mollyringle: (Default)
Something I've been pondering: when reading fantasy, how far do you like authors to veer from established traditions for a supernatural creature? If we're dealing with vampires, say, then they can't NOT drink blood. They aren't vampires unless they do. But can the author change other traditions and still make it work for you? It seems to have been voted a bad idea to decide they sparkle in sunlight instead of burning up, so apparently readers do have limits. :D

I'm not actually pondering vampires, though. For my own current idea-in-progress I'm thinking about faery lore. For example, how attached are people to the notion that iron repels fae? Is that a tradition readers like to see, or one they're tired of seeing? When it comes to faeries, what features are you tired of reading about, and what features must be included or else it isn't properly fae for you?

mollyringle: (Default)

The more I read of currently popular fantasy, the more dismayed I am that there tends to be such a huge focus on weaponry and fighting and the protagonists being (or becoming) martial arts geniuses. I stick with some of these books anyway if, such as in The Hunger Games, they're written really well and the plot and characters are compelling. But I've got to admit that violence and weaponry and action scenes are really not my favorite things. They're never the parts I re-read for pleasure (that would be the love declarations, or some particularly amusing exchanges or incidents, or passages of beautiful writing describing something magical). I don't particularly like writing fighting-and-weapons scenes either, though sometimes I find I have to, given the way I've set things up. So now I'm pondering how to set up a fantasy book so I can spend as little time as possible in violent weapon-related scenes and still create a really good read.

I think this is actually what appeals to me about the Harry Potter world, and also stories like Howl's Moving Castle: we get a lot of time to hang out in the magic world and enjoy it, and when there's fighting, it's almost solely with spells and with using one's brain. When Hermione actually uses her fist to hit Draco, it's all the more startling and satisfying that way. Except I want to write for grown-ups more than for kids. So, yeah. Pondering this, and I see from forum discussions like this that others have pondered it too.

mollyringle: (Default)
 We have gotten lots of advance reviews for The Goblins of Bellwater, and I must sincerely thank those who have taken on the ARC for review, since we're now actually taking your views into consideration and making a few adjustments. As of June 16, we've posted a new ARC over on NetGalley. It's a new situation for us--like having another and very large group of beta readers--and in some ways it feels like cheating to change things based on prevailing opinions among them. However, when they're changes we agree with (which they are), we're happy to make them and improve the final edition of the work. So, thank you, intrepid ARC readers! I really like how this book has shaped up.

But yeah, it's true what some reviews say: I'm afraid this isn't Labyrinth and these are not Bowie-esque goblins that you fall in love with. So don't go in expecting that or you will still be disappointed.

mollyringle: (Default)
I am finally reading The Secret Garden, one of my all-time childhood favorites, to my own kids. I've been almost reluctant to do so, since I wasn't sure they'd like it, but I'm pleased to find they do so far, and that the writing has held up wonderfully over time. It's crisp and wry and intriguing, and a delight to read aloud.



It's no wonder I love it, since as many people have noted, it's essentially Jane Eyre for children--lonely girl arriving at big house on the moors with a lot of shut-up rooms and mysterious goings-on, and ultimately finding love there, though in a familial and friendship way here rather than romantic. And of course it adds in the redemptive powers of gardening and fresh air, which anyone ought to be able to get behind.

A few years ago I did finally read A Little Princess by the same author, and liked that too, but not quite to the same level of love that I hold for The Secret Garden. I think that's not only because of the Gothic-lite appeal of the setting in the latter, but because of protagonist relatability: much as I wish I were like the saintly Sara Crewe (of A Little Princess), I am undeniably far more a Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. I feel ya, Mary Lennox.
mollyringle: (chocolate)

Everyone knows what Valentine's Day is really about: chocolate!

I ran a search on my books, and predictably enough, nearly all of them mention chocolate. Some examples:

Summer Term:
He set down the glass, thought a moment, and said, “I would like to make chocolate chip cookies.”

Persephone’s Orchard:
Adrian peeled the plastic wrap from the brownie, broke it in half, and handed the larger section to her.

Immortal’s Spring:
Must be the scents and nourishment of a proper home-cooked meal at last. And the wine. And the chocolate cake—from scratch.

Of Ghosts and Geeks:
When Gwen heard the knock, she imagined it was a local kid selling fundraiser chocolate bars, or Uncle Bert dropping in to beg more details about her “student’s” ghost.

The Ghost Downstairs:
“But he did. He had chocolate with me.” Lina closed her mouth before disclosing what happened after the chocolate.

What Scotland Taught Me: (To my surprise this one has the most references to chocolate of any of my stories. Here are a few.)

“Can we just get some chocolate,” I said, “and go home?”

“Be a dear and serve your boyfriend some chocolate trifle, won’t you?”

Coffee, I needed coffee. No, better yet, chocolate. Chocolate might put my calendar in perspective.

“I was wondering if an old friend could stay at your flat tonight, if that friend brought like a cubic buttload of Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars.”

Valentine’s Day resolved nothing. That afternoon apparently featured Amber wearing lingerie and chocolate body paint in Laurence’s room, and still not getting laid.

---
My apologies for the damage this post may have done to anyone trying to cut calories.



mollyringle: (Gutenberg)
12.     Read! Lots! And review. Nicely.

This one’s easy, because (I would hope) you’re already doing it: read! Read books you love, whatever they are. I won’t go as far as some advice-givers go, and tell you to read mainly books in the genre you want to write in. I think it’s more important to read books that captivate you for any reason. That way you’ll not only be enjoying your reading time, but you’ll hone your unique voice, which is fed by the specific collection of interests that only you possess.

When you finish a book, review it online. Goodreads is a useful place for this, as of course are Amazon and B&N and Kobo and iTunes and…well, wherever you bought the book would likely be a good place to review it, but mirroring the review on other sites is a nice touch if you have the time. This not only gives you a handy record of what you’ve read and what your impressions of it were, but it serves as a bit of marketing for you as an online book-related person. People might like your review and look up the stuff you’ve written.

THEREFORE: look, I can’t dictate to you what to do. But in your reviews I strongly suggest you avoid snark and trash-talk. If a book didn’t work for you, find the nicest way possible to say so, and even with those books, try to include a line about what your favorite part was. I mean, think about it: when you rip other people’s books to shreds, anyone reading your review is going to expect some pretty fabulous material from your pen if you hold such lofty ideals of literature. Can you live up to that? If you don’t, are you ready to get equally dumped on by people reviewing your stuff?

Now, unfortunately, people might trash your work even if you’ve been 100% nice in reviews. It happens. It hurts. It sucks. But at least you can take some comfort in having the moral high ground, which, seriously, a lot of people will respect you for. Be the class act.

Exception I will grant you: if a book has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has thousands of heart-eyed five-star reviews, and you just don’t get it, you can say so a little more flatly. I admit I did this with the third Twilight book, for example. But even then, I recommend holding back from a full-out immature rantfest. You’ll thank yourself later.

Anyway, go read books! Enjoy them! Final hint: if you aren’t enjoying a book, don’t finish it. Stop halfway, DON’T leave a review, and move on to something new. There. Happier already, right?
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:

---

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.

---

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: (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: (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.

---

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.

---

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?

---

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... )

---

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!

----

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: (Hogwarts)

So I'm re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in order to (finally!) round out my condensed parody collection. And here was this I came across at the start of chapter 16:

"Hermione had actually progressed to vanishing kittens"

Another item for the list of times the Hogwarts curriculum really disturbs me. Making KITTENS VANISH FOREVER? How is this okay, and not Unforgivable? Or even if it's okay under wonky wizarding ethics, how is it fine with Hermione, who gets all up in arms about house-elves' rights? Apparently the Vanishing spell doesn't just make things invisible, either; it sends them into "non-being." So that's better than Avada Kedavra...how?

And the book even says they were moving up from Vanishing snails to Vanishing mammals, because mammals are much more difficult to Vanish, so therefore the POINT in this class is to learn how to make living creatures vanish forever. When are they planning to use that? Defense against bear attacks? Surely Stunning is more ethical there. (And then why don't they just Vanish Umbridge or Voldemort...ha...)

It's a messed-up school, all right. But I guess it still makes for a good story.

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...

---



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: (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: (Kimberley)
Following up on Kaitlin Bevis' post, here's the guest post I wrote on Adonis for her blog! Come have a read.

And since I just finished reading Aphrodite, her latest, here is a roundup of my reviews of Kaitlin's Daughters of Zeus series:

Book 1: Persephone

Persephone is a fun, imaginative, smart retelling of my favorite myth, fusing modern culture with a rich world of magic. I had such a great time reading this. I ate it up in just a few days. With its irreverent sense of humor and its intelligent references, it reminds me most of Joss Whedon, in particular the livelier, funnier seasons of "Buffy" or "Angel."
Read my whole review here

Book 2: Daughter of the Earth and Sky

A satisfying continuation of this series, and I remain fully infatuated with Hades, who is so adorable here (but in a dark and rather dangerous kind of way, of course). The magic/gods system in this one includes globally big powers and equally big problems, so young Persephone has her hands full, especially since she's tangled up in one of those really nasty "under a spell where I can't talk about being under a spell" kind of spells. Plus the genuinely scary Reapers are torturing her for fun. And it doesn't help that Aphrodite has shown up and is sometimes talking her into some questionable activities...
Read my whole review here

Book 3: The Iron Queen

The adventure continues, and it's big stuff! The Greek deities, often at odds with each other, now have to band together for the task of taking on Zeus, who's holding Persephone captive in a bid to acquire the power of the Underworld. Zeus, whom you might know as some heroic leader of gods from other sources (*cough*DisneyHercules*cough*), is in this series more like his actual self from mythology, which is to say, a dangerous, selfish, devious sociopath.
Read my whole review here

Book 4: Aphrodite
Aphrodite.jpg
It’d be easy to dislike the “Barbie Goddess,” as one character calls her—she’s physically perfect, she’s occasionally clueless, she may often come off as shallow and self-serving...she’s, well, Aphrodite. But I thought Kaitlin Bevis did a marvelous job with the character, showing us her suffering and fears, all of which are inseparable from her recent origin as a creation of Zeus’, made specifically to do his bidding. Now Zeus is gone, but Aphrodite’s left with the nightmares. She’s unbalanced, and unsure what to do with her freedom.

To get the other gods to trust and like her a little better, which they haven’t entirely so far, she volunteers to help solve the latest divine mystery: namely, why some demigods have been disappearing. The mission takes her onto a cruise ship, where she winds up sharing a room with the demigod Adonis, and as you can guess, there the fun begins!
Read my whole review here
mollyringle: (Kimberley)

This weekend I'm pleased to run a guest post from author Kaitlin Bevis! (We writers of Persephone/Hades love-story retellings have to stick together, you know.) She's got a new book out in her Daughters of Zeus series: Aphrodite.



And by the way, wow, do I love that cover art. Gorgeous.

So without further ado, here is Kaitlin, on the delectable topic of Adonis.

---

Hi there!
I'm Kaitlin Bevis, author of the Daughters of Zeus series. My most recent book, Aphrodite, featured many characters you'd be familiar with from Molly's Chrysomelia Stories. One of which was Adonis.

Adonis is a fascinating character in Greek Mythology. So it's not surprising that both Molly Ringle and I feature Adonis heavily in our Greek Mythology retellings.

What surprised me were the similarities.

The original* Adonis myth goes something like this:

Adonis was inbred to the extreme. His line starts with Galatia (as in Pygmalion's statue) and continues to his mother Myrrha, who managed to piss Aphrodite off by not worshiping her enough. Aphrodite cursed Myrrha by giving Myrrha the hots for her father. Myrrha tricked her father and seduced him with the help of her nanny (seriously, don't ask for details).

Her dad freaked out, and tried to have her killed, but Myrrha fled and was turned into a Myrrh tree by some sympathetic gods. Why the gods were so convinced life as a tree was preferable to death is a mystery for another day. Anyway, nine months later, Adonis popped up beneath the tree either by way of an arrow, boar's tusks, or tree labor with helpful nymphs. Aphrodite immediately fell for the infant, possibly thanks to Cupid.

She handed Adonis off to Persephone for safekeeping, but Persephone ended up falling in love with him too. The women went to Zeus so he could settle the dispute, and Zeus declared that Adonis spend four months wherever he want, four months with Aphrodite, and four months with Persephone every year.

Most myths agree that Adonis spent eight months with Aphrodite, but some (mostly Shakespeare) contend that he was ambivalent to her attentions, preferring the joy of hunting and killing things to the company of the goddess who got his mother turned into a tree.

One day, while hunting, he was gutted by a wild boar that was possibly sent by Ares out of jealousy, or by Artemis for revenge for Aphrodite getting one of her worshipers killed, or by Apollo for sheer randomness. Aphrodite cradled Adonis in her lap as he died and flowers (anemone to be precise) sprang up where his body rested. His blood is also believed to turn the Adonis River red every year.

The people who lived in the region of the Adonis River celebrated Adonis as a Dying and Rising God. They held a yearly funeral for Adonis when the river ran red and mourned, then the next day they celebrated his return to life and ascension to the heavens.

There were bits and pieces of the classic Adonis myth in both retellings, and we both took extensive liberties with the story. Naturally there were many differences and reversals between our Adonis's. My Aphrodite pined for an uninterested Adonis a la Shakespeare, Molly's Adonis pined for Aphrodite. My Adonis is always pushing those around him to the moral high ground. He has really strong views on what's right and fair, and, yeah, he’s a bit of a stick in the mud. Molly’s is the original party animal. But despite these major differences, their core personalities seemed really similar. Which is insane if you read the myths. Greek mythology didn’t give us a lot to work with when it came to characterizing Adonis. He is very much the object of his myths, not a person.

Another crazy similarity is that we both came back to Adonis being restored after his death and took it one step further. My Adonis (major spoiler warning) comes back as Eros (Aphrodite is the one who turned him from demigod to god in my book, so it made sense to me to make him her “son”), and Molly’s as Dionysus.

Now, our books were being written at the same time, so there’s no chance we influenced each other. Kind of makes you wonder about the nature of inspiration. Where do these stories come from?

Did you read both books? What were your thoughts on the two Adonis’s?

* Calling any particular myth original is problematic. Greek myths featured heavily in oral retellings and the stories evolved and changed over space and time. There are many contradictory details as the myths worked their way through the world. If you see a detail that conflicts with your recollection of the myth, it is likely you were exposed to a slightly different version.

* * *


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: (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!

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