the story starts? (They might find they truly want something different by the end.)

What does your character fear most, or struggle with the most? What’s holding them back from getting what they want?

What’s their happiest memory? And their most traumatic memory?

How would their personality be described by those who know them? How would the character describe their own personality?



Some of this will be used in your story and some won’t, but it’s all important for you to know as the writer!

mollyringle: (girl reading with moon)

Though I rarely like to emerge from my quiet attic and face the public, I've consented to do so for the next couple of weekends in order to chat about my Greek myth trilogy. So for those in the Seattle area, here is where I will be. All are free events, no reservations required. And I do hope you will come join me!

In celebration of Barnes & Noble Teen Book Fest:

Friday, June 10, 1:00-3:00 p.m.: Downtown Bellevue B&N, hanging out with graphic novelists, artists of posters and cover art, and other creative types

Saturday, June 11, 3:00-4:00 p.m.: Southcenter B&N, signing books with fellow paranormal YA author Gloria Craw

Sunday, June 12, 1:00-3:00 p.m.: Northgate B&N, book signing followed by writing workshop panel with Adaptive Studios

And then the following weekend, out on the street:

Saturday, June 18, Morgan Junction Festival, Meet the Authors booth: my half-hour time slots for hanging out and talking about writing are at 10:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

May you get out and about and enjoy some books, there or elsewhere!

mollyringle: (Buffy folk - by mangofandango)
I see that the small class size of Hogwarts is a trending topic lately. The "Voldemort-era anti-baby-boom" explanation as shown there on Buzzfeed may actually make some sense. But on the whole I'd attribute the small-ish cast to a trope you see a lot in fantasy, sci-fi, and other works involving extensive world-building. As far as I can tell, TV Tropes doesn't have a name for it (or maybe they do, but I'm not searching deep enough), but I'd call it something like "Not Enough People For This World."

You get this impression not only in Harry Potter, but in Game of Thrones and other fandoms. We see, or at least hear of, armies and other groups made up of thousands or millions of people, and we know we're dealing with a world fairly vast and large, yet all the widely-strewn characters keep bumping into each other within it. And when you do need an army of millions, they aren't there and you end up with seven or eight familiar faces doing the heroic defending. (GoT does have people hiring entire armies, I know. But at the same time, they also frequently have people traveling hundreds of miles and randomly encountering someone they know. And you occasionally get the weird impression that some entire kingdoms have, like, fifty or sixty people living there.)

TV Tropes does have the "It's a Small World After All" trope and the "Contrived Coincidence" trope, which both overlap what I'm describing, but are not quite the same thing. Thoughts? Anyone else have the Not Enough People For This World impression in other material?
mollyringle: (books & pearls)

Today I am delighted to spin the spotlight onto my friend and fellow Northwest author, Pam Stucky! Pam is celebrating the release of her newest novel, The Secret of the Dark Galaxy Stone, second in her YA time-travel adventure series, following up on book 1, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse.




She's humoring me by answering some questions today about her writing life, and her answers have made me laugh several times, so I think you'll enjoy them too. Here they areenjoy!

You’ve written novels in epistolary format (the Wishing Rock series), non-fiction travel guides (Pam on the Map), and lately a YA sci-fi series (Balky Point Adventures)—a very cool variety of genres! Are there other genres you’d like to try writing someday? How about any genres you’ll probably never write?


I've actually also written a screenplay, which, while not technically a genre, was completely different and very fun—a totally different challenge. In screenplays, everything you write has to be something that can be acted. So you can't say, "She was a woman with thirty years of wasted therapy behind her"; you have to figure out: how do I *show* that in a way that an actor can act it? It was difficult but a fantastic exercise, and I think (hope) it helped improve my writing, at least a bit! And even as I write the A's to your Q&A, I'm also at the very beginning of a murder mystery. (It seriously took me a while to get up the guts to google "how to murder someone and make it look like an accident." I swear, it's writing research!!! I swear!!) I'm not sure if it'll be a book or a screenplay yet, but this, too, is an intriguing challenge. Trying to create a mystery is like doing a puzzle backwards: first you figure out the whole picture, then you figure out in which order you should reveal the pieces. Okay, not exactly backwards. But it's definitely a puzzle.

What genre will I never write? Hm ... I would never say never. As with the screenplays and the mysteries, everything is a new challenge and therefore interesting. However, I'm less likely to delve into romance, I suppose. I'm going back and forth on whether I'd ever write a western. Probably not. I tend to think less of "genre" than I do of "what story is interesting to me," though. So if I were to think of an interesting romance or western, I'd give it a try, for sure.


In the Balky Point books, which character was easiest for you to relate to? And who was the most challenging?

I'm always amused when people think one character or another is more "me" than another—because, honestly, I feel like every character carries some elements of myself. I think the main characters tend to be my more public selves—Ruby in the Wishing Rock series; Emma in the Balky Point books. But in the Balky Point books, the Charlies and Dr. Waldo were so easy and fun to write, because they're just my playful selves. (As I'm writing this, I'm noticing: "selves" is a weird word when you look at it!)

I think the most challenging thing for me to write, always, are the bits of conflict. Which, if I'm doing my job, is supposed to come up a good bit in writing! In real life, I'll go to great lengths to avoid conflict. But books need it. So I'll say the antagonists, and the unresolved conflicts, I really have to consciously work on those.

Travel obviously inspires your writing a good deal, in the fiction as well as the travel guides. Do you have plans to visit any new locales (and write about them) in the next year or two?

According to my bank account, there are no travel plans in the near future. But that hasn't stopped me from planning! I visited Australia when I was in college and have been wanting to go back ever since. Lately I've been planning a trip to Western Australia, so I am ready to go when I can. It's such an under visited place, and that's part of what draws me: the possibility of discovery. I would love to be able to spend a couple months Down Under, actually. In my latest book, The Secret of the Dark Galaxy Stone, my characters took the trip for me to the town of Lightning Ridge, in New South Wales, Australia. I went there on my college trip, but for the book I "had to" do more research. I "drove" down the roads using Google Earth (is that the one where you can get to street level?), and their tourism center sent me a huge packet of information. I feel like I've just been there again!

I also can't wait to get back to Switzerland. I'm 7/8 Swiss, and my family took a heritage trip to Switzerland in 2007, tracing our roots. It felt like home, somehow; like my genes recognized it. I want to go back. Maybe in winter, sometime, to one of the carless towns in the mountains. Me, a cozy cabin in the snow, some chocolate and fondue and Swiss wine (it's delicious but they only export 1% of what they produce!). Heaven!

I love that you use humor so often in your writing too. Who/what are your favorite sources of comedy when you need cheering up?

Do you know, this question really stumped me. I rarely seek out comedy, but I really should. There is nothing like a good laugh, like that laugh where you're laughing so hard there's no sound coming out of you and you can hardly breathe ... that's the best! I need to seek out more comedy. I do know that whenever I come across some old Whose Line Is It Anyway episodes, I stop and watch. That comedy that comes from improv, nothing matches that. I actually took an improv class once. I can't remember why. One key lesson that I remember, though, is that you have to let the comedy flow from each moment. You can't pre-plan what's going to be funny in improv, and then try to somehow guide the scene toward your plan; that will never work. The humor comes from seeing a moment, and seeing the humor in that moment. To that end, I'd say that I think of myself as a good observer, and maybe that's part of it. Being an observer, combined with being able to connect random dots, that's where humor comes from, maybe.

I think, too, that what's important in humor is recognizing that humor is not a standalone emotion. Rarely are things only funny. Usually there's something else in there, some recognition of human truth. Recognition that we're all in this together, and "this," life, is pretty odd sometimes. That's why sometimes when you try to re-tell something that was hilarious at the time, you can't. You end up saying "You had to be there," because it wasn't just about the words. It was about the connection, and the situation, and the history of the people involved, their relationship ... humor is so thick, so deep and dense. I think that's why it's hard to do it when you try. The best way to be funny is not to try. I know that's not really helpful, but I think it's true.

You mention A Wrinkle in Time as an influence for the Balky Point books. What other YA books have been an inspiration for you and your work?

Well, there's this author named Molly Ringle, whose delight in the written word is an absolute inspiration ...

First, let me say that I hate labels, and among the labels I hate most are book genre labels. When I write, I write stories I am interested in reading (or, in the case of screenplays, seeing). I don't set out to write a genre. People have told me the Balky Point books are actually more middle grade ... I think their reasoning is that there's no sex, little violence, no dystopia, so it can't be YA because it's too tame. At the same time, I very purposely didn't "dumb down" my writing. There are a lot of "big words" that middle grade kids wouldn't know. Which is fine; my purpose there is that we learn by reading, right? If they're exposed to something they don't know, that's great! One of my favorite compliments of The Universes Inside the Lighthouse came from my niece — who, by the way, spent half an hour telling me everything she loved about the book when she first read it. Anyway, she said, "It gives you a lot to think about." Or something like that. I thought, yes, that's what I want. I want people to think.

What I find interesting is that a YA book is first and foremost a YA book — then it's sci-fi or adventure or fantasy or whatever else. YA does a better job, I think, of recognizing that life is not segmented in the way books are. Life encompasses everything, and I don't see why books can't, too.

So, back to your question. The Fault in Our Stars made me weep so bad ... I was on a plane to Toronto when I was reading it, and I got toward the end and I thought, I need to stop reading this on the plane. I am about to go into a very loud, very wet, very ugly cry, and I don't know that I want to do that on a plane. The fact that John Green was able to elicit such strong emotions from me (and so many others) is inspirational. The Hunger Games books actually sort of disturb me in how popular they are, because I feel like their popularity points to something we've lost. (But that's a whole other discussion!) Still, the writing was so compelling; it kept me reading even while I found myself disturbed. And OF COURSE Harry Potter, which is such an amazing series that, frankly it transcends genre completely. The way JK Rowling built a world so vivid that each of us feels we know it inside and out is indescribable. I aspire to that, one day. It's a tall order.

I don't know what genre "Choose Your Own Adventure" falls under, but I was obsessed with that series in its day, and I still think about how I could do my own version of it. I have some ideas, but haven't fallen on the right one yet. But stay tuned!


Now that The Secret of the Dark Galaxy Stone is out, what’s next for you in the writing life?

I have so many ideas I want to work on, and having just published The Secret of the Dark Galaxy Stone, I'm still in a sort of transitional zone. As mentioned above, I've had a murder mystery in my mind for a while, and I think ultimately that's what I'll settle on. I loved the Nancy Drew books growing up, and I relish a good crime drama. I think it'll be a screenplay. I know the setting; it's based on a real-life setting that I saw last summer on a road trip. I turned a corner and saw the setting in front of me, and thought: I need to set a book here. This is perfect. (I won't say just yet where it is!) I have ideas for a few other novels, and I know what book is next in the Balky Point Adventures. I also have a couple of non-fiction books I want to write. But for now, I think it's the murder mystery.

Going back to being in a transitional zone, that's something I want to talk about because I think we don't hear authors talking about this. Dark Galaxy was my ninth book, though I published all three of my travelogues at the same time, and one of my other books was more of a marketing piece ... my point being that I've hit that post-book zone let's say six times, legitimately. It took me a few books before I realized that every time, finishing the project dumped me into a sort of mini-depression, funk, malaise, whatever you want to call it. I now know to expect it, but in those early days it was disconcerting and troubling. It's a sudden sense of purposeless. Like there's a joy in not having to edit that day, but there's also this feeling of, "Now what?" It's a time when everything is possible, but at which you also sort of need to re-evaluate: am I still on the right path? Anyway, again, this could be a whole other discussion, but I wanted to mention it so other writers who may be writing their first books are aware. It happens. I know musicians who say the same thing happens post-tour. I imagine it's just a post-project thing. What I'm learning is the best thing you can do is jump into creating again. It's tempting to say, "I have worked so hard; I deserve a break!" And that's true, but we creatives are happiest when we're creating. So create.



I couldn't agree more--and I definitely get that post-book depression syndrome too. Thank you for such delightful and thoughtful responses, Pam!

Visit Pam and browse her books at her website or Goodreads, and come say hi to her on Twitter.

mollyringle: (lightning)

New book release from one of my lovely fellow authors at Central Avenue Publishing!


I got to read this novel early, and as always, I'm impressed with Dean's work, and his versatility. In The Hambledown Dream he crafted a beautiful and gritty paranormal romance, in Gifts of the Peramangk he brought to life a family saga about Australian race relations, and with The Recipient he's written a scary and intriguing medical thriller. But what he brings to them all is authentic human emotion, a diverse assortment of characters, and a creative dose of imagination. As a nurse (and occasional patient), Dean knows the scientific side of this book inside and out, and I was moved by the realistic emotional and physical fallout undergone by Casey, the protagonist whose heart transplant kicks off the story. Then, pulling us more into the paranormal-thriller side, it turns out the heart has a dark tale of its own to tell about its previous owner, if Casey is willing to listen. Spooky and suspenseful, the story also touched me, because Dean never forgets these are actual humans living through all this turmoil.

Also, I greatly like Dean as a person, because he has a cool Australian accent (to my ears he pronounces his own name "Dane"), he's eternally sweet and supportive to all of us in the writing world, and he's one of my top go-to people if I want to talk Star Wars. He is a serious and dedicated fanboy there, as he'll happily tell you himself.

The Recipient is Dean's third full length novel for Central Avenue Publishing and is distributed internationally by Independent Publisher's Group. Visit him at his blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, and more. And ask for his books at your favorite bookseller!

mollyringle: (arthur)

I finally saw The Force Awakens (loved it!), and was reading news stories about the popularity of the Stormpilot pairing (which of course I could totally get behind). I should know better than to read the comments, though. Oy.

I don't want to give these articles extra traffic by linking to them. You can find them easily enough if you want. I'll just say that even on the more liberal news sites, and even in this modern enlightened age, the comments section is still filled with remarks like, “Who cares what their sexuality is; why shove our faces in it?” and, “Ugh, if they include that kind of politically-correct crap, I’m so done with this series.”

And when I read those comments it makes me even more determined to keep including LGBT characters in my writing. Because if LGBT people can be brave enough to go about their actual lives up against those attitudes every single day, I can surely be brave enough to write fiction about it.

Plus I think the more examples of non-straight relationships people see, the more they'll grasp that love and desire and vulnerability and all the other parts of relationships are simply human feelings, not straight ones or gay ones. And that you can be happy for someone else even if what they're into isn't your thing.

(I can't not include a photo from Maurice when discussing this topic. And here, Willow and Tara too, for the women's side.)

mollyringle: (Vettriano - umbrella - by c_sharp_icons)
This is a first (for me). Publishers Weekly ran a write-up of one of my books! It’s the third in the series and the review is spoilerific for the whole trilogy, so don’t click through if you want to avoid that. But here is the fabulous take-away quote that I’ll be posting everywhere: “Ringle provides a thoroughly satisfying thread-tying conclusion.”

Thank you, PW!!



(GIF from http://avatarreactiongifs.tumblr.com/. Because I now know to credit my GIFs.)
mollyringle: (Hughes - Night)
I wrote a guest post! Go see:

Because magic: why I write fantasy and paranormal

Excerpt:

...the rules, restrictions, price, and effects of magic get to be completely zany. That’s the fun of it. Yes, this character can turn into a wolf, but never a bat or anything else; that’s just the rule. Yes, you can reverse this evil spell, but only if you accomplish these three bizarre tasks before sunrise. Sorry, but those are the conditions. Yes, you can enter and leave the supernatural realm safely, as long as you don’t eat or drink anything while you’re there, because then you’d be bound to it. Them’s the rules!

You’ve read fairy tales; you know this is how it always goes. The magic is dreamlike in its nonsense logic, but that’s kind of why we love it. Maybe it works for us because real life doesn’t actually make very good sense either, if we’re honest, so why not turn fully surreal and flex some imagination while we’re at it?


Many thanks to the lovely, funny, and talented Australian author Dean Mayes for hosting me there. Go look up his books too--he's got an intriguing variety of styles and I always enjoy diving into his stories.
mollyringle: (Gutenberg)
First off, if you have a Goodreads account, please go click "like" at the bottom of this fabulous review! Rachel Alexander is the author of new Persephone/Hades novels that are skyrocketing to popularity, and I'm delighted she liked my take on the subject. Check out her books too--I recently read the first one, and it was gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the second.

Second, speaking of writing, this quotation spoke to me...



This is true, and unavoidable, and actually kind of reassuring if you think about it. But I think my friends feel let down when they tell me they're going to try writing fiction, and I tell them something like this. ("Great! Listen, it'll suck at first, but that's normal, so just let it.") They want me to tell them how to skip the unpleasantness and get to the good writing. I'd like that shortcut too, but there isn't one. As with many difficult things in life, there's no way around; the only way is through.
mollyringle: (girl reading with moon)
Little Free Libraries: You've probably seen these cute quirky wooden structures in your neighborhood. Here in Seattle everyone's kind of crazy about them; they're popping up on every other street, and my husband is now putting the finishing touches on one for our sidewalk too, since I'm so fond of them.

I always enjoy browsing them when I'm on walks, and discovering a new one is a special treat. Lately one thing I've also been doing is to leave copies of my own books in them. I figure it's good promotion--gets the title in front of people, and lets them try out the book for free. Plus, if I'm going to enrich any neighborhood with free books, I might as well start with my own. Stay local (or at least start local), and all that.

Now, yes, this means I'm paying for my author copies and then not getting any money in return for them. It's basically a donation, a promotional expense. However! I also reckon it counts as an exchange. As the signs on these libraries say, you get to take a book and leave a book. So in exchange for leaving one of mine, I can take one of the others if it looks good. I've found lots of delightful reads that way, books I'd never heard of before. Sometimes they're for my own reading pleasure, and sometimes I pick up ones I think my kids or husband would like. The inventory is guaranteed to be random, but I end up enjoying the chance aspect of it.

What's especially gratifying: when I later walk past those Little Free Libraries, my books are almost always gone from them. I'm pleased to know they have enough shelf appeal to get grabbed by those who stop and browse.

Occasionally I've also sent books to friends in other cities who were interested in donating them to Little Free Libraries in their areas. So here is their photo evidence: Persephone's Orchard in a library in Springfield, Oregon:



And Underworld's Daughter in a library along the Erie Canal in upstate New York:

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