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Monday, August 27, 2012

My Favorite Statue


Those who have been to the Louvre have seen this statue. It’s called Winged Victory of Samothrace, or Nike of Samothrace. I always forget the fancy name at the end and call it Winged Victory.

I saw this statue for the first time in the summer of 1993. I didn’t know anything about it then, but fell in love instantly. It’s displayed right across some steps once you’re in the museum so you can’t miss it. I spent a lot of time at the Louvre while I lived in Paris. I must have gone there two or three times a week. I went early in the morning, the middle of the day, and even late at night. I went when the museum was closed, I snuck into secret underground excavation sections, and I walked around the thing too many times to count. I even have specific memories of the Louvre tied to smell. When I pick up a certain scent, I’m reminded of the metro station right at the castle. I can’t describe the scent; I just know it when I smell it. There are a lot of things I love about the Louvre, but this statue is my favorite. I love how it tells a story. I love how it’s imperfect. I love that it has survived 2,200 years.

There aren’t any words of advice or deep meaning in today’s post. I just wanted to share something that I love and hope you’ll find inspiration from it, too.

 ~ Jamie

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Clearing my Head


You may have heard the advice to step away from your novel once you’ve finished. I’ve followed that rule for the last three books and found the return back exhilarating. I love the fresh perspective gained by simply getting away and clearing my head. This summer, when I finished the first draft of UNDER DARKENED SKIES, I immediately shielded myself from the book and moved on to outlining book four. It was a break away from the book, but not from the characters—the story continued. After several weeks, I returned to UNDER DARKENED SKIES and started editing.

Then on Tuesday, August 14th, a new idea came to me. It was so off the wall crazy that I instantly fell in love with it. I outlined the entire novel that night and committed to stay awake until I finished writing the first chapter. Four days later, I have penned 12,000 words with a goal to finish the novel by the middle of September.

I was feeling good before this week, and thought I was in a great place in regards to my writing motivation. But then I got involved in this new story. To say it’s been refreshing is an understatement. I’m different today, in a good way.  Honestly, I’ve been involved with Rhiannon’s story for three years now and never realized how much it was affecting me. Writing in first person from a girl is freakin’ tough for me! While writing this new book, (from a boy’s point of view, by the way) I’m able to be more like me—I’m a little zany and a whole lot giddy. The experience these last few days can best be described as me letting the creative monster loose. I’m not holding back; it’s a “no holds barred” writing experience. No matter how crazy or out of this world an idea sounds, I’m exploring it—and having a blast in the process.

I’ve never had this much fun writing. Never. (For the record, I’ve always enjoyed writing—just not this much.) Anyway, in a month or so I’ll be back to normal and will be preparing the final details for the release of FROM RISING FLAMES. I’m hoping to have a cover by the end of September. Until then, I’m howlin’ at the moon and running with the pack. Let the creative beast run free. *howls for effect*

(p.s. There are no faeries or vampires or wolves in this book I'm writing. Only zombies. Yes, zombies. And they’re freakin’ fantastic the way I’m writing them! If you want a hint, find my post on zombies and you'll see I have a different perspective on that sort of thing.)
 
Happy reading.

~ Jamie

Monday, August 13, 2012

"What If?" Fairytale Madness Blogfest

I'm participating in the "What if?" Fairytale Madness Blogfest hosted by Morgan Shamy. It's been a while since I've written flash fiction, so I thought this would be a fun break from my novels. There are several categories and the hosts are offering prizes!

  • Best Plot Twist
  • Best Love Story
  • Best Tragedy
  • Best Comic Relief



I chose to enter the Plot Twist category, imagining if my story took place today, how would Cinderella really act? I'm limited to 300 words, so here it is:


“But you shall go, my darling,” said the old woman, “or I am not queen of the faeries or your Godmother.”
Cinderella had heard her father talk of her godmother, and tell her that she was one of those good faeries who protect children. “Where have you been?” she asked, wiping her eyes.
“I have been close. And I am here now. Let us prepare you for the ball.”
Cinderella’s face flushed. “I asked where you have been. While I’ve lived this horrible life, trapped with my step-mother and evil step-sisters, where were you?”
The old woman raised her wand and touched Cinderella gently on the shoulder. “Go, my dear, fetch me a pumpkin from the garden.”
“A pumpkin!” Cinderella’s misery quickly turned to anger. “My father told me you would protect me, and now you wish me to fetch a pumpkin?”
“You must have a coach much handsomer than your sisters,” insisted the woman. “Do not fret; I have come to help you.”
The long wished evening had changed into a nightmare. Cinderella thought of nothing that this woman could do for her. A pumpkin indeed. For a carriage? Next the old woman might ask for rats to become horseman. Cinderella dropped to her knees and buried her face into her palms. “I want you to leave,” she said. “You have brought me nothing but nonsense.”
“But I’m your faery godmother,” said the woman. “With a dash of magic and a pinch of luck, we’ll make you the woman worthy of the king’s son. But we must hurry, for we only have until midnight.”
“Midnight? Why?”
“That’s when the magic will wear off, darling.”
Cinderella was so angry that she shoved the old woman in front of her and rushed her out of the door. “Midnight indeed," she muttered.


Happy reading.
~ Jamie

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Character Profile: Nia Dorsey


The second character I want to profile is Rhiannon’s best and most trusted friend, Nia. When I first created Aisling and its world, Nia was my initial introduction to the people who lived there. The chapter I wrote included her and a captured bandit. The interaction between them was quiet and tense, but her eyes stole the scene. Brilliant and green, Nia’s eyes were mesmerizing and offered great contrast to her straight black hair. One day, I might release the scene—it’s still one of my favorites.

A lot of people don’t know what to make of Nia. Many have told me they don’t trust her; some think she’s behind all the trouble that happens. I understand their feelings. She’s mysterious—a hint of deceit lies under everything she does, but honest desires command her words and actions. Nia is the youngest of three daughters. She wants to be a faerie more than anything and has dreamed about becoming one of Aisling’s chosen few for as long as she can remember. Her oldest sister, Madeline, is a faerie and is married to the Chief Elder. Nia views Madeline’s life as the personification of success and is jealous that Rhiannon is following a similar “perfect” path.

Nia lost her mother to illness when she was a small child. Both her sisters are much older than she, so Nia has grown up under the care of her father, who never remarried and is extremely protective. Nia hasn’t had a maternal figure in her home for many years, but has learned a lot from servants and Rhiannon’s mother.

Many young men in Aisling work for Nia’s father. She sought comfort with some of them in the past, but discovered nothing honest in their wanting. Because of this, she quietly despises the men in Aisling and worries about her future there. When a smart young man from DarMattey stays at her home, a romance grows. He is nothing like the young men she knows and offers an escape from the life she fears.

Since a young age, Rhiannon Phillips has been Nia’s closest friend. Nia calls her Rhia—a name chosen when they were younger to denote their similarities. But Nia and Rhiannon have changed over the years, and Nia knows this. If faeries are perfect, and Rhiannon is a faerie, then Nia thinks she is far from worthy of acceptance into the Fae. Rhiannon’s reaction to the tragedy of the season surprises Nia and it makes her guarded. She wants to help, but Rhiannon seems to push her away. Nia doesn’t want to lose her friend and doesn’t know what to do.

The season takes a toll on Nia, and the more complicated her life becomes, the more she wants to leave Aisling.

I enjoy the relationship between Nia and Rhiannon because, when all is said and done, they are still best friends. There are secrets they keep from each other and they both don’t trust one another at times, but that’s the dynamic part of it. Both young women are headed in different paths, but fate will eventually bring them together again. It’ll be fun to see what happens.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Character Profile: Leila Phillips

You may have noticed that I don’t give many character descriptions in my writing. Flip through the pages of ON FALLEN WINGS and you won’t find explicit details about what someone looks like, exactly what they’re wearing, their favorite color, etc. In fact, I’m absolutely vague in some cases. I’m of the mindset that the character’s appearance should be created by the mind of the reader, and not spelled out by the author. While doing this, I’m hoping that the reader can associate the character’s personality with someone they’ve met or known in the past. Images based on their own memories will flash in their minds while they enjoy the passages of my tales.

With that said, I want to spend a handful of posts discussing a few characters and how I imagine them. Today I’m starting with Leila Phillips, by far the most popular character in ON FALLEN WINGS—even though she’s not the protagonist.

Everyone loves Leila. She’s such a likeable character that I chose to introduce her on page one of ON FALLEN WINGS. It’s her desire to experience love that introduces the reader to Rhiannon’s world. Leila is twelve years old, dainty, and has the same straight dark hair as her mother. Leila has grown up under the shadow of her older sister, whose membership in the Fae has been an honor for the Phillips family. Because of this, Leila doesn’t get much attention, so she goes looking for it. Her natural reaction is to flirt with the boys in the village. This is somewhat evident in ON FALLEN WINGS, but will be more pronounced in FROM RISING FLAMES. It’s not a bad thing, but will lead to some trouble down the road.

As the second child, Leila also has avoided the weight of responsibility pushed onto Rhiannon. Leila is happier, flightier, a little bit scatterbrained, and definitely more carefree than her older sister. This causes some tension between the two, but it’s nothing more than sibling rivalry. Leila admires Rhiannon and, like most girls in Aisling, wishes to become a faerie like her someday. Whenever she can, Leila will avoid working and find a place to play instead. She’s as curious as a cat and a bit of a tease.

Leila sees the love between Rhiannon and Sean and wants to have that same type of relationship. She’s been raised with the love and protection of her parents and has never known anything bad in her life. When the trouble surrounding Rhiannon happens, this takes a toll on her, as she is not equipped to deal with the tragedy. You don’t see it since ON FALLEN WINGS is told through Rhiannon’s eyes, but Leila’s view of a perfect world becomes cracked. While trying to understand what’s going on, she leans toward her friend Michael Dunn for support. At the end of ON FALLEN WINGS, a romance between Leila and Michael begins to blossom. Using a phrase from Fiddler on the Roof, “it’s a good match.” Everyone agrees that Michael and Leila are good for each other. Remember that Leila likes to flirt, though. Hint, hint.

One last point about Leila. When I first created Aisling and the world around it, I imagined her as the heroine, not Rhiannon. She was more likeable and definitely the type of person most people would cheer for. While my story has shifted to Rhiannon’s tale, Leila still plays a prominent role throughout the series and her interactions and relationships will become the catalysts for quite a bit of tension—and even some conflict—later on.