June 28, 2013

As Dreams Are Made On

we are such stuff as dreams are made on,
and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

- shakespeare, the tempest

I considered doing a post on the Assassin next, since people wanted it so badly (and since I actually know what I want to say on that subject).  But that wouldn't be orderly and anyhow, I like to keep everyone guessing, so I decided instead to address the question of Tempus Regina's setting.  It came up a couple times, and it seems there is as much confusion about that as there was - and probably still is - about the whole time travel business.  Hopefully I can give a clearer answer this time.

...does Tempus Regina take place in the real world, or an imaginary one? You've referenced Victorian England, but on the other hand I've gotten the sense that it's fantasy.
[elisabeth grace foley

do any of your characters originally come from outside of our own planet earth? 

Elisabeth, you've hit the proverbial hammer on the head.  Tempus Regina is technically "historical fantasy," which means the answer is yes and yes.  It deals with real time periods (Victorian England, for example) and even some real people, but  it also incorporates time travel and dragons and, yes, also some "magic," so it obviously can't be marketed as straight historical fiction.  It's funky.

The best example of the genre that occurs to me off the top of my head is Anne McCaffrey's Black Horses for the King, a mostly historical novel set during the time after the abandonment of Britain by Rome, when the man who became the legendary King Arthur probably lived.  But we don't actually know that he lived at all, and since the story deals with legends, it's "historical fantasy."  And Tempus Regina is even more fantasy-driven than that.

In answer to Joy, the story takes place entirely in the real world; there is no inter-dimensional travel, not even of the vague That Hideous Strength brand.  Everyone is from Here, though whether everyone is human is debatable.  This also somewhat answers the question about religion in the story, but I'm planning on giving that its own post, since it demands fuller explanation.

...so is Regina in any way related to the Arthurian legends? ...is there any connection between Morgaine and Morgan le Fay?  I hope not.  I love Morgaine.

Tempus Regina is, like Black Horses for the King, a novel of legends - a novel of the stuff that "dreams are made on."  When she travels back in time - when she finds herself burdened with the role of time queen - Regina is tangled up in the threads of the two most fantastic and enduring legends of Western culture. Which legends those are is, for the moment, open to speculation...though I will say that those of you putting money on Arthurian legend are more likely to see a return on the investment.

As for Morgaine, she is, well, Morgaine.  And not as likeable as her Beautiful People appearance has (it seems) led many to believe.  In fact she's quite annoying and I'd like to hit her with a frying pan.  Interpret that as you will.

June 24, 2013

On the Fifth Element

pinterest: tempus regina
Goodness, but you readers have a heap of questions!  I've enjoyed watching them flood in, and I'm trying to keep track of them in an orderly way so none fall through the cracks.  If I miss any, be sure to give me a sharp jab with the elbow.  (I'm particularly gratified to see the Assassin getting so much attention - though I still refuse a straight answer to any questions about his identity, his love-interest or -interests, who he works for, and probably his goal.  Which I think may have weeded out half the questions.  He will, however, be getting a post of his own soon with a few half-answers for you, so don't despair!)

I'm not taking the questions in chronological order, but I am trying to give them some sort of order and reply to the similar ones at once.  The most foundational seemed to be the question of time-travel, so I thought I would address those first and see if I could clear the matter up a little.

how does Regina travel back in time?

My word.  I've never actually said.  Huh!  Anyhow, the time-traveling device in Tempus Regina is an object that looks like a pocket watch and which is "set" much as one might set a typical clock; apart from the perfection of the workmanship, there is at first glance nothing very remarkable about it.  Its history is explored in a little more detail within the scope of the story, of course.

I don't remember why I chose a pocket watch, except perhaps that I've always been fascinated with them.  There is something enchanting, something mysterious and magical, about the working of all those tiny gears for keeping track of time - even more mysterious and magical after reading a book like Longitude or watching, as I just did recently, as vivid a movie as Hugo.  It's astounding to see the lengths to which men have gone in order to chart the skies and the passing of time, amazing to just glance at their ingenuity in capturing something so vast.  And then to shrink all of that intricacy down to something the size of a pocket watch: that confounds me. 

re: the time-travel, do you adhere to any strict rules and/or address the cause-effect paradoxes involved, or in true Whovian fashion do you just use the concept and ignore the paradoxes until one of them happens to make a convenient plot hook?

You would ask this.  You would.

Short answer: Mostly I ignore.  It's so much easier.

Long answer: I can honestly say that since I don't watch Doctor Who, any similarities are both unintentional and very unfortunate.  At least there aren't any blue boxes involved.  I should probably take out the sonic screwdriver during the editing process, though...

There is a helpful graphic (which looks as though it might have been created by the XKCD guy, though I don't think it was) on Pinterest that outlines three theories of time travel.  Theory Number One is the Fixed Timeline, wherein the characters may travel back in time, but the future they leave remains unchanged and cannot be changed by their actions in the "past."  Their actions are already a part of history and cannot be finally altered.  Theory Number Two is the Dynamic Timeline, where the actions of characters who have gone back in time have definite effects on the future they've left.  Kill your grandmother, you die too.  That sort of jazz.  Theory Number Three is Multiverse and deals with parallel/alternate timelines, and I don't mess with that, so we'll leave it alone.

Tempus Regina is primarily a fixed timeline story, where actions are integrated, as it were, into history.  However, there is also tension between that and the possibility of a dynamic timeline, since certain characters cannot know how their actions will affect the future (or if the actions will have an effect at all).  Can a character die before being born?  If someone kills her own father, will she be destroying herself?  What's happening to Kay while Regina is gallivanting in the past?

Based on our own linear thinking, I don't believe time travel would be possible because of all the paradoxes it creates.  You're faced with one at every turn.  Time "travel" would have to be, not actual physical travel, but a mental ability to "see" all times without actually affecting them.  Even if you try to get around the linear idea (there are two competing theories presented in Tempus Regina, neither of which I actually adopt, though I would enjoy seeing readers duke it out over them), you would still only end up with some sort of cosmic pretzel as proposed in the extremely highbrow "Kate & Leopold." 

...so yes, for the most part I ignore.

June 20, 2013

Curiosity Ends Here

pinterest: tempus regina

I have not been terribly vocal about Tempus Regina over the last few months - really, since I wrote Lionheart in March.  Was it as long ago as that?  Goodness!  But my silence has not been to imply that I haven't been working assiduously over here in my little writing corner, which is in fact not a corner at all; I have been writing.  The silence proceeds more from not wanting to give much away, from the frightful conceptual tangle that is the story, and from my closing in on the end than from any dillydallying. 

But now that I am approaching, by fits and starts, the final chapter of this book, I thought it might be a good idea to do (belatedly) the same thing that Jenny is doing for her novel Gingerune.  That is, invite you all to ask questions. Obviously the plot seems fairly clear to me, but considering my oysterishness, you probably find it about as clear as mud.  I don't promise to answer all questions - asking who Regina's love-interest is, for instance, will not help you and might get you beaten with a spoon - but as long as I can work out a reply without giving spoilers, I'll be happy to do so. 

So what would you like to ask?  What things have I said to baffle you?  What nonsense is it that I've been writing?

bring it on.

June 17, 2013

A Monstrous Little Voice

This month marks the end of an Epoch.  Or of my high school career, at least, which is as near to an Epoch as an extremely ordinary life ever gets.  On June 1 I did one last round of tidying up - a bit of accounting review and such like - and closed the book, literally and figuratively, on that period of school.  My senior year is squarely behind me and I am looking down the road to a busy summer and, afterward, entrance into college.  Among other, more remarkable implications, this means that for as long as I like, I don't have to pick up another work of Shakespeare.

For those of you who follow me on Goodreads, you already know that I've been jumping from Shakespeare to Shakespeare ever since August.  He was my literature course this year.  Having already done the usual British and American literature, and probably some others that I can't remember now, we were a little at a loss when it came down to my senior year.  The choices were Eastern literature and Shakespeare, and I'm glad we decided to go with the Bard.  Nine straight months of him has been a strain; I can't imagine what nine straight months of Confucius would do to me.

The school year has, I think, been fairly evenly divided between tragedies and comedies (with a few histories thrown in, and sonnets at the end):


As You Like It, which demanded too much suspension of disbelief;
Much Ado About Nothing, a favorite;
Twelfth Night, another good, lighthearted romp;
A Midsummer Night's Dream, enjoyable but a little brief;
The Taming of the Shrew, possibly the top of the list;
The Comedy of Errors, definitely at the bottom.

tragedies & histories

Antony and Cleopatra, which was almost laughable in its drama;
Julius Caesar, which was also over the top;
King Lear, depressing, but I appreciated it;
Richard III, full of propaganda, but it's got some great speeches;
The Winter's Tale, which doesn't actually fit anywhere because it's so weird;
Henry VIII, which was episodic and rather stilted.

Apparently I leaned more toward comedy, since many of Shakespeare's more famous tragedies, including Macbeth and Hamlet, I had already read.

I didn't enjoy everything: The Comedy of Errors, for instance, or Henry VIII.  Like all writers, Shakespeare was not amazing one hundred percent of the time (although I get the feeling that scholars would like to make him so).  He had plays that were disjointed, puns that stretched humor, and in the main his plots were lifted from ancient or contemporary writers - fortunately plagiarism wasn't a big deal unless the famous person was the one being plagiarized.  Characters are not always given, in a mere five acts, sufficient time for what we might call development.  And, well, there are just some plays that ride the coattails of others' successes. 

However, Shakespeare had to develop some coattails before lesser works could begin riding on them.  A few less-than-stellar writings cannot negate the genius displayed in the true masterpieces - the Much Ado About Nothings, the Richard IIIs, even the King Lears.  For Shakespeare had wit.  He had a deft pen, a way with words, a skill at creating something beautiful out of the English language.  This is particularly apparent in his Sonnets, which, I confess, I did not read straight through; but I had to go write one after I had read about 40, and let me tell you, a man who can write 154 of them is nothing to sneeze at.  

It is also comes to bear, though, on his plays, tragic and comic.  There's a reason Shakespeare is so widely quoted (often incorrectly, I'll grant, but still quoted).  In plays like A Midsummer Night's Dream he infuses the dialogue with a lyrical quality, while in the highflown speeches of Richard III he conveys desperation and, of course, villainy.  The hopeless babblings in King Lear encompass the bleakness of the story, and the writer does banter like nobody's business in Much Ado About Nothing.  Shakespeare was always Shakespeare; having read about eleven of his plays more or less in a row, I picked up Henry VIII and, not knowing that it is thought to have been co-written with Shakespeare's successor, felt that the style was "off."  But Shakespeare was also dexterous enough to craft a story out of comedy, out of tragedy, out of a tertium quid

Shakespeare is not altogether popular, and many shy away from him.  Either the Elizabethan speech is thought too hard, or it feels weird to read a play, or they "don't get him."  I was somewhat on the fence; I had read some of his works, even enjoyed them, but with no particular appreciation or relish until I started off on this jaunt.  I'm no scholar now and I admit I'm ready to take a break, but I have enjoyed scratching the surface and, through essays and reviews, observing the genius. 

I've also discovered that there really is no excuse for not delving into Shakespeare, at least a little.  Certainly it is best when performed, and performed well, but the beauty of the dialogue is not lost when read; and as for the style, while not every section makes perfect sense, context and practice do wonders for conveying Shakespeare's meaning.  It takes a bit of work, sometimes a bit of cheating and looking at Dover footnotes, but the more you read, the clearer it becomes.

As I said before, some scholars go overboard: all Shakespeare's works are good, and every element has Particular Meaning, and he was really talking about gender-equality-free-speech-nature-reason-the-mind-true-love-every-other-liberal-keyword-out-there.  Maybe he was.  Maybe he wasn't.  But the short and the long of it is that the centuries after Shakespeare owe him a great debt for his wit and for the beauty of his writing, and writers especially would do ill to discount him.

at the very least, a study of shakespeare adds some splendid quotes to your repertoire.

June 12, 2013

Interview with Mirriam Neal

Early this year - January, I think it was - I had the opportunity to read and critique Mirriam Neal's novel Monster.  Mirriam is a crazily likeable sort of a gal with crazily eclectic tastes, as she will be the first to tell you, and as you will see for yourself if you follow her blog for, oh, about a week.  Monster, too, is appropriately eclectic: Mirriam describes its genre as "bioethics/semi-dystopic/romance/suspense/thriller," none of which, I may add, I usually read.  But being more than willing to read anything with her name on it, I gamely started off, with my red pen, through a hardcopy.  

I can't remember how quickly I read it, but I know that about halfway I abandoned the red pen altogether: I was far too caught up in the story.  I also know that on the last day, it was 8:00 am when I first looked at the clock, and all of a sudden it was noon and I was finishing the last page with a lump in my throat.  It's that sort of book.

and now, ladies and gentlemen, it is going to be available for you.

 The release date is set for June 15, and Monster's birthday will be celebrated with a great big bash: everyone who possibly can should buy the novel on this day, which will up its Amazon ranking and bring it very well-deserved attention.  (I know: I even got to write an endorsement for it.)  Mirriam is celebrating the release with interviews and a giveaway and I-don't-know-what, including this here interview with yours truly.  I recommend joining in the fun, whether or not the novel sounds like your cup of tea from the description: the story it tells of love and the sanctity of life is timeless.

back cover summary

The year is 2053, and Eva Stewart is a promising young scientist assigned to a remote Alaskan facility. Here she will work for WorldCure, a global organization dedicated to finding the cure for fatal diseases. Soon she is made a Handler and designated her own Subject for research and experimentation. However, Thirteen is not what she expected, and Eva is soon drawn into a horrific plot kept quiet by WorldCure. As everything she thought she knew collapses around her, Eva must discover the truth behind her Subject, her beliefs…and herself.

chit-chat with mirriam neal

1. Many of Scribbles’ readers already know you, but introduce yourself anyhow! Tea or coffee? Dogs or cats? Biggest goals? Favorite pair of socks?

If I have tea, ninety percent of the time it will be PG Tips black tea with cream and agave. PG Tips is the standard British tea – it was in Doctor Who. I also drink a lot of black coffee – I generally have between four and eight cups of tea and/or coffee a day. I prefer horses and the occasional phoenix, and though I don’t usually wear socks, I have two favorite pairs: A pair of fuzzy purple ankle socks, and my candy cane-striped Christmas knee socks with faux fur around the top. Worn only in the spirit of the season, of course.

2. What is your perspective (or philosophy, if you prefer) on writing and story-telling in general? How do you approach the crazy business?

“Use earthly tales to tell heavenly truths.” I don’t think I have much of an approach to the crazy business other than love it and live it – I have to work at balancing out my people-oriented life with my writing-oriented life.

3. What are your top five favorite books, at least at the moment? (I’ve been kind: I could have said just one.)

…thank you for being so lenient. Five. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Ah…I love so many books, it feels like more would be favoritism! The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, The Riddle-Master Trilogy (YES, A TRILOGY. HA HA.) by Patricia McKillip, my large book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the Bible.

(She cheated.)

4. What’s Monster all about, anyhow? (Well, I know, but others don’t.)

Monster is all about sanctity of life, the value of souls, and what true love means. For me, it was a huge growing process, and it changed the way I look at life.

5. What are some of the things that inspired Monster and kept you writing?

Monster was largely inspired by Big Bang’s music video/song of the same title. Also, I read a lot of medical/thriller-style books, listened to my Monster playlist…really, it wasn’t hard to stay inspired. It was as if everything around me inspired me, no matter what it was.
Without looking back at them, Eva walked farther into the room, rushing blood filling her ears with white noise as she strained for the smallest sound to alert her of Thirteen’s presence.
She stood still and tense, listening, for almost a minute but no longer. There were dozens of other rooms to search as large as this one. “Nothing here,” she called to the guards by the door. There was no response. “Guards!”
She turned, and her blood ran cold. The digits 6223-4897 glowed in the air in front of her. A serial number.
She found her gaze travelling upwards to meet a pair of narrowed eyes. All blue was lost in the hatred-filled yellow, and Eva had time only to turn on her walkie-talkie and shout into it before she felt a blow to the side of her head that knocked her to the ground.
She had assumed incorrectly. Thirteen had not gone looking for freedom. It had gone looking for her. 
6. Your writing is very character-driven, and your characters are incredibly unique. You’re going to hate me for this, but give us a one-word description of each of Monster’s main players.

I don’t quite hate you. Almost, but not quite. ^.^ Mir: Childlike. Eva: Driven. Pocky: Mentoring. Ross: Twisted. Jude: Annoying. June: A bund of cute brightness and sunshine. I mean, cute.

7. Monster doesn’t have a single genre: it’s about bio-ethics, and it’s futuristic, and it’s a thriller, and in a way it’s also a love story. To date, how many different genres have you written in, and are there any that you have absolutely ruled out experimenting with?

I’ve written…ooh, let me think. High fantasy, urban fantasy, quasi-fantasy, modern, science fiction, summer fiction, Steampunk, dystopian, historical fantasy…I don’t think there’s any genre I’d really keep my hands off of – I used to hate historical books, but I realized it depends on the author. Such a big, stupid “Aha!” moment for me!

8. As you wrote the novel, were there aspects that took you by surprise?

Mir constantly surprised me. He took on a life of his own beyond what I could ever have imagined, and after a while it was he who called the shots, not me. A lot of things – especially near the end – surprised me.

9. If a reader told you one main thing they loved about Monster, what would you want it to be? 

If a reader could tell me one thing they loved about Monster, I would want it to be Mir; because Mir embodies everything I did my best to portray in Monster. He’s the heart of the book, and if people can love and understand him, then they love and understand the book.

10. What novels are you working on at present? 

Oh, my. Acceso, a sort of grungy music book about a suicidal musician and a deaf girl. Not to Be, an urban fantasy/slightly Steampunk novel about a Lamia Venator on the hunt for revenge. The Meaning of Always, about a girl whose fiancĂ©e dies and shatters her life until she meets the twin she didn’t know he had. The Care and Keeping of Jupiter: a futuristic, science-fiction love story about Mercury, a girl who orders a Proto-human online with no idea what she’s getting into. Painkiller, a gothic fairy-tale sort of novel with hints of Beauty and the Beast mixed with Jekyll and Hyde. Diamond Black about a boy whose empathy could either be the death of him, or the saving grace of the people he loves.

(And that, people, is how you write a logline.  In a perfect universe.  My eyes particularly popped at The Care and Keeping of Jupiter, which I now want to read - a lot.)

Mirriam Neal is the bouncy gal who blogs about writing, reading, and life over at Thoughts of a Shieldmaiden.  You can learn more about her and her writing, and keep your eye out for the grand finale of the release, over there.  You can also take a peek at Monster's very own Facebook page, where she reveals snippets of the upcoming sequel, book trailers, and Fun Stuff Like That.  On a slightly different line, Mirriam reviews (mostly) YA books on her Tumblr account, Peic Books.

June 5, 2013

Book Sale

Last June, The Soldier's Cross and The Shadow Things were on sale for $0.99.  It seems to be a summer trend, because we're participating this year in a larger "indie" e-book sale.  (I don't think we qualify as indie, but they very nicely let us join anyhow.)  If you haven't had a chance to get the novels yet, or know of someone who would like some historical fiction to read, click a button and get them on your Kindle!  Be sure to check out the other participants as well; whatever your tastes, you're pretty certain to find something that suits.  (And that includes Finding the Core of Your Story.)

Be sure to join in the giveaway, too, by spreading the word about the sale.  The grand prize is a $100 Amazon giftcard, so take a moment to tweet, or like, or follow, or do whatever the recipe calls for you to do.  'Cuz prizes are awesome.  Enter via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the post.

here are the books in the sale:

By Luke Alistar
By Kendra E. Ardnek
By Katie Lynn Daniels
By Molly Evangeline
By Ophelia - Marie Flowers
By Elisabeth Grace Foley
By Jennifer Freitag
By Jessica Greyson
By Aubrey Hansen
By Sarah Holman
By Abigail J. Hartman
By Holy Worlds
By Rebekah Jones
By Elizabeth Kaiser
By Jacob Lauser
By J. Grace Pennington
By Jordan Smith
a Rafflecopter giveaway
meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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