Drawn by Cecilia Gray

This book is on my To Be Read List and I’m super excited for it!  I know Cecilia through Indie Jane, she writes awesome YA Austen adaptations as well as Regency romance.  I can’t wait to read her latest release, Drawn, which is a YA genre-bender.

 

Drawn

 

A wholly original tale of friendship and betrayal through the eyes – and lies – of one extraordinary girl.

Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?

Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.

To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets.

 

You can snag a copy of Drawn on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks.  You can also add it to your Goodreads Want to Read shelf here.

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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!

Cute Overload: Christmas Dance Edition

This week my kiddo’s dance studio performed at the Festival of Trees here in Helena.  Both my kids take beginning hip hop /tumbling and they were doing one dance (they’re 4-6 years old).  Earlier this week, I found out that the tutu maker had backed out and so of course I volunteered and spent half the week making tutus.

Fluffy tutus are the best kind of tutus
Fluffy tutus are the best kind of tutus
Making tutus at 1 am and watching the Hunger Games makes one a little punchy...
Making tutus at 1 am and watching the Hunger Games makes one a little punchy…

It was exciting.  Especially as we had to haul 7 tutus and two kids across town in -17 degree weather. Yes, you heard me right.

I may be biased but I think this is an above average level of cute.
I may be biased but I think this is an above average level of cute.

So, I’m about to mom out on you and share the video of their first performance.  Because I can.  And they’re damn cute.  In case you can’t pick them out of a line up (cause why would you be able to do that?), they’re the two dark-headed kids in the very middle of the line.

Are you doing Christmassy things this week? I’m still recovering from the Festival of Trees, but we are getting our own tree tonight!

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!

 ViewsFromDepths-1600x2400

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!

 

Introducing…Views from the Depths

I have some very exciting news!  The next fairy tale short story collection will be released the first week of December!  And it has a shiny new name that fits its personality.

Introducing…

Views from the Depths

A mermaid willing to trade her life for love…

A young girl whose beauty can drive people mad…

Twelve sisters with a mysterious addiction…

A beast that can only be transformed by love…

Views from the Depths is a collection of four short stories told from perspectives of multiple characters.  Each of these stories takes an in-depth and sometimes melancholy look at some of your favorite fairy tales.

Includes adaptations of The Little Mermaid, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and Beauty and the Beast.

Are you excited? I certainly am!

 

(There’s a sneak peak of the first point of view in The Little Mermaid story over on Teatime Romance, go check it out!)

The Curse of Avoidance Perfectionism

In writing and in life I cope with what I call “avoidance perfectionism.”  The basic concept is that I’m a perfectionist but not the kind that manages to produce.  I avoid trying new things until I know I will do them perfectly the first time.  This doesn’t work out well in many, many areas.  In writing it sets me up for spectacular levels of fail.  If I just “think” about a project it can remain perfect in my head.  But if I start actually working on said project it will immediately become less than perfect.

Of course the main problem is that you can’t do anything perfectly the first time, especially writing.  You have to embrace the suck of a first draft.  My avoidance perfectionism gets even worse when I’m trying a new style or genre.  I completely freak out.  The problem is made worse by the fact that I like new things and I get bored easily…I know, I’m a mass of contradictions.  Let’s just say I like the idea of trying a new style or genre more than I like the work of actually doing it.

But trying new things helps us grow! And it helps us get better at the old things!  I know both of these statements to be true, which is why I do, eventually, force my way through the paralyzing fear before the start (and in the middle, and at the end) of a new project.

I wish the rest of this post was really super helpful and practical tips for letting go of the fear and trying new things or ways to turn off the internal editor.  I feel extremely under-qualified to give such advice because right now my internal editor is pitching a full on hissy fit.  I’m at a total loss on how to shut her up and how to let go of that little voice that says “you’re not good enough, everything you’re working on sucks.”

So what are your tips for getting past that voice?  What do you do if it rears its ugly head in the middle of a project and you can’t figure out which way to proceed?