Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hey, Fairy Tale, I Know Your Type

Back in university, when I took a class on folk tales, our chief text was a a shelf-length set of books in the undergrad library that comprised the Aarne-Thompson Tale Type Index. Those original two guys, Aarne and Thompson, sorted through scads of European and Near Eastern folk tales, and later on some dude named Uther (for you Arthurian aficionados, yes, that's really his name! ) added stories from a few other languages and cultures.

(Aside: I still suspect the collection is super limited because it does not include East Asian, African, or Native American tales. However, I haven't studied the Uther update, so maybe he added some?)

Anyhow, these folklorist guys broke down tales into their elements -- princess in a tower, supernatural helper, persecuted heroine -- and assigned numbers to each type. Then they noted which type-numbers tend to occur most frequently together. For instance, the Cinderella story contains both the persecuted heroine and the supernatural helper. 

At one point, I thought about writing a story based on the categorization system itself -- super meta! But then I read Seanan Maguire's Indexing and thought, well, somebody did that and did it well.   

I also always wanted to write an ATU type 410: a sleeping princess, but, you know, with some kind of twist. Like, she's in space or the coffin is really a Winnebago or something similar. Then I read... well, lots of Sleeping Beauty riffs: Veronica Scott's excellent (and in space!) Trapped on Talonque, David Eddings's Elenium trilogy, a gorgeous unpublished romance by Alison Williams, Anne Rice's erotica series. I started to feel like, well, this has been done, so I put my dimension-hopping, time-pausing, intergalactic queen on ice.

But you know what? There might be a reason why these tale types are done over and over, why they transcend culture and language, and people discuss them in a meta way in universities and academic what-ifferies. So maybe I could have another go at type 410 and no one would mind. We'll see. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

It's Not A Happy Fairy Tale When Your Shadow Wants You Dead

If I were inclined to rewrite a fairy tale, which would it be and why?

Yea though one might think me a Grimmlet, I'm more partial to Hans Christian Andersen's darker fairy tales. The Little Match Girl will forever break my heart, but it's not the one I'd retell. No, I'd pick:

Nope, not referring to Lamont Cranston, though "what evil lurks in the hearts of men" is definitely a shared theme. The Shadow by HCA is a story of a "learned man" whose cowardice and curiosity about a beautiful woman he espies briefly in the neighboring apartment leads to the divorce from his shadow. It's pertinent that this rending of man and reflection happens in the "hot countries" where "people become as brown as mahogany all over." (Yes, this "learned man" is from the "cold countries.")  There's so much to be read into that culturally, plus the wending of seemingly diverse mythologies...

Anywhoo, dude returns to the cold countries without his esteemed shadow. Years pass. He grows a new shadow...and then his old one returns --arguably corporeal, wealthy, healthy, and in sartorial splendor. The two have a gentlemanly chat about what happened that fateful night. On the surface, the conversation pleasant, yet the shadow is a bit like "that" friend, you know, the one who goes to exotic places, meets exciting people, then rushes home to rub your nose in it? Yeah. The Shadow departs and returns over the years, each conversation adopting a more sinister tone. Oh, and the shadow has a hang-up about using the word "thou," it insists on the word "you." (Again, relevant, your honor.)

What the shadow really wants is for the learned man to travel with him, all expenses paid; the learned man has only to give up a bit of his dignity to have the time of his life. The natural refusal and cajole happens with each visit until the learned man--aging and in ill health--finally agrees. Shit unravels in a dastardly manner from there as the shadow convinces those around them that he is the man and the learned man is his shadow. The learned man is passive throughout--from the beginning to the end of the story--which ends with the shadow marrying a princess and the princess executing the learned man.

There are ALL KINDS of stuff to unpack from this story and spin out into a larger paranormal world, possibly modern, probably LGBTQ+, and...~shhh~

Should I pen this retelling of a fairy tale? Only The Shadow knows. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Retelling the Fairy Tale

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is which fairy tale would you pick to rewrite and why?

It's kind of a funny question for me, because it's starting to be more accurate to ask me which fairy tale I *haven't* rewritten yet.

So far I've done retellings of Beauty & the Beast (PETALS AND THORNS) and The Goose Girl (HEART'S BLOOD).

Then there are all the books that incorporate fairy tale themes without being direct retellings. For example, the original Twelve Kingdoms trilogy began with the idea of the three princesses, daughters of the High King, each more beautiful than the last. All of the books in that trilogy and the Uncharted Realms and Chronicles of Dasnaria spinoff series play with various fairy tale themes. My first fantasy romance series, A Covenant of Thorns, also plays on fairy tale themes, that time about a person being transported to Faerie.

 As for the ones I still want to do... two have been on my list for a long time: Rapunzel and Cinderella. I have ideas for Rapunzel, but nothing yet that really gets to the feel I want. Cinderella poses its own challenges, but... I think I may have it now. :D

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Unwritten Projects Are (Briefly) in the Spotlight


This week’s theme: Name three writing projects we've been planning to work on for a long while and haven't yet touched.

First would be the second book in my Magic of Claddare series. I definitely have sequels planned and even have the cover for book 2, The Shifter’s Witch, but fantasy romance isn’t my main genre and so I keep bypassing this one to work on science fiction romance novels, which is where my readers are to be found for the most part. In the meantime, I have all kinds of other plots in mind to set in this world. Time is always my issue!

Second would be the sequel to Dancer of the Nile. I
have the plot in my head and a cover already purchased but in this case other ancient Egyptian plots have been shinier and I’ve written them instead of continuing the story of Nima the dancer and her noble Egyptian general. I feel like I might be sneaking up on this one though and might even slot it into my writing schedule for this year. We’ll see.

Third would be the sequel to Escape from Zulaire, which readers do keep asking for. I have a plot – or as much of a plot as I ever have prior to sitting down and writing a book. I usually know the beginning, the ending and a few major scenes in between, and of course who the hero and heroine are. In this case it’ll be Mitch the sergeant who gets his own story. And surprise, surprise, I don’t have a cover already bought for this one! Which is probably a good indicator of how far off I am from deciding to write the book.

If we’re supposed to discuss entirely new projects, unconnected to previous books or specific series…this week’s topic caused me to remember a proposal I’d sent to Carina Press in 2013 when they and I were exploring what else I might write for them since they were no longer doing Ancient World (at that time. For all I know, they’ve since gone back to that genre. Things change in Romancelandia!). I dug through my old files and found the document – here were some of my suggestions to them for a new series from me:

Chloe, Allie and Maureen are modern day descendants of the Three Fates from Greek mythology….
(Apparently I’d even found a way to work a Navy SEAL into the plot somewhere…hmmm.)

Rosalie Drake is an aspiring young actress with a classical theater background and one commercial to her name, who supports herself with temping…
(I remember now part of my inspiration for this was an actress who worked for me at NASA/JPL as a temporary secretary off and on for a couple of years. It was always so cool when she’d go off to be in a movie for a few days and then return to us…eventually she dropped out of sight…)

Taryn has been out of college for over a year, unable to find a good job with her newly minted Liberal Arts degree, living at home.  Her older sister is a Head Keeper at the Zoo of Hollywood and gets Taryn hired as assistant publicist…
(I’d probably just paid my LA Zoo membership that week and felt inspired…)

Interestingly to me now, #2 and #3 were apparently envisioned as straight forward contemporary romances, which is so not what I actually write. I probably would have put a scifi or paranormal twist on the actual books when I sat down to write them…thank you, Carina Press for not biting on any of them! 

I think I’m much happier the way the world turned out, with me going on to a full time career writing scifi romance and self-publishing, and continuing to write my ancient Egyptian paranormal romances and self-publishing those. I learned a lot from Carina and my wonderful editors there, but I really prefer to run my own author business and set my own deadlines as it all turns out.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Dream List

Y'all, I just turned in The Book I Thought I'd Never Finish. Does that one count? No? Okay. Projects I want to work on:

1. For a decade I wanted to finish the arc of the SFR series I started in 2010. Now, thanks to The Wild Rose Press, I get to do that. We'll see whether it was worth the wait. At this point, there are only two books left to write - one for Colonel Kirthin Turrel and one for Her Majesty Queen Eilod Saoyrse. That's about all I can say about those books at this point.
2.  There are a couple of hot novellas that happen in the same story universe as the SFR novels. I have two of those stories at least half done. Now I want them finished. The sexy shorts are a lot of fun. I find them to be great palate cleansers after the bigger novels. But these guys don't have a contract. The novels do. So these two take a number and stand in line.
3. There's a little piece of weird sitting on my hard drive called The Curse of the Lorelei - It's spy versus spy during an oddly haunted Civil War. It's meant to be a slow burn romance that takes a couple of books to pay off. I have the first book done, but it needs a little finessing before it sees the light of day. But. Contract for other books, right? Again. This book takes a number and stands in line.

All of this is predicated on the notion that I never again have an idea that grabs me by the throat and threatens me into writing it.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Off the back burner and into the story oven

I'm super nosy, so I'm always asking folks what they're working on. I'm sure it's super annoying. How fortuitous, though, that this week our SFF Seven topic is "three stories I might have abandoned but would like to work on someday," which is pretty much permission to be as annoyingly nosy as possible, right!? Bliss for Miss Nosypants! So naturally I thought of Chandra Ryan, a writer who used to pen some of the awesomest sci-fi romance around, dropped out of the biz for a while because life, and has just started re-releasing old stuff and starting a brand new series about space dragon shifters (Golden: see pretty cover). She was kind enough to answer my questions, as follows:


As an author, I’ve found that one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How do you come up with your ideas?” Which is a great question with, unfortunately, a decidedly boring answer, “They just come to me.” Granted, sometimes I hear a song that makes me experience an emotion and I decide I have to write something to capture that emotion (Bond Betrayed), sometimes I’m working through issues I have within my own life and I use the writing process in lieu of therapy (Ink in the Blood), or sometimes we’ve just had a horrible, horrible election that makes me so mad I want to throw a temper tantrum and break things (Golden) but most of the time an idea or character just pops into my head and I run with it.

A question I’ve never been asked, however, is, “What ideas have you had that you haven’t written yet?” At least, that was true until last week when a great friend and amazing author, Vivien Jackson, reached out to me about writing this blog. One simple question had me going through my mental notes. It really got the creative juices going and got me excited about some projects I’d put on the very, very back burner. So thank you!!

So which projects have I been dragging my feet on?

The easiest answer for me to come up with, the one that immediately popped into my head, was the third book in my Community series. I don’t even have a title for it. And that series has been out for, well, forever. Ink in the Blood, the first book in the series, was the first book I ever had published. It was the book that started it all. And I’ve known what the next book in the series should be for years. Isaac’s sister needs to have her story told. She was betrayed, kidnapped, and held hostage in Bond Betrayed, for Pete’s sake. If anybody deserves a happy ending, it’s her. I just haven’t been able to sit down and tell it, however.

The second project I thought of was a retelling of Rapunzel I’d dreamed up about two or three years ago. Only, instead of it being a fantasy setting, it would take place in space. Because everything is better in space. Stay with me here. So Rapunzel is the crown princess of a planet. This planet sees hair length as a social status. The longer your hair is, the more prestige a person has. Being crown princess, Rapunzel has the longest hair. Her tower is a metaphorical one. The walls she’s had to build around herself because she is royalty.

The third project was a horror romance where the heroine buys a book at a second hand store that is cursed. I don’t remember much about the plot, though. It was shortly after my mom gave me our family Bible. Which was weird because I’m not terribly religious, but my sister is. So I asked her why she gave the Bible to me and not my sister. As you’ve probably guessed by now, she said, “Your sister thinks it’s cursed because your father bought it.” So she gave it to me instead. Ummm… Thanks?

So there they are. Three of my projects that I hope to get written someday but haven’t as of yet!! Huge thank yous to The SFF Seven for having me on their blog today and thank you to everybody who stopped by.

If you wanted to check out all the things I’ve actually completed, feel free to stop by my website: 

And to find out about all the things I’m in the process of completing, come hang out with me in my reader’s group: Chandra's Clubhouse

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

My next projects and some sexy aliens

As Tom Petty said, the future is wide open, and I'm a rebel without a clue.

Yesterday, the final book in my cyberpunk romance series was released, and now I'm free to work on anything I want to. Woohoo! Which of course has had be going back through my "In Process" folder and perusing stories in various states of dishabille. People, there are SO MANY stories in this folder. So. Many. But because you don't want to be reading this blog post for the rest of your day/week/life, I'll pick just three to sum up:

1. Twenty years after they allied heroically to defeat the necromancer, all the kings of Eyath are... gone. Disappeared. Missing. Dead? It falls to the next generation, led by a princess who should not exist and a tree who cannot die, to uncover what happened, repair the damage to their land, and confront the sins that led them all to this doom. (I've never pitched this one, so I don't have a back-cover-copy write-up of the story. This little bit will have to do.)

2. (Did pitch this one -- it didn't pass committee -- so here's the extended version.) Metallurgist Gal Gutierrez takes a job to examine and retrieve samples of a material that even the archaeological dig lead won’t touch. But Gal has no such qualms. She’ll touch it, bag it, bring it to her lab, and science the shit out of it.

Until she gets to the site and, uh, meets it.

Ashim, the Destroyer of Worlds, is a prisoner on this backwater planet Earth, strapped to it by a radiation barrier that protects all these pre-evolved life forms from the dangers of space. And keeps him from anything like stretching. He hasn’t flexed his power in ten thousand revolutions of this ball of iron and tedium, and lo, it begins to wear upon him. He’s paid for his crimes, and his sentence is drawing to a close. There’s just one thing he has left to do: blow this place and get out.

But when the human woman steps into his cavern, touches him, speaks to him, all his plans are whatever and he can think of nothing other than touching her right back. Sifting the aura that surrounds her. Listening to her delicious voice and inhaling her intoxicating scent. No matter that those physical things would require him to reduce himself to human form.

O, Great Bang, he is lost.

3. My riff off of Guardians of the Galaxy wherein a secret prince busts out of an orbital prison with help from a tech-smart but whiny teenage rebel, a double-crossing security guard, and whatever Olorin is (a science experiment? a cosmic god?). Anyhow, they steal the exact ship they oughtn't, meet a quantum-entangled chinchilla, and hie across the galaxy with all the law on their tails to save Davon's mom, the queen, from an alien threat that wants to kill her and the planet she rode in on. Good times.

As I mentioned, there are others, but these have the most words done, and I should probably finish them. Now that I've done the self-publishing thing once, I'm less worried about what my agent will find sellable, which frees me up to write whatever crazysauce pops into my brain. And hoo-boy, there are some things.

So, hooray for next projects! I just got to pick one.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

#SciFi #Romance Release Day: MORE THAN STARDUST by Vivien Jackson

It's a celebration today as our Wednesday blogger Vivien releases the third book in her sexy Wanted and Wired Sci-Fi Romance series

Wanted and Wired, Book 3

Chloe, a self-aware, highly illegal nanorobotic artificial intelligence knows a thing or two about wanting.

The growing Machine Rebellion wants her to become its god.
The technocratic global Consortium wants to cage her, take her apart, and reverse-engineer her.
Her family wants to keep her a secret.
Her best friend Garrett wants her safe.

Chloe is a thing made of wants.
It's time the world knew hers.

BUY IT NOW: Amazon | B&NKobo