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)

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: (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: (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: (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:

mollyringle: (Maurice & Clive)

I dread being controversial or political online, but I want honest and sincere thoughts on this, with as few in the way of flame wars as possible. My question is more or less: if you’re not a member of a certain minority, do you get to write about it? Since I’m a novelist, I’m thinking in terms more of fiction here than nonfiction or journalism.

On the “no” side, the argument is basically (I’ll just quote this blog post here), “It is not the place of a cis straight person to represent the LGBTA community in order to claim progressive thinking on their part. … By all means we should be allies and make all efforts to be diverse in our work, but we should not seek to take their stories from them when there are so many creators from the LGBTA community who go ignored in favor of mainstream medium, and who would give a far more accurate account and portrayal of their stories. The same goes for race. In that instance, write what you know is applicable.”*

Fair enough. But on the “yes” side, which I admit is the side I’ve been working from all these years, the argument is: assuming the portrayal is done with as much taste, compassion, and realistic accuracy as the author can scrounge up (as opposed to using stereotypes or playing the characters’ culture/orientation/etc. for laughs), then surely it’s better to have more types of characters in more books, no matter what background the author comes from.

Even though I’m white and heterosexual and middle-class and American and therefore boringly generic and privileged in most ways, I recognize the problem of ethnic minorities and LGBTQ characters being underrepresented in entertainment. Plus I’m honestly into some of the stories that could be told with such characters (I’ve long squealed in delight over slash fiction, as nearly all of you know), so I want to write about them. I have this perhaps naïve hope that if someone reads a book that gets them (the readers) thinking more kindly about types of people they didn’t think about very much before, and gets them seeing more types of people as fellow humans with equal status to themselves, then hurray! The book has done something worthwhile! And it doesn’t really matter who the author is, in that case.

In fact, I’m the self-effacing type of author who doesn’t want you to think about ME; I want you to notice just my stories, my characters. It isn’t about me. This becomes a problem when it’s time to get out there and market my work in person with bright smiles, which is a task that sucks the life force out of me, but I digress.

So am I wrong? Should I be respectfully backing off and allowing “those groups” to tell their own stories? I certainly encourage anyone to do so who wants to, and I don’t want those stories to be ignored in favor of mine just because I’m white and privileged and stuff (though given my superbly modest sales figures, I really don’t think anyone’s favoring my work over others, so honestly I doubt this is currently a problem).

In my Greek myth series, I have some gay or bi characters, and others I picture as black or mixed-race. I don’t make A Big Thing of it for the most part; they’re just character details, mentioned alongside what color clothes they wear or what kind of salads they prefer or whether they like loud parties. (As an introvert, I found it WAY easier to write the gay or bi aspects of characters than to write Tabitha’s extroversion--she’s the reincarnated Dionysos, and loves organizing and attending parties, and drinking and being loud. I can’t comprehend being like that. But love and crushes, sure, I get those.)

I do try to avoid stereotypes. I’d rather a book didn’t include any gay characters than have it include one who lisped and called everyone “sweetie” and wore glasses with pink glittery frames. Same goes for all the ethnic-group issues you could run up against. I imagine, if anything, I err on the side of my black characters being too much like the white ones, such that you might not even know they’re black. But then, I also went that route because for the purposes of this story, it doesn’t exactly matter what their genetic makeup is. Also, a friendly mix of races and cultures is part of the new global civilization, and I feel like we do get to be casual about it, as long as we’re compassionate to everyone.

The one “minority” I belong to is that of women, and I’ll go on record as saying I have nothing at all against male authors who write in depth about female characters. In fact, I think more of them should, as long as they follow the guidelines discussed above: avoid stereotypes, view everyone as a human with equal rights and personal subtleties, be as fair and realistic as you can.

Anyway. The more I ramble about this, the more I realize it could be an entire doctoral thesis (and I’m sure it has been for lots of people), so I’ll leave it at that. But I welcome anyone’s thoughts! If you’re gay or trans, does it bother you if straight/cis people write LGBTQ characters? If you’re black or Latino or Asian (or fill in the blank), does it bother you if generic white people write about your ethnic group?

Further good reading on the topic: Why I Am Scared to Write About Diversity, by Cait at Paper Fury

* I do love this quote from that same post, though:

“ 'You should only ever write what you know.'— Whenever I read advice like this I can’t help but feel like Mary Shelley had some fucking weird anatomy classes I never got at school, and that I’d like to try whatever Tolkien was having." Ha! Quite so.

mollyringle: (fruit)

“I got good marks in social science, bad marks in maths, my favorite color is green, and are you falling asleep with boredom yet?” - Adrian, Persephone's Orchard

I bet exactly no one has ever noticed this, but I have this color thing going on with the Hades and Persephone characters. I represent Hades with purple, because it's a dusk-sky color but also a royal/wealth color, and apparently was an expensive dye back in the day. Then I represent Persephone with green, because, well, that's a no-brainer in a spring goddess.

But I mixed and matched those to complement each other. So in the old days, Hades wears a dark purple cloak as befits his wealthy station, but Persephone chooses an amethyst (purple) from the Underworld gems to wear as a necklace, and violets are her favorite flower, and Hades wears a green rope belt. And in modern times, Sophie likes purple, the Hades color (I mention her cell phone case being purple, and so is her favorite sweater); and Adrian likes green, the Persephone color (he wears it sometimes, along with of course black).

Also I just like how green and purple look together. See also: Dionysos, purple grapes and green grapevines.

mollyringle: (perfume ad)
In fragrance-loving forums, a common game is to post a photo of someone--perhaps a celebrity, perhaps a selfie or friend of a forum member--and ask everyone to scent them; that is, choose a perfume for them based on what they look like.

Now, very few people are going to care about this, but for my own entertainment, I'm going to do this with the main characters of my Greek mythology series (Persephone's Orchard and its sequels). Even if you haven't read it, you likely know the gods from other sources. (There's this writer named Homer, and this other one named Riordan, and...anyway.) Mind you, in ancient times, none of these perfumes were available and people would actually have been wearing scents made from herbs and spices and the like. Apparently the Minoans used ingredients like mint, coriander, and fennel for the purpose, for example. But we'll ignore anachronism and use modern scents anyway.

Caveat: I can of course only assign scents that I have personally smelled. So that limits things. But feel free to suggest others if you have ideas.

I'll stick to the Greek god names and not use the characters' reincarnated names, just to avoid spoilers and confusion. So:

Hades: Black by Comme des Garçons. A clever idea for perfume, and one that makes me think "god of the Underworld": they based it on things black in color--tar, pepper, incense, smoke, licorice, etc. At first I found it strange, but the spice mix grew on me to the degree that I came around to finding this scent comforting and sexy. And definitely dark and masculine.

Persephone: A few possibilities come to mind. One is Melograno Selvatico by I Profumi di Firenze, because its name translates to "woody pomegranate," though to my nose it's mostly a clean fruity-floral that isn't particularly pomegranate-ish. Another is Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens, a lovely natural feminine skin scent with the suggestion of forest, fruits, and flowers behind it. And another is L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque: a simple but melancholy rose and blackcurrant--because gardens and a "shadow in the water" do sound rather kidnapping-myth, right?

Hermes: Conveniently, there is a perfume house called Hermès already, so naturally I think of their scents for our dear trickster. There are lots to choose from, but the ones I like best (for him and for me) are the urbane and super-sexy Bel Ami, or the somewhat more rugged Rocabar.

Hekate: Got to go with beautiful mysterious incense on this one. There are lots of awesome incense scents, but the one that makes me think of Hekate is L'Artisan's Passage d'Enfer. It has the cool dank stone of a cathedral (or an Underworld), a lightweight frankincense, and a contemplative and elusive quality throughout.

Dionysos: Ideally something wine-scented, of course. But that actually isn't easy to find in the perfume world, or at least I'm coming up mostly blank on it. So I'll look instead at Dionysos' rock-star-party-god aspect and scent him in the naughty-sweaty Eau d'Hermès. As someone on one of those fragrance forums said, it's suggestive of Jim Morrison's leather pants, so that's pretty Dionysian.

Aphrodite: Ah, now this is difficult. My instinct says she's got a huge perfume collection, so she can smell enticing in a thousand different ways. In my books I do say at one point that her reincarnated self smells of a smoky vanilla perfume, and one that fits the bill for that is Smell Bent's Incensed. But yeah. I think, you name a sexy scent, she can smell like it.

Poseidon and Amphitrite: Oltre by Laura Tonatto. This perfume smells like ocean in a very real-life and non-perfume kind of way: salt on chilly stones, seaweed, kelp, wind-torn scrubby pines on the shore, the whole deal. It may actually give the impression of too cold an ocean, more like our Washington state beaches than the Mediterranean, but until I visit the Mediterranean and smell it firsthand, this idea will have to stand in.

That will do for now. And, of course, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has perfumes for all kinds of deities, including several of the above. I just haven't tried them yet. 
mollyringle: (Caillebotte - Rainy Day)

I feel like I should post something. Summer kind of melts my brain, though, especially when it's been as hot as Seattle has been this year. We got virtually none of our beautiful "June gloom," the layer of clouds we usually get that keeps it cool and keeps summer officially away until the 5th of July. Instead, this year, not only did it not rain on the 4th of July (sacrilege! It must rain on the 4th of July in Puget Sound!), it was hot all that week, all of June, and all last weekend. We've had almost no rain at all. The grass is already scorched to stiff, dry brown. Leaves are turning yellow and falling off trees. It's like a lovely September afternoon...but it's July.

For the first time ever in all my lifetime in the Pacific Northwest, I caved and bought an air conditioner. Last weekend when it was 98 degrees out (aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhh), we did a lot of standing in front of it. (When you feel like snickering at our idea of "hot" up here, keep in mind very few of us have any A/C, and in fact our houses are more designed to trap heat in than to let it out. So it quickly got to the mid-80s indoors here with no way to cool off--until we got the A/C, that is. But it only really cools off one room at a time.)

BUT now it's cloudy and mid-60s again. Whew. So perhaps I can perhaps think once more.

Tidbits of good news:

The Seattle Public Library finally carries one of my books!

I showed my kids the 2003 Peter Pan movie, and they liked it. In fact, the younger one has been watching it again for a couple days in a row. I, being a girl, still adore the non-canon kiss they added. Peter spiraling up into the sky afterward, literally glowing and with a face-splitting smile, captures youthful post-kiss feelings so beautifully. Even if he's not supposed to want to grow up. ;)

Latest fermentation experiment: I'm trying homemade lacto-fermented juice. The ginger bug is made and bubbling nicely, and I've just added it to orange juice. Wish the good bugs luck.

Not a lot of big trips going on for us this summer, but we do plan at least to get to mountains and coast at various times.

Writing (starting a new novel). Reading (all kinds of stuff). Learning mindfulness (some days go better than others).

So. Happy summer!

mollyringle: (Gutenberg)

I have completed a first (sloppy but complete) draft of the third book in the Persephone series! And yes, this will be the final book in the series, unless I do a spinoff someday, so it will for now wrap up as a tidy trilogy. Therefore, if you're the type of person who doesn't like embarking on reading a series that's yet unfinished--and I understand if you are, because I tend that direction myself--then it's okay, you can start mine now.

The title is likely to be...

If it were a stand-alone, I'd go with Immortal Spring, but to line up in nice parallel fashion with Persephone's Orchard and Underworld's Daughter, we're tacking on the singular possessive.

The first draft is now in the hands of my fantabulous beta readers, so they can help make it as un-dumb as possible. This is one of the fun parts. I haven't yet been over the manuscript so many times that I want to burn it. That comes later.

Meanwhile, you can add it to your shelves on Goodreads, though there isn't much to the listing there yet.


mollyringle: (Gutenberg)
I’ve been keeping my head down and writing, which is why you haven’t heard from me in a while. The news there is that I do plan to wrap up the Persephone series as a trilogy this year, with the completion of book 3, and I’m nearly done with a first draft. Hurray! But revisions and editing always take a while, so in the meantime you’ll need something else to read.

Luckily I have a lot of author friends with new books out. All of them come from small or independent publishing and thus can use your word of mouth; and, more importantly, they’re all lovely people whom I’ve known for years, in person or online, so I can assure you they’ve earned your business. Please look them up!

Historical romance: Olivia Fields, Her Heart’s Liege. New release: currently $0.99 on Kindle and Nook. You know that trope about the sheltered, spoiled princess getting saved (and changed) by the stoic swordsman? Fields does a fun gender-flip on it, giving us a romance between a sheltered, spoiled prince and a stoic swordswoman, in a medieval fairy-tale-ish setting. I just started reading it, and am loving it!
Amazon, B&N

Young adult paranormal: Pam Stucky, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse. Two teenagers encounter aliens, ghosts, and time travel, all from within a lighthouse on a little Pacific Northwest island. Described as A Wrinkle in Time meets Doctor Who - what’s not to like?
Amazon, B&N

Paranormal romance: Cyndi Tefft, the Between series. Through an afterlife loophole, a modern young woman falls in love with an 18th-century Scotsman, and paranormal fun and angst ensue. Sacrifice of Greatest Price, book 4 and the final book in the series, is coming out soon, so now’s a good time to start on the first one if you haven’t yet!
Amazon, B&N

Literary fiction/romance with magic twist: Ellen Ekstrom, Tallis’ Third Tune. A love story between a historian and a musician, told out of sequence, and spiced up by visits to a quirky afterlife village peopled with historical personages. This book and its companion/sequel (Scarborough) are poignant and beautiful without being depressing like so much literary fiction is.
Amazon, B&N

Historical romance: Abbie Williams, Heart of a Dove. In post-Civil-War America, a young woman sold into prostitution finds love and redemption among a small band of Confederate soldiers fleeing west in search of a better life. Has a great “Western” feel—lots of horseback rides and prairie sunsets. Abbie’s written tons of great contemporary fiction too, so if you like her style, there’s more waiting for you!

In the meantime, feel free to send me any recommendations you particularly loved. My to-be-read list is absurdly long, but I can’t help loving to browse books and add to it all the same.
mollyringle: (Kimberley)
RomCon is a pretty darn big convention of romance writers and readers, so I figured it was worth entering Persephone's Orchard in their annual contest--and am now delighted that it's been announced as a 2014 Readers' Crown Finalist in the paranormal category!

All the sub-genres have fairly long lists of finalists, and paranormal is no exception, but I'm still stoked to have made it into the company of these fine writers. Here are all the finalist titles for the paranormal category, in case you'd like to look a few up for fun summer reading:

Aileen Harkwood ~ Dangerous Dreams
Alicia Sparks ~ Primitive Fix
Angela Campbell ~ Something Wicked
Ashley Robertson ~ Death Dealer
Brenda Dyer ~ Prophecy's Child
Caryn Moya Block ~ A Siberian Werewolf In Paris
Dena Garson ~ Ghostly Persuasion
Erin Quinn ~ The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love
Holley Trent ~ A Demon in Waiting
Jessie Donovan ~ Blaze of Secrets
Jody A Kessler ~ Death Lies Between Us
J.M. Kelley ~ Almost Magic
Kathryn Knight ~ Gull Harbor
Lisa Kessler ~ Moonlight
Lynn Cahoon ~ Return of the Fae
L. A. Kelley ~ The Naughty List
Molly Ringle ~ Persephone's Orchard
M.L. Guida ~ A Pirate's Curse
Shelli Rosewarne ~ Love Reawakened
Suza Kates ~ Suffering of a Witch
Suzzana C Ryan ~ Before I Wake My Soul to Take
Torie James ~ Timeless Night
Zoey Derrick ~ Give Me Reason
Zoey Derrick ~ Give Me Hope

Congratulations to all, and gigantic thanks to those who gave my book good enough marks to get it into the above company!
mollyringle: (couple w/ umbrella on street)
I greatly admired this post in defense of the "unlikable" female character.

"We forgive our heroes even when they’re drunken, aimless brutes or flawed noir figures who smoke too much and can’t hold down a steady relationship. In truth, we both sympathize with and celebrate these heroes... But what we love about many male heroes – their complexity, their confidence, their occasional bouts of selfish whim –become, in female heroes, marks of the dreaded 'unlikeable character.'"

Fits with my experience with fiction reviews. I write about flawed humans, male and female, but when reviewers complain about not finding one of my characters likable enough, nine times out of ten it's a female character they're picking on. And not for lack of flawed male ones. It's an interesting experiment, or challenge, to ask yourself when reading, "What would I think of this character if s/he were the opposite sex? And why?"

In related news, my own novel-writing is going well. Just emailed my beta readers a draft of book 2 of the Chrysomelia Stories (that is, the Persephone series), which will likely be titled Underworld's Daughter. Hurray! It does bring in some new characters, most of them female, and I'm hoping I've made them complex enough that you are free to find them likable or unlikable as you see fit.
mollyringle: (Willow - Hi - by aom_leiconz)
My favorite influences, of the moment, for series that do a good job juggling large casts, humor, angst/tragedy, romance, a teen angle, and a strong supernatural element: the Harry Potter books, the Buffy TV series, and the Avatar: the Last Airbender series.

Why I mention this:
This Greek myth series has been giving me a writing experience I've rarely had: that of handling a large cast, over a sprawling amount of time, with lots of subplots and embedded smaller stories. (Thus "The Chrysomelia Stories" instead of "The Chrysomelia Series.")

You know that feeling when you're watching a TV series and thinking, "What ever happened to Person X, or that development we haven't heard anything about since the beginning of the season? What's going on with those?" Well, I now understand how the writers are probably answering, "We're BUSY, okay? There's all this other stuff to deal with!" So I shall try not to drop any threads or subplots utterly, but it's a complicated matter, and I have new respect for the writers and editors who organize such things into a coherent whole.
mollyringle: (Hughes - Night)
A couple of years ago, as the spring equinox approached, I wrote a short piece about Persephone digging herself out to get the season going. Today is the autumn equinox, and I've finally written a corresponding piece about her descending back to the Underworld. There. We now have a pair of equinox bookends.

I should note that these two vignettes do not feature the same Persephone and Hades that I've written about in Persephone's Orchard. The Persephone and Hades shown here are more magical and more connected to the seasons, have a much more tentative marriage, and in general are more like the gods in the myths. Enjoy, and happy equinox!


Persephone treads the forest path alone. Twilight is falling earlier now, just after dinner, and the air is turning cold. She glances at the jewels on her rings and sandals, but so far they aren't lighting up to brighten her way. They haven't sensed the Underworld and Hades yet.

She has said goodbye to her mother for the summer, which is always sad for both of them, and the poignancy has radiated out into the world. A cold wind blows at her back and shoots through the forest. It desiccates green leaves, turning them brown and red and yellow and sending them swirling to the ground. Good thing she and Demeter snipped all the frost-sensitive herbs this morning and hung them up in the kitchen to dry.

Over the past six months, they've also banished apple blights, blessed grape arbors and wheat fields, celebrated the birth of lambs and calves, and attended about a thousand and one harvest festivals. Honestly, Persephone's sick of making fresh grapevine wreaths for her head every day. Switching those for one sturdy jeweled crown, which needs no maintenance except the occasional quick polish, is fine with her. Read more... )
mollyringle: (Willow - Hi - by aom_leiconz)
Her gaze landed upon a young man across the room in a dark purple cloak, his beard clipped short, his curly black hair braided back and adorned with a wreath of ivy—much less showy than the bright spring flowers Persephone and the others wore in honor of the equinox. He stood apart from the others, squinting against the bright sun as he gazed out the window at the sea.

Soon he turned his head and noticed her. The brooding expression on his face evaporated as he regarded her, an appreciative smile taking its place. Truly, he was quite beautiful. They gazed at each other a moment longer than was proper. A pleasant flutter danced in Persephone’s belly. Was he an immortal? Gold did seem to glint beneath the ivy, as if the vines were twined around one of the gods’ crowns.

Then she recognized him. Hades.
- Persephone's Orchard

* * *

On Hades' purple cloak: in early versions I had him in black robes, as black sounds appropriate for the god of the dead. But online research suggests black cloth was hard to obtain in ancient (and in this case prehistoric) Greece. Dyes required a lot of effort and frequently expense, and black was difficult to make. White wool was the basic material for clothing. Nonetheless, Greeks liked their colors where they could get them, and in addition to adding pretty embroidery to the hems, they did seem to have some reliable dyes. Purple was one of the most expensive. Hence Hades, with his access to the gemstones falling out of the Underworld's walls, could afford it.

But real historians should jump in here to correct any misinformation. We can make adjustments in the next volume.
mollyringle: (blue moon - by pear_icons)
I have succumbed to what I thought was the time-wasting madness but turns out to be more like the hypnotic relaxation. Yes, I am talking about Pinterest! I am not the kind of person who tacks physical pages to physical boards as a method of organization or inspiration, so I was reluctant to join that site. But if anyone had told me how lovely and QUIET it is on Pinterest, I would have joined sooner. There is an option for leaving comments, but most of the time, no one does so. You just silently view, pin, and repin things. It's like wandering through an art gallery: everyone maturely and quietly taking in the pretty pictures, and not filling the air (or rather, the screen) with snark and chatter. Did I mention I like how quiet it is?

Anyway, these are my Pinterest boards so far, several of which are related to Persephone's Orchard. For example, you can see locations used in the novel (Knossos on Crete, Mary's Peak in Oregon, and more), and ideas for casting, and pretty Hades/Persephone artwork I've found online.

If you have a Pinterest account, go ahead and follow me, and I'll be happy to follow you back. Keep in mind I have little idea what I'm doing over there so far. But Pinterest is quiet and pretty! And I like that!
mollyringle: (Hughes - Night)

It's release day for Persephone's Orchard--hurray! Pick up your copy soon. The ebook will be $0.99, but only for the first two weeks. See: Kobo, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble for a few e-options. I like IndieBound for paperback so you can have it ordered through a local bookstore.

As for the story, I wrote it because, long ago, I had the same question a lot of people have: Did Persephone love Hades?

Several enquiring minds want to know, to judge from the first suggestion on Google's autofill. They've also asked it on Yahoo Answers and Wiki Answers and other forums. I've pondered it ever since reading about Hades' abduction of Persephone in my copy of D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths as a kid.

After all, it isn't your usual kidnapping. Ancient accounts of mythology vary on the details of pretty much everything, but they seem to agree, more or less, that Hades sees Persephone, falls in insta-love with her (an arrow from Eros might have something to do with it), lures her in with some pretty flowers, and pulls her down screaming into the Underworld.

But once he has her there, he doesn't act like your ordinary kidnapper and lock her in a closet and abuse her--at least, not as far as we're told. Rather, he marries her, at least in a common law way. He sets her up as his queen, very nearly his equal in power. When Persephone's whereabouts are discovered, and Hermes comes to bring her back above ground, Hades tells her: "Go now, Persephone, to your dark-robed mother, go, and feel kindly in your heart towards me: be not so exceedingly cast down; for I shall be no unfitting husband for you among the deathless gods, that am own brother to father Zeus. And while you are here, you shall rule all that lives and moves and shall have the greatest rights among the deathless gods: those who defraud you and do not appease your power with offerings, reverently performing rites and paying fit gifts, shall be punished for evermore."

Not what your typical kidnapper says, right? That's from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which at roughly the 7th century BC is one of the earliest sources we have. Clearly Hades' insta-love hasn't diminished during the months he's kept her there--and it would seem he remains much more faithful to her throughout history than nearly any other god does for his wife (yeah, I'm looking at you, Zeus). But whether Persephone has begun to feel any Stockholm Syndrome at that early stage, we can't be sure.

We do know that before she leaves, Hades sneakily feeds her a few pomegranate seeds, knowing the food of the Underworld will oblige her to return there. (Again, that's how the Homeric Hymn has it. Other sources say she eats the fruit of her own accord, though perhaps absentmindedly.)

Though Persephone returns gladly to her mother Demeter, she does honor her pomegranate pact and return every year to her husband Hades. That's when Demeter lets the Earth go cold and barren: it explains winter, see? Neat. But the seasonal issue, though rather major in the whole myth, is a sidenote to our love question.

It's clear from other myths that by the time Orpheus, Theseus, Herakles (Hercules), and other heroes brave their adventurous descents (while still alive) to the Underworld, Persephone is the realm's powerful queen, able to bestow or deny momentous supernatural favors. She gained serious authority through that kidnapping, and at the very least she learned to accept and use her new role. She gained worshippers, too: Persephone's descent to the Underworld and acquisition of afterlife-related knowledge is a central part of the Eleusinian Mysteries, an actual religious cult that practiced in Greece for centuries.

So couldn't she have learned to love her husband, too?

Plenty of us have thought it possible, and even likely. This list of books about Hades and Persephone shows how the question has fascinated several of us enough to write whole novels about it. Some go as dark and disturbing as you might expect, exploring all those Stockholm-Syndrome possibilities. Others, like mine, rewrite the relationship to eliminate most of the non-consensual portions but still retain the obstacles of dating or marrying a man whose job requires him to live in the Underworld.

For, if you look at it through the lens of modern book genres, the love story of Persephone and Hades is one of the first paranormal romances of Western civilization. The immortal who owns the Underworld and can show you around it anytime: now there's a figure who's dark and intriguing, and, yes, romantic. At least, I'm strange enough to think so. And so, perhaps, do all those other people asking Google the same question.
mollyringle: (Beneath My Skin)
First of all, there is a new giveaway here in which you can win the ebook of Persephone's Orchard and a $10 Amazon gift card, so really, why wouldn't you enter that? Go and good luck!

Second, there's now a book trailer for it:

And third, to return to fandom concerns, I've begun watching "Game of Thrones," some six or seven years after reading the first four books (I still haven't read A Dance with Dragons but I know some spoilers). It's an addictive TV series and does a good job with the exposition--or sexposition as it usually happens--such that I don't end up too confused about the complex plot lines. My Facebook updates on the topic:

May 24: So I'm finally watching the first episode of Game of Thrones, and well gosh, who's cuter: Jon Snow or direwolf puppies? How can a person be expected to decide?

May 25: two whole episodes in now:
Viserys has quite the Lestat vibe/look going on. He may actually be MORE evil than Lestat. He'd be hot if not for the evil.
I wouldn't want to play Joffrey. People must constantly be walking up to him and punching him. How could they resist?
Cool to see That Guy play Ser Jorah with so much kindness when he played Sir Richard (on Downton Abbey) with so much despicableness.
We'll see if I can take the cruelty, knowing as I do that there's lots more of it coming. In the meantime, we have interesting faces to look at. As in the Lord of the Rings films, this series makes good use of faces: charismatic actors, interesting expressions, lingering camera work on them.
It's not escaping my notice that Kit Harington (Jon Snow) would also fit a Hades role really well, at least as I've written him. Dark eyes, dark curly hair, looks good but still youthful with facial hair, good at the brooding thing--check, check, check, and check. Hmm.

May 29: s1 ep3:
I'm already feeling sad about Ned. Oh, Ned.
I'm amused Littlefinger looks like Edward Norton, because that's who I pictured when reading the books.
Tyrion is made of awesome, but we can say that every episode, I wager.
I already like Jaime despite him not being into totally likable territory yet.
Problem with Jon Snow being at the Wall: way too many layers of clothing required. At least he's not covering up his lovely hair. Even though he probably should, given the temperatures.
I like Syrio Forel too. He looks like a cross between Robert Downey Jr and Bob Ross. Happy trees. Happy swords.

June 7: season 1, episode 5: I squeaked out loud in acrophobia when Tyrion looked over the edge of his cell in the Eyrie. And I looked away a lot because there were more stabbings and blood-spurting events this episode. (No, not Jory! We liked Jory! He was just looking at boobs a second ago!) They were also a bit heavy on the sexpositional dialogue this episode, but I don't mind that as much.

I see how this show inspired the coining of the term "sexposition." Here, Theon will explain about his home islands and his father's rebellion...while naked and messing with a whore's boobs! And Loras will discuss who's in line for the throne next...while erotically shaving Renly! Hee. Hey, far better that than the stabbings and beheadings.

My friend Kate commented: And you forgot the scene with Viserys and Doreah in the bath. That was a bit much.

Molly: Hahah--oh yes, "Tell me about the dragons, and also your family history, MMMM yeah." Any show crushes so far? I'm still pretty soft on Jon, but Jaime is highly charismatic too. And Tyrion just for sheer awesomeness.

Kate: I saw photos of the actor who plays Jon Snow beforehand, and I was like, whatevs. But now watching it? Is it all the fur? Completely, meltingly hot. *shakes head*

Molly: Hah, same here. And now, it's like, "No, Molly, you really should not kiss the photo on the DVD case; it'll start getting greasy with lip balm." I've heard theories that his hair possesses the magic of the North. I think there is something to this. Also the rare but adorable laugh. It was so nice of them to give us that shirtless haircut scene in the first episode, as compensation for burying him in Watch uniform layers later. Though yeah, even the fur works.

Here. Enjoy the most adorable ever GIF of Kit Harington as Jon Snow:

I'll stop now. Till I have more episode chatter to preserve for posterity.


mollyringle: (Default)

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