Category Archives: Views from the Depths

In Review

It’s that time of year – the time for top ten lists, and “year in review” posts, and the dreaded New Year’s resolutions…

On the resolution front, I keep promising myself to be kind to myself and to not “over-resolve.”  I make this promise every year, and every year I still put way too many expectations on myself.  This year, though, I’m hoping everyone holds me to my plan to be kind to myself – so much so that I’ve posted over on Indie Jane about the dangers of “over-resolving.”

I also tend to feel really unaccomplished at the end of the year.  There’s something about realizing an entire twelve months has flown by that makes you panic and think “I’m not doing enough!”  So I think it is important to take a breather and recognize the good things that have been accomplished this year.  Here’s some of mine.

2013 Books Image

1.  I published two novels and a short story collection this year.  That’s pretty awesome.

2.  I wrote aforementioned short story collection.  It was a really hard, long, and personal process for me to write those four stories.

3.  I was able to get all three of my novels converted to audiobook.

4.  I took a trip by myself!  My first time spending the night away from my kids. And we all survived.

5.  I took a trip with kids by myself!  Traveling with two kids isn’t always easy, but we had a fabulous time driving to CO to visit my parents for a week.

6.  I was able to beta read for several author friends.

7.  I’ve completely changed my work out habits – from never working out to working out several times a week and doing things I never thought I’d be able to accomplish.  As a result my body has really changed and gotten a lot stronger.

I’m not going to lie, 2013 was a really hard year for me personally.  It feels good to be able to list these off and see tangible proof that things were accomplished and improved.

What are some of your accomplishments this year?

 

 

 

Why and What If? The Art of Writing an Adaptation

It’s no secret that I love fairy tales, both in their “original” form and adaptations. Whether it’s a modern adaptation that takes place in a big city like Los Angeles, or a more traditional retelling, I love reading – and writing – them all. One of the main reasons is that it’s both fun and challenging to really delve into a story and ask two super important and magical questions: Why? and What if?

Why?

The great thing about so many of the earliest versions of these tales is that there is hardly ever a character motivation stated for anything. Every now and again a villain hates a heroine because of their great beauty, but usually the reader is just left wondering why in the heck someone did what they did. That is, if the reader takes the time to wonder…we accept most of these stories at face value because we’ve heard them so often.

An example of this is the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I recently decided to do a short story adaptation of it and went back and read the original convinced those princesses were dancing because they were enchanted. I finished re-reading and thought “What in the holy hell is wrong with these chicks? They enslave these poor princes and keep them underground just because they like to rave all night?”

Creating a motivation, delving into the characters and trying to figure out why they tick they way they do, is such a fun challenge. And it’s more challenging, I think, than creating character motivation for characters you’ve created out of whole cloth because when it’s a character of your own making you can change their actions. With adaptations you have a certain set of actions and you have to tailor the motivation to meet the preexisting criteria…

Unless you then also ask…

What if?

What if you took these same characters and put them in different situations, time periods, or settings? Does it change their motivation, does it change their actions? What will make this plot work with a new twist? What if, for example, Sleeping Beauty had never woken up? What if characters from two different stories met? What if all the fairy tales were actually historical fact and not just stories we were told at bedtime?

Here again the challenge is to work within the existing framework, to analyze the story and decide what core elements make it “it.” If you stripped everything else away would the story still be recognizable?

Really digging in and finding the whys and what ifs can change the way you think about a story. It’s thought provoking to see different authors take completely different paths to the same story. Adaptation is a great writing exercise, whether it’s of fairy tales, classic novels, or a piece of fan fiction, because of the way it stretches your brain, the way it forces creativity within parameters. So if you ever find yourself in a writing funk or in need of strengthening those characterization muscles try putting your own twist on a tale!

Views from the Depths Is Here!

I’m excited to announce that Views from the Depths is now available!  And look at the gorgeous new cover my designer Tori created for it!

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Views from the Depths is a collection of four short story fairy tale retellings.  It can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

You can also add it on Goodreads!

I don’t include an acknowledgement section in my short story collections, but I’d like to take a minute to thank everyone who encouraged me while I was writing Views from the Depths.  First and foremost, Nancy Kelley, who encouraged me to keep writing these stories when I was unsure how the character voices in my head were going to resolve themselves.  To my early readers Rebecca Nyenhuis, Melissa Buell, and Rebecca Fleming I owe a huge debt of gratitude.  Thanks to my editor Mark House who always gives me the very best.  And of course thank you to my fabulous cover designer Victoria Austen-Young because without her talent and friendship I would be lost.  Thank you all so very much!