Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank You!

Anita Grace Howard from A Still and Silent Madness (isn't that a lovely blog name?) has g iven me this delightful Versatile Blogger Award.

Thank you Anita! Just what I needed at the end of a difficult week!

I would like to pass this Award on to:

S.L. Stevens at Scroll of a Modern Scribe
Lydia King at The Word is My Oyster
Stephanie Thornton
L.G. Smith at Bards and Prophets
Keriann Greaney Martin at Novel Beginnings

Congradualtions. You guys are some fantastic bloggers!

To make it fun Anita mixed up the rules a little. To give you more options I'll give you both versions.

The original rules:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 5 deserving blogging buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them


Anita's new rules...

Instead of #2 above list the first and last lines of the first five chapters from one of your manuscripts. Can you see a story taking shape? Does it intrigue and intensify, making you want to read what's between?

So here are snit-bits from RULER OF GEAL. The manuscript I mean to start querying soon. . . probably.

Chapter One

Taig Feargal dropped his silver pieces, one coin at a time, onto the table in front of Ol’ Con Eibear the Lodge Master.

He raised the mug and all present drank to the convict’s health –or death—save Veli who discovered too late that the mug was already empty.

Chapter Two

The prince of Gystoria marched toward death.

Another round of quarrels made sure they were both dead.

Chapter Three

Taig let the time drag as he made his way toward his village.

Then he turned and left, leaving gaps in the dust as he tramped up the staircase and into the streets.

Chapter Four

Prince Roneir was welcomed home by ghosts.

Only for a moment and yet the image had planted itself in her mind in a way she knew it would never be uprooted.

Chapter Five

“Thena. Thena wake up.”

His mind could grasp nothing else.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What do you need to write?

Next week is finals week which means this week I am running around with my head on crooked trying to get projects done and snapping at all who try to speak to me. As much as I would love the excuse to ramble about something I'm not going to be graded on I don't have much of a post for you today. Instead I will leave you with a quote followed by a question.

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."
--Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Would you agree? What do you need in order to write? Quiet? A certain pen? Enough sleep? Sleep deprivation? Coffee?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Feminism in Fantasy Literature

There is a sub-genre in fantasy that focuses mainly on female protagonists. Robin Mckinley. Patrica McKillip. Julliet Marillier. Sharon Shinn. Ellen Kushner. They each feature a feminine prospective in a genre that is usually riddled with long lost kings and brutal battle scenes. What is interesting is the different prospectives they give and the subtle ways they show them.

Robin Mckinley's protagonists are usually very straight forward female heroes. They wield swords along side men and stand up for their gender in the face of oppression. Her heroines are proud of being women and make sure everybody knows it. This used to annoy me. A lot. When I was young and didn't realize that gender equality wasn't self evident to everyone in the world. Now I sometimes wish her heroines would relax and just be without having to prove their independence to everybody all the time but I also understand that, especially in the context of a pseudo medieval society, that isn't always an option.

Patrica McKillip is almost the opposite. I have never encountered anything resembling gender inequality in her books. She has equal female and male characters who fight battles and rule kingdoms and play music together without ever thinking anything of it. Rather than fighting against oppression her heroines serve as an example simply by living in an idyllic world where no one has ever suggested that one gender is more important or able than the other. There might be certain social expectations but even those are seldom strongly enforced.

Julliet Marillier's characters are feminists in a way that took me a book or two before I recognized it as such. Rather than fight against expectations or live in a world where they don't exist, Marillier's characters are content to be domestic and nurturing. These skills are painted, however, in such a way that they are revered rather than looked down on. Her characters recognize that their roles are just as important as the "great deeds" performed by the men and are able to unlock secrets and magic everyone else might over look.

Ellen Kushner takes yet another approach. Her male and female characters tear down the constrains of both gender roles. Within the context of a very strict society her male and female characters fuss over silk and wield swords simultaneously.

I know that over all good characterization is more important than a "positive" feminine --or male --image but when I'm working with a historical society that enforces unfair expectations I am reluctant to allow them to get away with it. On the other hand I want the setting to remain authentic without too much modern thinking infiltrating its way into my characters' heads. I strive for a balance but I think I ere on the side too much modern thinking more often than too much accuracy.

What about you? Do you ever wonder about how you are representing gender in your manuscripts? Have you noticed any other ways authors deal with it? Or do you only worry about character and let any gender issues that arise take care of themselves?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Literary Idol Challenge: Princess Tales

When I was a little girl my favorite book in the whole wide worlds was A LITTLE PRINCESS by Francess Hodgson Burnett.If you don't already know the story Sarah Crewe is a wealthy, popular school girl who is kind and imaginative until her father dies and leaves her penniless. The Headmistress of her boarding school, Miss Mention, lets her live in the attic as a maid. Even with hardly enough to eat, no more silks and dolls, and strenuous exhausting work she remains kind and hopeful, whispering stories to the other servant girl to make the cold and hunger more bearable. Sarah is eventually restored to her former wealth much to the chagrin of Miss Mention but that is not the point. Sarah was always a princess whether her circumstances expressed it or not.

Due to the recent nuptials of a certain royal couples there has been a lot of talk this last week about princesses. Does royalty only belong to a long forgotten age? Should we allow our daughters to romanticize the unrealistic concept of being a princess?

If their concept of "princess" is limited to pretty dresses and hansom princes then I agree with the feminists. Absolutely not. But when I think of princesses I always think of Sarah Crewe's stunning imagination and knowledge of her own worth despite what anybody eles tells her. I was eight years old when I first read A LITTLE PRINCESS but I can still remember a long night time ride in the back of a van with a window that wouldn't close. I thought of Sarah's imagination and pretended that I was in a carriage full of soft fur blankets and warm chocolate to drink while I waited to get home to rest. I can still remember the dark tunnel at the natural history museum that I was afraid to enter until I decided to think of it as the diamond mines Sarah's father finds. Sarah Crewe's story taught me to imagine. It taught me to believe. I don't know if I could have survived childhood without it.

So this month's Liteary Idol Challenge (no I didn't forget. Just waxing nostalgic for a minute there) is to write a princess story or fairy tale 50-1,000 words. What is your take on royalty and princesses? The symbolism? The reality? send your interpretation of it all to me at:

by Sunday, May 22nd and I will post it to be voted on Monday May 23rd.