Books

tropes i would like to see more of

I read a lot. And when I find certain things (Tropes? Themes? i no do wurdz) in fiction … I perform an inner happy dance and gobble the book down whole. Here are a few reasons for such exuberance, expressed in words. And gifs. Gifs are gifts.

mawwied couples

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I … have a dream. A dream that a healthy marriage will be portrayed in fiction; where the lead character would be married and that this would simply be the backdrop to the actual story.

Sometimes it’s just nice to read of a stable relationship; to not get readerly stressed when oh, no! look! they’re not communicating again. Gee, I feel so shocked.

And sure – there can be some conflict in their relationship but not major conflict. There is a difference.

Books I’d Recommend:

188230The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters: think archaeology, romance, humour, lots and lots of dead bodies, and Egypt. And a cast of characters you will grow to love over a nineteen book series. Though, you know, it should come with a warning.

WARNING! READING ANY OF THE AMELIA PEABODY SERIES WILL INSTALL A STRONG DESIRE TO:

  1. brandish a parasol
  2. find your very own Radcliffe Emerson.
  3. war with a dastardly arch nemesis
  4. solve grisly crimes in Egypt
  5. be a terribly good archaeologist

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just do it!

I cannot respect characters that have good intentions, but are side-tracked by a pair of bootiful, bootiful [insert colour here] eyes.

If you’re going to take down an evil emperor, stand by a resolve, keep to your morals, or read every single book in the Great Library of Alexandria … then you should do it. You should just darn do it.

Kill the bloke. Don’t eat that ice cream. Kick temptation in its face. Invent time travel.

Do not, I beg you, think, it doesn’t matter that he killed my best friend and thousands of innocents, but I can’t kill this evil king because he might possibly have a Tragic Past and more depth than a puddle.

Feelings. Bah. So much selfishness is committed in their name.

15839976Books I’d Recommend:

The Red Rising Series by Pierce Brown: Darrow needs to bring down an entire class system. And by golly, he just goes for it. The series is bloody and brutal, but I like it. I like it a lot.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: this is one of my favourite classics. Because Jane Eyre? She stands by her principles – even though it means she loses the man she loves.

a slow burning romance

If you tell me a character loves just for the sake of love and oh he said ‘I love you’ so they definitely ARE IN LOVE AND IT’S TWU WUV AND YOU WILL BELIEVE ME. JUST BECAUSE I SAID THEY ARE … I won’t always be able to see it.

I like watching a romance grow – slowly, steadily, quietly. The sort that creeps up on a character until they think: oh, that’s what it is.

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Sure, ‘love at first sight’ can happen; in fiction and real life. But I adore reading fiction where you can believe and see that maybe, just maybe this is love – not because the character declares it every. other. page (I could say that I am a dragon-slaying astronaut, for sure, but that don’t make it so) but because we – the reader – have watched it grow.

Books I’d Recommend:

Devil's Cub (Alastair, #2)Gosh. This is a hard one. Buuuut … I’ll pick these two. And one of them – in a shock twist that surprises absolutely no one – is a Heyer:

The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer: I view this book as one of the most wildly romantic books I’ve read, purely because of one, rather ridiculous statement that Vidal passionately utters in a climactic scene.

The action begins with the lead kidnapping the heroine. The heroine isn’t impressed. She shoots him. And thus marks the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar: containing a cringeworthy scene full of second-hand embarrassment, this book has a marriage of convenience that changes into something more as the heroine grows and the lead realises that hey, maybe he kinda leapt to conclusions.

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happy reading!

Life, On Writing

highlights of text butchery

thepunone.JPGI’ve been quietly editing Insalted for some time now. However, only recently did I bite the bullet and print the whole thing out.

There’s a lot of it. I don’t know if it’s my dramatic usage of paragraphs, the halts for Bolded Lists (I haven’t a better name for them), or if I’ve completely got the spacing wrong, but I’ve ended up with 334 pages to edit.

!!!

Usually, I just employ a liberal use of a pen, butchering this and scribbling out that. HOWEVER, with this manuscript, I have a better plan. As per usual, I butcher … but I also use highlighters and sticky notes.

I have four colours and these stand for a sub-plot, a mega-plot, background info, and THE ROMANCE THREAD.

(And yes. That deserves capitals. I’m quietly proud that this story HAS A ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!)

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like this cover. but with more clothing

Why Using Highlighters Is A Highlight of Editing:

  • You can look back on a butchered page and think: my gosh, this looks legit! Maybe I am a Proper Writer after all!
  • It teaches you to never underestimate the importance of the highlighter in validating your career choices.
  • You can actually keep track of each plot line – how much of this plot is in this chapter? Do I need more? Less? How much ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!! is in it?
  • If you are a visual person, you can sum up what happens per plot line at the beginning of the chapter, and strike it through with the appropriate highlighter. It looks very pretty! And is useful. That’s 100% my reason for using them.

workspaceistidyMy work space isn’t very tidy. I have several coloured labels that er, I thought were sticky notes when I bought them. (SPOLIER: they weren’t.)

Now, they hang about like I did around other earthlings, wanting to be cool and useful but never quite making it.

(HANG IN THERE, LABELS! YOU’LL FIND YOUR SPACE YET!!)

I have highlighters, sticky notes, pens, hair things, soap, books, tea, an empty purse, and a laptop for music just chilling on the desk with me.

It is clutter, but I am of the opinion that I work better with clutter than without. (I have no wish to test this theory.)

Recently, I butchered into the wee hours and  … I felt like a Proper Writer. I was haunted and hunched over with a blanket about my shoulders, eyes stinging, hand wielding pen and highlighter with fervor.

It was a wonderful feeling; I am doomed to plenty more of it.

SIDE NOTE: I’ve discovered that THE ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!!! comes more easily when I’m tired. I haven’t re-read what I corrected last night, but I’m sure that it’s all coherent.

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Books, podcast, Uncategorized

podcast // wishes, crusaders, and gardens

If you marry a man for his bank account, you’re called a gold digger. So what do you call it if you’re marrying a man for a rose garden … a garden digger? … a gardener? No? Okay. [The Rose-Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer]

And Phyllis Braithwaite, the little Liberry Teacher who had been living in a hall bedroom on much less money than she needed, found herself alone, sole mistress of the great Harrington house, a corps of servants, a husband passive enough to satisfy the most militant suffragette, a check-book, a wistful wolfhound, and five hundred dollars, cash, for current expenses

 ebook // podcast site // audiobook

Books, Recountings

Recountings: Eloping Sisters and Replacement Brides

A long time ago, I discovered something wonderous … free books! And so I dived into that marvelous place known as Project Gutenberg. Many adventures did I have, and here is one of them …

Marcia Schuyler

by Grace Livingston Hill

First, a confession: for an obscenely long time, I had no idea how to pronounce ‘Schuyler’. I ignored it, pretending it was a sort of ‘Marcia S-silentletters-ler’. I only knew that I enjoyed reading this book.

Now – let’s not dawdle, let’s plunge in and see if I can convince you that you will enjoy it too.

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Our story opens with fresh-faced and innocent Marcia leaving her home to pick berries. She will sell these and use the money to buy some fabric for a dress she wants to make. In a few days her sister is getting married to David. David is a Man. A Good Man. A Worthy Man.

Only … Kate, her sister, is a flighty thing. A selfish flighty thing. Marcia doesn’t see this – she loves her sister, after all. But the facts are there and Kate is a Piece of Work.

Things Happen. A small (not an enormous amount) of drama ensues: Kate is being a little too friendly with a Captain What’s-His-Face, David arrives home in darkness, mistakes Marcia for Kate and kisses her. Over the garden gate. ON THE LIPZ!!!

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In a gentle and pleasant way, David brushes this off like he does his teeth every morning*. Kate is still a Piece of Work and Marcia is gradually growing to wish that she had her own Good ManTM.

And then … and then the morning of the wedding dawns. But Kate isn’t there! Her bedroom is empty. Empty! Rather thoughtfully, she’s left a note. But a note doesn’t really replace a bride.

Poor David – the woman he loves has eloped with dashing Captain Thingybob. Poor Kate and Marcia’s father – he’s shamed, shamed!

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Something must be done. But what?!

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And it is here that Marcia’s life changes. Because her father speaks:

“It is terrible!” he murmured, “terrible! How could she bear to inflict such sorrow! She might have saved us the scorn of all of our friends. David, you must not go back alone. It must not be. You must not bear that. There are lovely girls in plenty elsewhere. Find another one and marry her. Take your bride home with you, and no one in your home need be the wiser. Don’t sorrow for that cruel girl of mine. Give her not the satisfaction of feeling that your life is broken. Take another. Any girl might be proud to go with you for the asking. Had I a dozen other daughters you should have your pick of them, and one should go with you, if you would condescend to choose another from the home where you have been so treacherously dealt with. But I have only this one little girl. She is but a child as yet and cannot compare with what you thought you had. I blame you not if you do not wish to wed another Schuyler, but if you will she is yours. And she is a good girl. David, though she is but a child. Speak up, child, and say if you will make amends for the wrong your sister has done!

Yup! You read that right – seventeen year old Marcia is offered to David. As a replacement bride. To stop the scorn, right a wrong and save the family name.

As you do.

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And Marcia, pitying David and feeling so very sorry for him says …

“If David wishes I will go.”

(This is just chapter five, by the way.)

So she marries him.

And the equation of:

heart-broken man + innocent young girl + marriage

goes just about as well as you could expect. And this is just the start, folks. There’s Miranda (who’s brilliant) and a Dangerous Man and Betrayal and Anguish and Moral Peril and Bonnet Buying and a satisfactory Villain Is Found Out scene and … it’s clean, dramatic perfection.

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// … and you can enjoy it too, right here //

Happy Reading!


*this metaphor may not make much sense, but I feel quite proud of it. Actually, this begs the question – would David brush his teeth every morning? Because … time period and history and hygiene. Hmmm …

Books, Characters, Quotables, Recountings

Recountings: how do you reform a rake?

Instead of sorting out bookshelves, I’m reading what is on other bookshelves. Dashing and arrogant heroes? Abductions? Intrepid and brave, take-no-nonsense heroines? Fabulously funny side characters? Hilarious dialogue? It can only be a Heyer.

***This Post is Lengthy But Contains a Life-Changing Answer.***

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Devil’s Cub

by Georgette Heyer

The Marquis of Vidal (whose father is the ‘hero’ of These Old Shades) is forced to leave England due to nearly killing someone. His morals lie in the rakish direction and so he decides to take the young Sophia Challoner with him. To France. With no marital ties involved.

How outrageous! How immoral! But fear not –  Mary Challoner is to the rescue. For the message that comes to her house is for her sister but is addressed to ‘Miss Challoner’.

“It’s a letter, miss, brought by a footman. For you,” added Betty, in congratulatory tones. Betty did not think it was fair that Miss Sophy should have all the beaux, for Miss Mary was a much nicer-spoken lady, if only the gentlemen had the sense to see it.

(Too true, Betty, too true.)

Mary is no fool and has been Suspicious of the Marquis’ intentions all along. She opens the letter. She sees her sister’s fate. She thinks. She acts. She takes her sister’s place!

“… it is plain he has no thought of marriage. I have a plan to show him she is not to be had so easily.”

– from a note to her Mamma

I like her already. She pops a mask on and with a mingling of fear and brave resolution heads off to show Vidal who’s boss. All is going according to plan – he suspects nothing as he bundles her into the carriage. And then they ride. And ride. She finds a pistol and bags that pistol. They go on. And then she sees that they’ve travelled to the sea.

He was going to take her sister to France? Of all the-! The time to act is nigh. At the inn by the sea, she takes off her mask.

The smile was wiped from his face.

She pretends that her deceit was a part of a jest with her sister.

“You need not think, my lord, that you can seduce Sophia so easily. She led you on finely, did she not? But when she found you’d no thought of marriage, she determined to teach you a lesson!”

It … doesn’t go down the way she expected. Vidal sort of shrugs his shoulders and says ‘fair ’nuff – I’ll have you instead.’

Proving that – at this point, at least – he is Without Conscience (and is basically a jerk) he forces her on board the boat. And then he turns his wicked gaze to her with a threatening ‘And now, Miss Challoner …”

wriggling eyebrows are not stated, but I like to believe that they’re implied.

However, Mary has other plans. Or rather, Mary’s stomach has other plans.

“I do not care whether you go or stay, but I desire to warn you that I am about to be extremely unwell.” She pressed her handkerchief to her mouth, and said through it in muffled accents: “Immediately.”

(Trust Heyer to flavour a scene of High Peril with a bout of seasickness.)

They arrive in France. Vidal has been indulging in the cups. They are alone. Poor Mary’s virtue is at stake. She is in a strange country with a dangerous man. She has no one to help her and only her courage to rely on. Well. Her courage … and a pistol!

“My lord,” she said desperately, “indeed I am not what you think me!”

He burst into one of his wild laughs, and she realised that in this mood she could make no impression on him.

He was advancing towards her. She brought her right hand from behind her, and levelled the pistol. “Stand where you are!” she said. “If you come one step nearer I shall shoot you down.”

He stopped short. “Where did you get that thing?” he demanded.

“Out of your coach,” she answered.

“Is it loaded?”

“I don’t know,” said Miss Challoner, incurably truthful.

He began to laugh again, and walked forward. “Shoot then,” he invited, “and we shall know. For I’m coming several steps nearer, my lady.”

Miss Challoner saw that he meant it, shut her eyes and resolutely pulled the trigger. There was a deafening report and the Marquis went staggering back. He recovered in a moment. “It was loaded,” he said coolly.

With a single shot of a pistol, Miss Challoner’s honour is saved and a Rake is set on his way to Redemption and True Love (and bit of time bed-bound. After all one cannot be shot without a few trifling annoyances.)

Later on, this book contains one of my all time favourite Heyer scenes: take a misunderstanding, throw in a few swords, toss in a Marquis, add a large dose of melodrama and a dash of absurdity and it’s deliciously exciting.

“Mr Comyn would have been killed,” Miss Challoner admitted, “but I stopped it. I thought it was time.”

The gentleman surveyed her with distinct admiration, not untouched by amusement. “Of course I should have known that you stopped it,” he said. “What means did you employ this time?”

“Rather rough-and-ready ones, sir. I tried to catch the blades in a coat.”

And now, my friends, to the question of ‘how do you reform a rake?’ I put a single, simple answer:

Shoot him.