Wednesday Words: Fourteen Hundred Cowries and Other African Tales

It is the last Wednesday in January; can you believe it?!

It's also the 5th Wednesday in the month, which means another glimpse into what I am reading! I'm doing research for a new NA/Adult fantasy project, and the research entails looking into African literature. I was really excited to find my library network had a few books, and the first one I'm reading is Fourteen Hundred Cowries and Other African Tales by Abayomi Fuja.

 I'm really excited by the stories I've read so far. We don't get the chance to learn about these tales in school unless you take a college course, but if only people could see more origin tales and mythologies from outside of Europe! These tales are clever, funny, and a little dark. There are a few fables I never would have heard about had I not picked up the book. One tale in particular that sparked my interest, "The Twins"--because I have an infatuation with twins and like to put them in my stories--had an interesting plot featuring the revenge of a sea monster's mother. Sound familiar?

There are tales explaining why leopards have their spots, why the ega bird isn't hard pressed to have its young taken away by hawks (that one was funny), and tales that show just how clever tortoises are (I love turtles and tortoises). It's a fast read, so if you get a chance, I urge you to take a day or two to read these tales.

What are you reading this week?

Final Fantasy Friday: FFIX's Dagger and My Jonnie

Happy Friday!

On the last Friday of the month, I geek out about anything Final Fantasy. If you don't already know, my YA fantasy project Fractured Princess is an homage to the franchise, and I use influences from the games in my story. One such is Princess Garnet, aka Dagger from Final Fantasy IX.

My main character Jonnie is based on Dagger. I was playing FFIX when I started writing FP. Dagger was a very proper, very naïve princess who wanted to figure out what was up with her mother who had basically lost her mind and was attacking other kingdoms. It was hard for Dagger to fit into the general public because she spoke so properly, so there were many moments where she practiced speaking like her laid-back, sarcastic co-MC Zidane, an actor/hired thief. Still, she often got herself into more trouble than she could handle because she'd been shut up in the castle all of her life and didn't understand the world.

This is one of the first concept drawings I had for Jonnie, back before I changed the color of the Crystal Bearers. When I first wrote Jonnie, she spoke super properly. When I think about it now, I cringe. I was trying really hard to go for that Euro-medieval dialect, and it was terrible. She was also very sheltered and child-like, but unlike Dagger, Jonnie was a very reactionary character, only acting when things happened to her. Dagger had a solid motivation before we even knew what it was: she was going to escape the castle to get help for her mother (what she didn't know was that her uncle Cid had hired Zidane's crew to kidnap/rescue her, but it worked out perfectly).

I had to get Jonnie to that point of being proactive, find out what she wanted before all hell broke loose and how it would fuel her motivation once everything went left. In the last couple of revisions, I decided that instead of just wanting to survive (because that's super basic), Jonnie would want to learn to fight off danger alongside her Watchmen. Subconsciously, I continued to model her after Dagger, who refused to sit by the sidelines as the world around her fell apart. Both girls have an overbearing protector over them, though Steiner is FAR more annoying than Cyan, but they're not afraid to butt heads with them to reach their goal, and that makes for interesting princesses and much rounder stories.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday Tales: Sitting Down with Jonnie

It is time for the first Tuesday Tales of 2018! I have set aside the 3rd Tuesday of the month to share tales about my project Fractured Princess and speak to the characters when they a moment free. I liked the questions I had Jonnie and Cyan answer about Cyan last month, so I thought I would have Jonnie answer them about herself this time around. Let's see what she has to say.

Hi again!

Hi, Jonnie.

What words or phrases do you overuse?
Jonnie: Well, I suppose I always counter my own thoughts, so I say "howbeit" more than most. I like to see both sides to an argument, howbeit. Damn it all!

How do you display affection?
Jonnie: Though I make sure I know them very well before I do so, I like to hold hands or hug. It makes me feel warm.

How do you want to be seen by others?
Jonnie: I want others to see me as strong, independent.

How do you think others see you?
Jonnie: Hm . . . I believe most see me as child-like, certainly carefree.

How do you react to praise?
Jonnie: I love it! *laughs* I don't have many chances to try things out for myself, so when I'm doing well, I love the encouragement.

How do you react to criticism?
Jonnie: I don't love it as much, but I understand its necessity. If no one ever corrected anyone, where would we be?

What is your perception of family?
Jonnie: Family is . . . the people you would die for, and the people without whom you would die anyway.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Jonnie: Never look back. Always move forward. You can do it.

That's all from Jonnie for this week. I hope it's warmed up for some of you. We've gone from single digits and below-zero winds to a pleasant 27 degrees. Ha!

Wednesday Words: Shades in Shadow by N.K. Jemisin

Happy Hump Day!

Is this week dragging for anyone else?? Maybe it's just that slow so I'd remember to post. I set aside the second Wednesday of the month to share with you all what I'm reading or writing. I've written up a storm the past couple of days, and on different projects, so that's always a good thing. I'm also reading poetry at the moment, and I don't feel like sharing that.

What I will share, though, is what I read last week, and that was N.K. Jemisin's Shades in Shadow, three short stories preceding the stories in the Inheritance Trilogy.

Anything N.K. writes about Yeine, Nahadoth, Itempas, and anyone else in that world, I'm here for. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms was my first taste of her writing, and I was hooked for life. These short stories especially make me want to reread the trilogy sometime this year. I'll share a piece from "The God Without A Name," a glimpse into the life of Nahadoth's human prison after Yeine freed him and made the prison its own half-god person (Hado in The Broken Kingdoms, Ahad in The Kingdom of Gods).

"How's my other half?" he asks, to be cruel and to distract himself. "You and Nahadoth getting along? His black hole finding your balance beam with no trouble and all that?"

She chuckles. "You're very predictable. He doesn't ask about you at all, you know. Why would he?"

She takes off, running into the ocean and jumping gleefully into a wave that is cresting near the shore. He leaves while she's preoccupied so she won't she how much her words have hurt him.

I like this moment because he tries really hard to act like he hates Yeine and Nahadoth, but it's clear he doesn't.

What are you all reading this week?

IWSG: This is The Voice!

Well, technically it's the voice.

Firstly, Happy New Year!

Secondly, it's the first Wednesday, which means it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Visit our great sensei Alex J. Cavanaugh and the IWSG site (linked in the previous sentence) to join us and visit the hosts for this month!

A couple of years ago, I said that I wouldn't do another pitch contest. Then, I entered Fractured Princess into one in Fall 2016, got a SLEW of agent likes and requests to see more, and then received rejection after rejection after rejection. Though I did get two "Can I see more?" requests after sending the query, so I didn't lose hope.

Fall 2017, I did it again after a major overhaul to the manuscript. I didn't receive as many likes, but that actually saved me some time in sending out queries. Unfortunately, no bites this time, either.

The general consensus is that the voice isn't grabbing them. This is one of those moments where I wish at least one person said WHAT about the voice didn't grab them, because then I'd know if it's something I'm missing, or if I just haven't found the agent who loves the voice. I don't want to lose hope, but it's not as close as it used to be.