Saturday, March 23, 2019

Coming Soon to a Site Near You...




IMAGINE...


...that someone was offering you the key to a big old castle library that felt both old and new at the same time and was specifically full of fairy tales and fairy-tale-related things, including but not limited to:

~ lists of fairy-tale retellings
~ reviews of fairy-tale retellings

~ essays and blog posts analyzing fairy tales and their themes

~ writing prompts inspired by specific fairy tales

~ interviews with fairy-tale-retelling authors

~ mini galleries of fairy-tale art and products made by fairy-tale artisans

~ commentaries on fairy tales
~ links to other interesting fairy tale articles, including tips on writing fairy-tale retellings


Imagine you could have access to all that, in a website/blog form, with a full complement of social media to also follow.


Welcome to Fairy Tale Central, coming April 1 (no joke) to a website near you.


Friday, February 8, 2019

Fenspiders

When Mirriam and I sat down to do our latest prompt, I knew I wanted to twist something. Browsing my prompt board, the first one that jumped out at me was a quote I've loathed since I first heard it on the TV show The 100. The second is a random quote I saw while scrolling further, liked, and decided to add in. I mean, obviously.








“What we are inside, the good and bad of us, that’s not affected by what we have to do in this war. The deeds we do to survive. To win.”
   
“Bullswithel.”
   
“Fenspiders.”
   
Count Juveni raised his head and looked from Zia to Tancorix. “I beg enlightenment?”
   
Tancorix could have cheerfully hefted him into the nearest watering trough, bitter winter wind or no, but they needed the alliance this man would potentially bring. At the very least, his knowledge of the war college would be helpful.
   
Zia raised an eyebrow, and Tancorix shook her head, seething too much at the moment to rebut that without chance of magic erupting in an embarrassing or troublesome way. How dared this military peacock prance in here and presume to tell them how to run a rebellion they’d been doing just fine with for five months? And especially how dare he, someone who’d never seen active war service—border bandit skirmishes didn’t count—attempt to lecture them on battlefield ethics? As if he’d ever seen people under his command die at his side, felt their bodies fall limply never to rise again, reached out desperately with everything they had to attempt to heal the wounds taking the life from that person, smelled the blood staining the greedy earth beneath them…
   
She jerked when Zia’s fingers slid around her wrist and nodded once, quickly, before crossing the room to stand by the door.
   
“My lord,” few but Zia could make a formal address sound so much like an insult, and Tancorix almost cackled aloud with glee, “I’m not entirely sure I follow. I believe I missed the lecture the day that chapter of ethics was being taught. Perhaps it was before I joined the war college. How do you figure that what we do is different from who we are or who we become?”
   
The man, not entirely believing her studiously neutral question, nevertheless didn’t pass up the chance to pontificate.
   
“It’s quite simple really, and it goes back to the lessons on detachment.”
   
What a dull teacher he must have been. The wizard touched the fingertips of one hand to the palm of the other, murmuring an ancient poem about balance, and concentrated on guiding the sparks that leaped up into different shapes. It was the first time that she’d practiced it indoors, and had not the count irritated her so much, she may have waited another week.
   
Pompous, pretentious, know-it-all ass.
   
“…a two-step process,” he was saying now, delighted at his captive audience of one.
   
Of course, he had no way of knowing that Zia was signing sarcasm behind her back. And…oh. She hid a smile at the other thing Zia had just signed. Oh, excellent. She could do something with that.
   
“I understand detachment from emotion when making some military decisions,” Zia interjected, to keep the man’s attention from wandering to what Tancorix was doing.
   
“Like I said, it’s the same principle, just being applied differently…”
   
Then she heard no more as she slid out the door. A piece of juniper bark from the pouch at her side, a drop of red liquid, and a twist of wormwood. One spark to set it alight. She held her breath as she manipulated the spark; one wrong nudge of a finger and it would blaze too fast, the signal too brief to be seen.
   
There. 

She didn’t have long to wait until the answering flash of flame came.
   
When she ducked back inside, Zia was rising from her chair, leaning over the count, all pretense of being amiable gone. Grinning in pleasure, Tancorix joined her, playfully sending smoke to curl around Zia’s face in colors of dark blue, dark purple, and dark green.
   
“I could set this world on fire and call it rain,” Zia snarled very quietly, her voice the more menacing for being so tired. “I could rip your life into tiny shreds, and I could drag the king from his throne and feed him to the people he’s currently imprisoning in that white monstrosity he calls a flower garden. And when I was done, do you know what I would be, Count?”
   
He opened his mouth to speak, but Tancorix wafted smoke into his nose, and he coughed instead.
   
“Intolerable. A tyrant. Petty. Vindictive. Uncaring of the bigger picture. Taking justice into my own hands…”
   
Tancorix reached over and tapped her foot against her friend’s. Hurry up. They’ll be along any minute.
   
Breathing in slowly for a moment, Zia straightened, waved her hand at the wizard, and left the small house, closing the door firmly behind her.
   
“As she was about to say,” Tancorix perched on the edge of the table and swung one foot idly, her heavy-soled boot knocking rhythmically against one of the legs of the table, “the idea that the choices we make and the actions we take don’t affect our characters and spirits to some degree is the most ridiculous thing you could have said or taught.”
   
The man laughed.
   
He actually laughed. Granted, it was the laugh of someone who has finally realized just how far out of their depth they are but refused to give up their position, still believing implicitly in the doctrine he preached.
   
“My dear gir––” his voice choked off as Tancorix snapped yellow binders on his wrist and twined a length of compressed yellow air around his mouth. Tugging him up and pulling him with her, she stepped out into the chilly night, a clear sky spangled with peaceful stars an odd counterpoint to the twisted philosophy that had tainted the last hour.
   
Four masked people waited, and silently, Tancorix handed the count over to them.
   
“How is this not taking justice into your own hands?” he hollered in the brief moment when his magical gag was exchanged for a physical one.
   
“This?” Zia smirked and shook her head pityingly. “This is mercy. Toward you. And protection of my people, of course. You’ll be well taken care of and ransomed soon enough. Once there is no one who believes your stories of the rebel leaders.”
   
Grinning as they turned down the street toward a tavern whose lights still glowed yellow, Tancorix snapped her fingers and whistled. “Mead?”
   
“Mead. On me.” Zia briefly gripped the wizard’s shoulder, the only reference either would make for the rest of the night to the Count’s ridiculous assertion.



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Bringing a War

I've always liked this quote prompt, and I finally wrote something for it.
Set in the same world and with some of the same characters as the last two prompts, written to 30 Seconds from Mars' "Vox Populi" and inspired by the prompt:





   
“Are you sure about this?”
   
“Oh yes.”  Emerenzia’s eyes danced as she gathered her hair behind her back and secured it.  “Let’s set this brush pile on fire.”
   
Stepping regally from the tent, she paused until her eyes found the broad form of the opposing captain.  She waited until his eyes locked onto hers, and then she strode forward, alone but supremely confident, clasping her capacious cloak tightly enough together in front that it kept her fully covered.  Behind her, she caught the faint whisper of the back of the tent opening and letting out the Cats for their part in the game.
   
The band of people towards whom she walked was mostly male, with a couple of females behind the leader.  Scouts, her own head scout had assured her.
   
She halted ten feet in front of them and inclined her head slightly.  The other leader raised his eyebrows in answer.  Smiling, she took a step closer.  “Commander Engelier.”
   
“Commander Emerenzia.”
   
“It’s actually General now.”
   
She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen any man’s eyebrows go so high before. 
   
“Is it now,” he said flatly.  “You won’t receive that title from me.”
   
“Very well.”  She lifted one shoulder insouciantly and let it drop again.  “As I see it, you’ve been sent to persuade me to lay down arms and relinquish this—what did you call it?  Crusade?”
   
“I believe that was the word of my captain, not me.”
   
“Oh yes, your captain.  Basbrun, is it not?”  She let her eyes travel to the shortest man of the three foremost figures and rest there.  He frowned, presumably over the fact that she knew his name, but stared back for the space of several seconds, until his eyes dropped.  It was a brief hesitation, but it was there, and she smiled to herself.  She’d taken his measure correctly.  Brave, but didn’t have the stamina to go up against her people.
   
“Well, Commander, it would certainly benefit us both if this went smoothly.”  Transferring her attention back to Engelier, she saw a minuscule hope flash through his eyes and then die as he replayed her words in his head and caution reasserted itself.
   
“Yes,” he said warily.  “It would.  Milady,” he added.
   
She almost smiled again.  The honorific would do nothing to help his case.
   
“But you see, Commander,” she continued, “there are more than just me to consider.  I have a score of people here who would need protection.”
   
“We can offer that,” Basbrun spoke up.  “We’re authorized to give all your people clemency.”
   
“Hmmm.”  She tipped her head thoughtfully, eyes narrowing as she feigned consideration of the offer.  “You see, sirs, I’m not sure you really understand what you’re offering.”
   
The captain started to speak again, but his commander stopped him with a shake of his head.  “How so?”
   
“Do you know who I am, Basbrun?  For that matter, does your commander?”
   
“Lady Emerenzia of — City, teacher of foreign culture at the war college, probable minor strategy analyst at the same college.”  Basbrun rattled off the description as if well memorized, and Engelier couldn’t or didn’t choose to stop him this time.
   
Zia wasn’t given to gloating for long.  There were usually far better things to do, and satisfaction was better taken in bites over a period of time.  But his ignorance would enable her to save an entire patriot camp, display for these men the falsity of the so-called facts they’d been told, and possibly gain another ally, or at least create some neutrality towards her people.  That she got to show off her Cats was simply an extra bonus, like sunlight breaking through a cloud to illuminate a snow-covered peak.
   
So she smiled.  Slowly, small at first.  “Correct, Captain.”  Her smile widened.  “But only partly so.  My dear Vanora?”
   
Too busy looking around them for another person to approach, the captains missed the small, striped cat climbing out of the hood of her cloak and perching itself on her shoulder.  Engelier did not, and to his credit, he frowned, no doubt suspecting a trap of some kind.
   
He was quick.  Good.
   
“A cat?” someone said from behind Engelier.
   
The cat heard the words and stood up slowly.  At her full height, she still didn’t top Zia’s head, but her hiss was impressive, startling several people along the opposing line.
   
In response, six people filed out from behind the nearest tent, some forty feet away, and advanced single file on their general, who waited with a face set mostly in blank lines, though the suggestion of a smirk tugged at one corner of her mouth.
   
Reaching her, her Cats and captains fanned out behind her, Tancorix and Mirabelle alone stepping up to her right and left sides respectively.  Tancorix wore the long iron-grey cloak of a low-level wizard, and Mirabelle had donned light armor, her right hand resting on her sword.  Behind them, the other four people stood, two on each side of her position and, depending on the person, glaring across at Engelier’s people or regarding them with indifference.
   
“Impressive,” Engelier said when everyone was still.
   
“This?  Oh my dear Commander, not yet.  Master Tancorix?”
   
Basbrun startled, and his face darkened at the title she accorded the wizard.
   
Obviously, you still believed her a journeyman.  Or was there some other reason for his surprise?
   
Tancorix pushed back her cloak, raised one hand slowly, and then paused before snapping her fingers once. 
   
Emerenzia could have been more pleased at how dramatically it was timed.  Dark red smoke swirled around the cat on her shoulder and in the space between her left side and where Mirabelle was standing.
   
When it cleared, the cat was gone and in its place stood a petite woman in full battle armor, her silver-grey hair glinting in the sunlight, her hands on her hips, and an extremely unamused look on her face.
   
The opposite commander couldn’t help grinning.  “Okay, milady, that was beautiful.  But I still see no one to whom we cannot offer clemency.  You have a wizard, a shifter, a...” he squinted at Mirabelle and the others behind her, “and several rogues, all of whom are on wanted posters, yes.  But did you think we didn’t research you before setting out?”
   
Zia permitted herself a small chuckle, not condescending enough to be pitying but too short to be sympathetic.  “Ah, Engelier—I may call you that, may I not?”  Waiting for his nod, she continued through a smile.  “I stand, as do all of these with me, in opposition to an extremely corrupt, tyrannical, evil regime, for which you call us rebels and others call us patriots.  But did you think we came this far without a greater knowledge of you than you possess of us?  Every person you see here has fought through fire and blood and stands here today bearing more from their pasts than most of your people can imagine.”  Pleased, she noted the flicker of his eyelids at not being included in her accusation.
   
Moving down the line, she indicated the person furthest to her left, a tall man with shoulders like a bull.  “Deserter, betrayer of military discipline, saver of three villages after he himself razed two.”  She flicked her fingers at the woman next to him.  “One of the best and brightest of — City’s foremost military college, stole state secrets, personally holds the record for largest number of people recruited into the rebellion.”  She smiled at Mirabelle.  “Once the most industrious healer in — City, she’s aided more medical supply raids than any one person in the last three rebellions combined.”
   
“I don’t—“
   
With a shake of her head, she cut off whatever Basbrun was about to say.  “I hardly think the names Black Jade Fox and Snow Moon Tiger need explaining.”  With a flourish, she pointed to first Vanora and then Tancorix.
   
Shocked murmuring ran through Engelier’s band.  Who didn’t know those names?  She could almost hear the murmurs of the soldiers re-evaluating the threat level of the rebels.
   
Nearly done; just two more points to make.  She nodded at the man and woman who stood behind and to the right of Tancorix.  They yanked down the black masks that covered the lower portions of their faces, disclosing features known in eleven lands.
   
The entire front file of Engelier’s people reached for their swords.
   
“Stand.”  Their Commander’s firm order restrained them just in time.
   
“Oh.  That’s right.”  Zia turned around and gave him a bright smile.  “One last thing.”  She shed her cloak so it dropped on the ground, revealing her ranger’s uniform and the sigil for royal inspector.
   
She knew the precise second the knowledge of who she had been entered Engelier’s mind; it was reflected in his eyes and the long, careful breath he drew.
   
“Ranger Meren,” he said with resignation.
   
“Even so.”  She crossed half the distance before them and waited.  Moving cautiously, he took the step still separating them and stood toe to toe with her.  Finally.  Time for the games to end and this regiment to be sent home. 
   
With a gesture that encompassed his whole force, she said clearly, “Believe and follow your king still, it makes no matter to me.”  Her eyes narrowed, but her lips turned up.  “But know this, Commander.  My so-called rebels would crush your regiment.  I would keep you alive, and when we were done, I would take you and lay you before the gates of the city, trussed like a dead boar as a message to your king.”
   
She let the words sink in, waited until their meaning was known by everyone on the front lines of both groups.  Then she lowered her voice slightly, slightly emphasizing each word.  “You want a fight?”  Raising one eyebrow, she smiled.  “I’ll bring a war.”



Thursday, January 17, 2019

I Have to Try

My random scene from last night's writing session with my writing partner, written to 30 Seconds From Mars' "Closer to the Edge" and based on this prompt:



   
“Zia?”
   
Everyone assembled in the tent looked up as the wizard poked her head in.
   
“She’s not here,” a silver-haired warrior said, standing up.  “Isn’t she in Command?”
   
Shaking her head, the wizard backed out of the tent, striding to the nearby rise with irritated steps.  Where under sunrays was the general?  She’s got an op to lead in less than an hour; she should be triple checking her plans and briefing her team.
   
“Cori?  Should we be worried?”
   
Tancorix spun around to see the silver-haired warrior had followed her, as had their chief healer.  “I don’t know.  I’ll let you know.  Search the lower tents again, please, maybe I missed her?”  She knew she hadn’t, but she needed solitude to listen. 
   
“I’ll check the healer tent,” Mirabelle said, eyes narrowed in an attempt to keep her concern from showing too openly.  “She has two lieutenants in there now.”  The healer went off down the rise at a speed that would have been called a fast walk…but only by someone seven feet tall with a long stride.  Anyone else would have called it running and would have been entirely correct.
   
“I’ll check Command again.”  The warrior’s copper necklace threw back a flash of sunlight as she spun and hurried off, her braid bouncing and slapping against her neck.
   
Left alone, the wizard closed her eyes and breathed deeply, centering herself.  Then, her eyes still closed, she reached out, searching for that wisp of dark purple.
   
There.
   
In the barracks?
   
What an odd place for her to be at this hour.
   
And what an odd vibe coming off of her.
   
The wizard, to her credit, didn’t run toward the barracks, but those who passed her could tell she was bent on a purpose and merely smiled or called hellos instead of trying to stop her for conversation, as they otherwise would have.
   
She caught up with the general as she exited the barracks.
   
“General, please!” a young man scarcely old enough to grow a beard tumbled out of the barracks on Zia’s heels.  “Please, I…” he trailed off when he saw the wizard.  “Milady Tani.”
   
Tancorix raised her eyebrows at the boy, one she recognized as a promising scout-in-training.  He sent her a pleading glance, and then his eyes fell before the general’s uncompromising posture.  The wizard nodded, mutely promising to try to find out what was going on, and fell into step with the general, heading toward their tent.  Zia was closed off to the point that the chill coming from her was alarming. 
   
The warrior and the healer, both in the middle of the camp on their quest to find Zia, stopped upon seeing her, and Tancorix waved for them to wait nearby but leave her to talk to the general.
   
The instant the tent flap dropped behind them, Tancorix circled around to stand in front of Zia.  “Talk.  What did you do?  Why does Meysu look like you kicked him?”  Her voice was sharper than she’d intended, but even trying to soften it didn’t quiet the worry bleeding into it.
   
Sliding a hand over her eyes, Zia was silent until she’d removed her cloak and flipped it onto a cot.  “I took him off the strike team.”
   
“Did he do something?”
   
“What?  No.  I just reconsidered.”  Zia sat down and reached for her combat boots.
   
Tancorix stared at her.  “I’m confused.  I thought you expressly added him to this team because it was as safe an induction as he could get.”
   
“I made a mistake.”
   
“Okay, now I’m getting worried.”  Clenching her hands tightly didn’t calm the power sparking under her skin but tucking her arms behind her back did at least keep Zia from seeing the orange glow.  In this strange mood, her general might well decide to simply shut down, pull rank, and leave.  “You, we went over the lineup of that team four times.  What mistake?  When?  What happened.”
   
Zia finally glanced up, briefly, but it was enough for the wizard to see the iron determination in her eyes.  “It’s too dangerous for him.  There will be another chance soon.”
   
No less befuddled, Tancorix blinked at her.  A rustling on the roof of the tent announced that the wind had made good on its promise to pick up pace.  Which was exactly what they were waiting for, because moving upwind, they’d surprise the garrison they were going to reclaim.  Time was running short, and the general continued dressing in light armor as if nothing was out of the ordinary.
   
“He’s good.”  She shifted and sat down, cracking her knuckles as Zia tightened her belt.  “He’s been waiting for this.  I don’t understand what’s going on.”
   
Abruptly, Zia wrenched her belt off and flung it onto her cot, startling even more tension into the wizard.  “I’m not losing him on his first mission,” the general said in a voice so stiff it was hardly recognizable as human.
   
Oh. 
   
This was about L.  The chief scout who was still missing.
   
Of course.
   
“So you don’t give him a chance to prove himself even?” Tancorix said gently.  Carefully, so carefully this had to be done.
   
“His time will come.  It’s just not today.”
   
“But another good mission might not come along for weeks, and he’ll be losing valuable hours he could have spent gaining field experience in the meantime.”
   
“Mmmhm.”
   
Tancorix had had enough.  In a single stride, she came up off the cot and wrenched Zia around to look at her.  “You can’t protect everyone,” she snapped, and the words held equal measures worry, understanding, and frustration.
   
Zia didn’t look at her, a surer sign than anything else that she knew she didn’t have a strong position from which to insist.  “I have to try,” she said in the weary tone of someone who knew they were stepping into an argument.
   
“No, you do not.  You think you do, but you know better than any of us that you can’t and sometimes you shouldn’t try.”
   
“I am his general!”  Zia flung her head back and matched the wizard’s glare.  “You can talk all you want to about how I need to give them a chance and how he’s suited for this mission.  I know all of that.  I gave him the chance in the first place.  But you know and I know that we could be walking into something more dangerous than I originally anticipated.  You dreamed darkly last night too.”  Zia chopped the sentence off and closed her eyes, muttering a calming word rhythm under her breath.  “I do need him.  But he’s not the only one I can take.  And I think that right now, for this sevenday, I have sent enough young people into death.  I don’t want one more.”
   
Tancorix sank back down, this time onto Zia’s cot.  Absently, she shoved the cloak under her off to the side.  “You don’t get to choose,” she reminded the general quietly.
   
“I know that!”  Zia’s words were little more than a hiss now.
   
“Then why aren’t you acting on it?”  The words were still quiet, searching.  “You’ve barely slept in a week.  This isn’t even battlefield unhealthy, it’s near-insanity unhealthy.”  She regretted the choice of words when Zia flinched and rushed on, “I didn’t mean insanity.  Well, I kind of did, but you’re not losing your mind.  Just your…you…you’re too tired, Emerenzia.”
   
Silence filled the tent, the general standing stone still, her eyes fixed on the single candle on an overturned box next to her cot.  Projection after projection spun through her eyes, racing to assure her that she’d found a way to accomplish the mission and not lose any more people today.
   
Then she sighed and sat down hard on Tancorix’s cot.  “Fine.  Yes.  I know.”  Reaching behind her head, she yanked her hair loose and began rebraiding it tightly.  “I know,” she added again.  Standing and picking up the discarded cloak, she swung it over her shoulders and started for the tent door.
   
“So?  Where are you going now?”  The wizard furrowed her brows deeply.  How exhausted was the general if she didn’t even give a proper conclusion to the argument?
   
“To tell Meysu he can come after all.”  Zia ducked out of the tent and then half turned to put her head back inside.  “Rixi?”
   
“Yes?”
   
The general searched her friend’s eyes, and Tancorix let trust and faith shine for her.
   
“Thank you.”
   
“Always, my general.”



Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Just For One Day

Now and then my writing partner and I feel like writing something random.  I find us several prompts, we scribbled something, sometimes it goes on to become more, sometimes it's one scene and then done.

My scene from tonight's session, based the prompt below and written to the soundtrack of David Bowie's "Heroes", The Script's "No Good in Goodbye", and Shiny Toy Guns' "Somewhere to Hide".





I never understood: why me. Why of all the people she could have chosen, why me to follow, to befriend, to love.

It was not an uncommon question for me to ask silently of any of them.  But it’s unimportant right now, in this moment flying too fast.

Her breath catches in her throat, and I press her hand harder, trying to hold back the ebbing life.  “Rest,” I urge, and my voice catches in a strangled sound like a rusty blade being pulled from an old sheath. 

Her eyes flash open, and I shove my feelings away so the worried look will leave her eyes, so that she won’t worry about me in these moments. Her last moments.

She is hard to fool, and her indigo eyes tell me that she understands. But then, she always did. “You did your duty,” she whispers. “We all did.”

Diola was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever met. Hailing from southern lands, her dark skin was highlighted with a dusting of gold freckles that always seemed to make her eyes glow like a lake under the noon sun…or so her second always used to describe it, especially when under the influence of too much tangerine wine after a long battle. 

He wasn’t wrong. 

Her black hair was always in five braids that represented each member of her family no longer living. Those braids are stiff with blood now, seeping from the wounds on her torso. The wounds no healer or wizard can close. 

She gasps, her fingers scrabbling in my hand, signaling for me to bend closer, to listen. I don’t want to turn my head to put my ear closer to her mouth because I want to hold her eyes as long as possible. I want to be the last thing she sees; I want her to know how sorry I am.

But who am I to deny the wish of a dying woman to salve my conscience? I tilt my head and lean closer, my ear level with her mouth.

“I wish…I wish we’d had more time to…gether,” she croaks. Her breath hisses through her teeth as she fights for one more breath and then another one.

“I wanted to turn to dust with you.” Her lips seem barely able to form the words, but she keeps going, and I can hear each one as clearly as if they cost her no effort. 

“I wanted to be your captain for a long time. To see your new kingdom. To grow old watching the children we all saved.” 

I want to tell her to save her strength. I don’t want her last words to be about her loyalty. About what she would have done for me. I don’t want to be reminded of the weight that is settling crushingly over my shoulders, never to leave it now. The weight of her death.

There have been so many deaths, so many people I’ve sent to die. That is a reality of war. But some sit more heavily than others, as hers will for time and an age.

I lift my head enough to meet her eyes again. They are starting to flutter closed, but they lock onto mine one last time. I bend to kiss her brow and as I straighten, I draw the sign for peace lightly on her forehead, clammy with deathsweat. 

She can still feel enough that she knows what it is; she has drawn it on enough foreheads in the aftermath of battles. Her lips twitch, and I know she is trying to smile.

“Never…stop...queen.” 

I stare into her eyes for a long time, but she doesn’t see it. She’s gone, fled with the echo of her last word to me. 

I wanted her to turn to dust with us too, my band of cohorts who have spilled more blood for this land than it would ever know, than the people we’d saved would ever realize. 

“Goodbye, Diola,” I whisper, folding her arms over her chest, and then, squaring my shoulders, I rise.
There is another battle to fight, and it will be won in her name.
  

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Myers Briggs and Why I'm An Adherent (mostly)




The Myers Briggs personality test.

You’ve heard it talked about, you’ve heard it screeched about; you may embrace it, or you may denigrate it.

It’s fraught with controversy (what great thing in life is not?) from those who say it’s bogus to those who put it on a pedestal and act like it holds all the secrets of the universe.  (Little hint, people: very few things hold all the secrets to the universe.  Very.  Few.  And this isn’t one of them.)

I’ve posted before about what it is and some of the positives and negatives of it, and you can click here for those posts if you're curious.

I loathe systems and labels and boxes, personally.  So why do I 'patronize' and endorse a ‘system’ that has ‘only’ sixteen types?  Why do I grin in glee when someone confirms their type, especially if I analyzed their type correctly?  Why do I find it relaxing or fun to make lists like ‘if MBTI was mythical creatures they would be….’?

Why do I personally love the MBTI and spend a fair amount of time reading/thinking about it? 

Because MBTI is less a ‘box system’ than it is a language.  One that makes it easy for people to understand other people and behavioral psychology.

I love psychology.  I love the science of how brains work and how people think.  So do many other people.

What I don’t love is how much of even practical psychology (as in psychology principles that are applicable to everyday life) is couched in terms that most people can’t understand without a Ph.D*.  What’s the point of figuring out how people think if you can’t explain it to others?  Or if you can't avail yourself of what knowledge others have compiled?  When you sit for fifteen minutes hunting all over the internet to figure out what in the name of common English a specific term means?  When you have to have an elite dictionary on standby to read any psychology paper?

What is the point of learning more about people and how they think if that knowledge is then restricted to the scientists and professionals?  When you have to (basically) have a degree to explain a term or a concept, you can’t disseminate that knowledge to a wide variety of people.  Knowledge can’t spread beyond the elite.

And really, who needs to know more about people than those other people who live with them and interact with them in real life on a day-to-day basis?

*I’m not knocking psychology, clinical psychologists, the science, those who train thousands of hours in it, or those who practice it.  Just pointing out how hard it is for most people to understand the science on a practical level.


MBTI, when you break it down into practical terms, makes it easier for people to understand how other people think and feel.  Why Person A reacts to X news by crying but Person B reacts to the same news by leaping into action and making plans for how to solve the problem and Person C already has backup plans in place because they guessed X would go wrong.  (And Person D freaks out and looks for an escape route.)

It’s the ‘oh, NOW I get it!’ light in someone’s eyes or their tone of voice after they hear/see that the reason they ‘usually react that way’ is not because they’re a flake, it’s because it’s a default emotional reaction and it’s okay as long as they don’t allow it to become a bad habit and as long as they then go beyond it to still deal with the situation.

It’s the realization that they don’t have to have a purely negative relationship with another person because now they understand how and why that person thinks and feels the way they do and knowing means they can now ‘work with it’.

It's the willingness and eagerness in their voice when they realize that their default needs to be overcome, needs to be worked with to make them a better person, more balanced––an eagerness that was formerly stubbornness because they couldn't understand WHY it was their default or why it was a problem in interactions with others.

It's the bittersweet tone in a person's voice when they face the fact that they've allowed something that's a natural reaction for them to become an excuse for immature behavior, but now that they've faced it, they can do something about it.

It's the shine in their eyes when they finally understand that a certain behavior of theirs isn't BAD just because other people don't understand it, it's just too different from most people or from modern perception that said people have to work much harder to'understand it.


MBTI makes it easy to explain and understand that yes, ENFPs are ‘all over the place’ with the way they think, and a) that’s not inherently bad, b) that’s an advantage sometimes, c) yes, while that is their default, they do need to accept that if they want to mature as a person and move forward in life, they do sometimes need to set specific goals, make some lists, and work on tying their brains down to a few things.

It makes it easier to communicate that yes, most ISFPs are sensitive people who don’t want to believe ill of anyone and loathe conflict, but sometimes they need to stop being so nice/timid/sweet and step up to the plate to stop a cycle of bad behavior—theirs or someone else’s.

It simplifies explaining that yes, you know what, a lot of INTJs seem like standoffish jerks, but frequently they don’t realize they’re coming across that way because what they are doing is trying to figure you out and how you fit into their world and how they need to approach you when they try to connect.

It’s like a code.  One which you don’t need a degree to understand or use, just common sense and an open mind (and learning it from the right sources).

NOW.
Yes, it's true that MBTI is easy once you know what it's talking about (and I don't mean Fe and Fi and whatnot...feefifofum, I smell the blood...). 
It's also true that it's easily misunderstood.  Like any language, sometimes you have to try a few different learning styles before it clicks and you really understand how it works.**


People are hard to understand.
People are confusing.
But people are also fascinating and intriguing and amazing.
(Most of them; I mean, let’s be brutally honest here: some are just…jerks, and no amount of explanation or understanding can make that better.)

So I love the MBTI classifications because every little thing that helps us understand people makes the world a better place, since the instant you understand yourself and those around you even just a little, the more equipped you are to being able to choose behavior and actions that make a better world.

That's why I personally love it.


**Stay tuned for Part 2: Myers Briggs and Misunderstandings


What are your thoughts on the Myers Briggs 'system'?  Do you know your Myers-Briggs type?


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Is Everyone Here Trained to Kill? a.k.a. My Throne of Glass Read-along




Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series, with its assassin protagonist, is one of the most popular YA literature series of the last decade.  I've seen it in libraries, bookstores, EVERYWHERE on social media, and had it recommended to me by numerous people.  In the midst of the acclaim, I've also heard some strong dislike for the series.

So of course I had to test it out for myself and thus picked it up one recent weekend.  For fun, I kept a running log of my reactions as I read the first seven chapters.  For all of you who recommended it to me as well as those of you who assured me that I'd hate it...here you go.


Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion (aside from a few editorial notes).  This is not an attack on anyone who is a fan of these books, nor is it a criticism of them or their choice of reading material or their opinions.  It is also not an open invitation for a defensive war of these books.  Furthermore, it is not a criticism of Ms. Maas herself, her editors, publishers, or fans.  If you can think of anything else I've missed, take it outside.

It is an opinion-slash-critique of the book itself (story and writing) from my perspective.



1

trained from birth to protect and kill = Really?  Because that's not cliché at all.  *eye roll* Though to be fair, I think Maas was near the front of the pack of those who have now made it cliché.

End of the first chapter and my current impression is: pretty standard YA fare that could benefit from a line edit.


2

How long are they going to pound into our heads that she’s an assassin?
Dear grief.  We get it already.  Blah blah blah, she’s been trained to kill.  She’s arrogant.  We get that too.
We don’t need it hammered into our heads.

Princes are not supposed to be handsome! They’re sniveling, stupid, repulsive creatures! This one . . . this . . . How unfair of him to be royal and beautiful. =  I’m sure this is supposed to be funny.  Instead it comes across as overblown and melodramatic.
Although...it is very teenage, and since that's what she is...score one for them.

“There’s a ‘best part’?” the Crown Prince said, face caught between a wince and a smile. =  This is actually a good line.

Coming within strangling distance of the Crown Prince of Adarlan, son of the man who sentenced her to a slow, miserable death, her self-control balanced on a fragile edge—dancing along a cliff. =  This sentence should have ended with the word 'edge'.  It did not need the ‘dancing along a cliff’ addition.

Less is more, Ms. Maas and editors.  Less is more.  Adding ‘dancing along a cliff’, especially after an em dash and not a comma, detracts from the impact of the sentence and confusticates the point being made.
Confusticates is too a word, textedit, good grief.  What language are you set to.


3

After all, you aren’t Adarlan’s Assassin for nothing. = *groooans*
Sounds to me like this little brat deserved everything she got in those mines.  Though I wouldn’t wish such treatment on almost anyone.


4

Of course, he didn’t mention how different she looked now that she was clean. = why would he?  It's not his job to go around complimenting her or making comments on how different she looks from one phase to the next.  What an unnecessary, egotistical sentence.


5

When are we going to quit with the phrases about being people trained to kill without hesitation, trained to protect which involves being able to kill, everything's about killing.  Is anyone in here NOT trained to kill, other than her fellow slaves?
I mean, there's making it clear that this is an assassin story and then there's, wait for it...OVERKILL.
Ah, yes.  I amuse myself endlessly.


6

He found her beautiful, = can we please stop saying in fiction that people ‘found others beautiful'? 
"Eureka!"
Yeah, see?  The whole Eureka thing really doesn't work as well unless it's something equally as entertaining as Diogenes buck naked in the streets of Athens screaming off his head about something no one has any idea of.
I wonder if he was ever forced to explain himself for that stunt.


7

“Yes,” he said, “you’d vanish with three arrows buried in your spine.” =  THANK you.  It’s nice to know that someone around here is currently capable of giving this balloon-headed wisp of a popinjay a setdown.

The Crown Prince of Adarlan stared at his father unblinkingly, waiting for him to speak. =  He may have actually done this and be good at it, but it reminds me that every time I see this phrase in a story, I want to ask the author if they’ve tried staring unblinkingly—not the childhood game but adult, focused, serious—and if they could do it or not.
It's not as easy as the words make it sound, believe you me.

His father rose from his throne and pointed at the map painted on the far wall of his council chamber. “I am the conqueror of this continent, and soon to be ruler of all Erilea. You will not question me.” =  WHY must all fathers/kings in stories say ‘you will not question me’.
Sidenote, the default I usually hear in my head when I see this used is Anthony Head in his role of Uther Pendragon in BBC's Merlin.  Which was actually a believable instance of its use.
Point is.
Let's stop repeating the same old same old.  Why couldn't he say, "Feel free to question me all you like, if you fancy a night without supper."  Or if he can't manage snark, why couldn't he say, "Not another word, brat..."??

End of the seventh chapter already?  I must admit I'm not impressed yet. 



And there you have it.  My snarky but honest thoughts as I read the first seven chapters of Throne of Glass.  Have you read it?  Can you tell me why you like it without starting a war?  (I prefer to wait to go into a war until I have more information.)


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Know Your Novel Part 1: The Rowan Cipher






My writing buddies and anyone who has done NaNo 'with' me or who knows much about me will be able to tell you that I always pick my NaNo project well in advance (read: a month beforetime a.k.a. at the beginning of October) because I need the time to plot it out before I begin.

At the beginning of October 2018, I wasn't at all sure what I wanted to do for NaNo.  Then one night, an idea came, I fleshed it out over the weekend, and by the middle of the next week had pretty much decided it was going to be my NaNo.  This was par for the course for me.  I talked it over with my MuseTwin and brainstorm partner, I threw the idea at Kate, I did a lot of plotting, I described it to a few other people.  The plotting went great, I had enough to go on to start the novel, which I was describing as 'a modern Korean Macbeth with dragons'.  I loved the idea, I was excited about it.

And then life decided that it favored a rather brutal approach to the last week and a half of the month.

And I wasn't sure that was the novel I needed to be doing right then.  I loved the idea, but the more I thought about it, it wasn't quite the right novel for my frame of mind.

What to do?

Fortunately, there was another book I'd mostly plotted and which was waiting, even to having written out several snippets.  I already knew and loved the characters and the plot.  I adored the world.  I'd spent a lot of hours thinking about this novel, playing with collages and aesthetics, figuring out the pieces of this story.

So, I switched novels.

And I'm very glad I did.  The other one waits still, ready for its moment in the spotlight, but this one is the one I need to be writing right now.


The totally sweet and fun and terrific Christine at Musings of an Elf has created a tag for us to showcase our NaNo novels.  I had the answers all written out with the novel I was going to do, so belatedly, here are my answers to the tag with the novel I am doing: The Rowan Cipher, book 1 in the Pendragons and Pimpernels series.



1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
King Arthur.
Basically.
I've loved the tales of Arthurian Legend since I was a child of seven or eight.  I fell in love with Arthur, with Lancelot too, with Gawain, with the ever-epic Merlin, with Percival, I wanted to be the Lady of the Lake or the best friend of Guenivere (c'mon, girl, let me give you a few tips about handling that many men at a time), wanted to smack a bunch of them and tell them to get their heads out of inconvenient places and THINK a little more, etc.

Arthurian Legend has sparked so many stories for me.

And between re-watching episodes of Merlin with my sister and watching old episodes of Mission Impossible, I had the nucleus of this series come together in my head.  A private security company, missions of high importance, personnel inspired by Arthurian characters.
I liked it.  Mirriam liked it.  Kate liked it.
But something was still missing.
Then one day it hit me, and I texted Mirriam, "IT NEEDS FAE.  MODERN FAE."
And she texted right back, "OMGOSH, IT DOES."

Voila.


2. Share a blurb!
Hah.  Right.  Well, I don’t have one yet.
I usually have one, but October was hectic and I didn't get one written.  The best I have for a tagline currently is:

Modern Arthurian-style Mission Impossible encounters Celtic Fae, English Mythology, and a Dan-Brown-like cult.


3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
The United Kingdom, 2018.

Favorite aspects...I'd love to visit England for a while, so getting to set a story there is great.

And autumn.  I love that it's happening in the autumn.


4. Tell us about your protagonist.
There are, as usual, multiple protagonists but two in particular are main:

Arthur Griffin
College educated, military trained, planner, intuitive leader.

Morgan Rhosdew-Griffin
Arthur's older sister, a baby when his mother married his father, MI-5 trained, intelligence analyst.


    “What, the British Army doesn’t teach its captains to arrive early to important events?” a feminine voice drawled behind him.
    “Hello, Morgan.”  He continued his slow turn, seeking out every corner of the room and filing away the locations of exits and entrances, as well as anything notable about the people gathering.
    “Arthur.”  Her sharp features relaxed into a smile when their eyes met.  “Does there happen to be a reason the head of London’s newest private security company is almost late to his aunt’s funeral?  Especially since I happen to know that he’s supposed to be on holiday?”
    At the signal in her eyes, he fell into step with her, casually angling their path through the room to a side door.
    “Paperwork,” he replied laconically.
    She didn’t call him out for the lie.  “And how is training your supposedly illustrious team going, oh glorious leader?  Really, I don’t know how you can ever accuse me of arrogance after this stunt.  You’ve thrown any future advantage away in one swoop.  The Pendragons?  That’s honestly what you’re calling your team?”
    He raised both eyebrows tauntingly.  “And what else should I have called them, Madam-I’m-dressing-as-Morgan-le-Fey-and-you-have-to-be-Arthur?  Besides, you set the bar by naming your super-investigators after an obscure but brilliant literary hero.  What else would have beaten the bloody Pimpernels?”
    Morgan’s eyes widened, her lips opening in a soundless gasp.  “Nowhere in my office is there the word ‘bloody’.  Would I dare tempt fate that boldly?”
    “No, you’ll just do it subtly,” he muttered.


5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
Ohhhhhh boy.  Spoilers, sweetie. 


6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Writing it.


7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?
Series.  It was always going to be a series.  The goal is to keep the books themselves shorter than what I usually write (no longer than 80-85K hopefully) but the series...there are so many books I could write.  Extra novels.  Spin-off novellas.  Short stories.
Who knows how many I'll actually get to, but there is a lot of potential here.


8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?
Plotting. Can’t live without it.  This book has less forethought plotting than most of mine, but there's been a lot of shower plotting and then hurrying to scribble down frameworks of chapters to write later.


9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.
I am rubbish at answering this question.  My standard answer always wants to be ‘I’m the person writing it?  Everyone brings a unique take to writing?’
I think the chance to try and turn some fae tropes on their sides and change it up a bit.  Arthur and the knights as private security.  Going back to the roots of Morgan le Fey where she was mostly a good, helpful character.


10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).
Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/melodymuffin/pendragons-and-pimpernels/

Soundtrack: CHVRCHES' new album 'Love is Dead' and Poets of the Fall's new album 'Ultraviolet' are on the playlist for this, as well as several British military marches and songs.



People I'd love to see answer this tag on FB or a blog or in the comments (no obligation, only if you want to):

Mirriam Neal (you don't get a choice, you have to do the tag)
Jennifer Freitag (not technically doing NaNo but you should meet her novel anyway because it's aces)
Katherine Sophia (also not doing NaNo but is working on a delicious novel)
Abigail Hartman
Suzannah Rowntree
Carolyn
Amy
Faith
Jack
Rachael Barcellano
H. L. Burke
Naomi Cohen
Jessica Greyson




If you want to do the tag, fire away!  Link back to Christine's blog post so others can see your answers.



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Open Letter to Publishers on the Subject of Their Websites




Let me begin by saying I’m not calling anyone out in particular.  This is not a rant nor a targeted exposé, simply an honest, open FYI from one person in the writing industry to others.

As an aspiring author who’s been doing research into agents and publishers, I’ve read scores of publishing websites over the last several months.  One thing I've noticed a lot is the lack of clear information about what publishers accept for submissions.

I’d like to bring a few points about this to the attention of publishers in the hopes of making the nerve-wracking process a little easier on both authors and publishers and saving everyone some time all around.


Submissions pages


If you want writers submitting to you, particularly if you want to be pulling in the kinds of books you are looking to publish, you need to give them more specifics about what you are or not seeking in an author's work.

If you prefer not to publish books with overt Christian messages, please say so on the website.
If you prefer books that would receive a PG-13 rating instead of a PG rating, state that.
If you want to publish YA and not MG fiction, but all you say on your website is that you ‘like unique, fun fantasy’ then you’re going to have authors sending you manuscripts you can’t use.  This wastes the time of the author and your acquisitions editor.

Consider.  It takes between five and ten minutes to open a pitching email and read a proposal.  Then it takes between five and twenty minutes to reply to the author either rejecting them right away or asking for their manuscript.  Then, once you’ve read the manuscript and realized it’s not what you’re looking for, it’s taken you between two and six months, if you’re operating at industry standard.

Whereas if you had just put a line on your website that said ‘we prefer books closer to the PG-13 or R range than a PG range’, or had said ‘we prefer to publish only romance books or books where the primary plot is mystery, no matter what other elements your story contains’, the author can read that and immediately know that you’re not a good fit for their fantasy romance-with-a-hint-of-mystery book.

Depending on how long your Submissions page is, it will take the average author between three and ten minutes to read it.  Another five or so to re-read the list of submission criteria.  Another five to triple check it when deciding whether to submit to you or not.

Thirteen to twenty minutes overall that the author spends, which equals the publisher not needing to spend any time at all on a book that won’t fit them, thus leaving their time open for those who do fit enough of the criteria to give your company or agency a shot.

If you make sure that what you're looking for is crystal clear on your website, preferably with a concise list of 'yes, we want this kind of thing' and 'no, we don't want this kind of thing', you're not only making it easy on authors and yourselves, you're impressing anyone who reads the site with your professionalism and clear communication.  They'll remember that, and, even if they can't submit to you themselves, they're more likely to recommend you to others.


FAQ pages


‘Well, if we were to list every jot and tittle of what we are or are not looking for, the submissions page would be too long.  That’s why we tell people to look at our past catalogue.’

That’s a valid point and all very well and good… except for two things.

a) Taking the last point first, if you don’t have much of a back catalogue yet, authors can't go to that to judge.  Also, if you expect authors to actually read some of your back catalogue to see how much of it is like theirs, you're asking most authors to put too much time into trying out for your press when they can find another that has similar criteria but laid out concisely enough between submissions and FAQ pages that they don't have to spend ten+ hours reading enough of your back catalogue to try to figure out if their fiction fits your press.

b) And this is the more relevant point, this is what FAQ pages are for.  For the details, the questions and answers too long or numerous to make it onto the submissions pages.

Recently, I emailed a girl who is beginning her own publishing company to ask her several questions about what specifically she was looking to publish.  She replied with a lengthy, informative email, and then added that she was probably going to put the answers up into an FAQ page on the website for others with the same questions.

THAT is professional.  That is the easy, smart, sensible way to handle inquiries regarding particulars about your goals. 

No, you probably won’t have the time or space to list every single inquiry and answer on your FAQ page.  But the more common inquires and/or inquiries from one person that it seems like others might also have should be listed on a FAQ page.

If the author still isn’t sure if their book is a good fit for you after having read the submissions page, they can go to the FAQ and sort through the information there.

It isn’t a foolproof plan to eliminate anything you won’t be interested in.  That is why you have acquisitions editors.  But this can save authors and publishers/acquisitions editors a lot of time and trouble.


"But", you ask, "what if we don’t have the time or manpower to write detailed submissions or FAQ pages or keep them updated?"

Then, with all due courtesy, what are you doing in the publishing world?  Please step aside and make way for the professionals who will make the time to smooth the process out as much as is sensibly and reasonably possible.


Have a good day... and may your publishing companies thrive.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Legend...or History?




Recently, the trailer for a new Robin Hood retelling was released.  The movie will be directed by Otto Bathurst and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson.  If you haven’t seen it, go check it out.  It’s chock-full of dramatic, hilarious action and adventure.

For the last week, I’ve seen and heard a lot of hate—or at the very least, mild disapproval—for this trailer and upcoming movie.  The main objection from people seems to rest on one fact.

It’s not historically accurate.

Ironically, the favorite Robin Hood retelling for a lot of people is the anthropomorphic Disney Robin Hood, and I haven’t heard many people complaining about the unrealism of THAT one.  Its whimsically memorable representations of King John as a sniveling brat, Robin as a bold fox, and Little John as a lovable bear have enthralled hundreds of thousands since its release.

So, to be honest, I’m not really sure why this new Robin Hood is getting so much hate. 

This new spate of trailer-bashing reminds me of the negative reaction the BBC’s 2006 Robin Hood show received from a lot of people—mostly, I believe, historical purists or historicity snobs.

(Side note: can we bring back the BBC's totally fun medieval-style re-tellings of legends from that decade?)

This cracks me up, for two reasons.

Argue all you want to and cite as much evidence as you like for Robin Hood being a historical figure.  I will heartily endorse anything that supports that.
But.
There’s a reason it’s called a LEGEND.

Currently, (correct me if I’m wrong) I don’t think it can be incontrovertibly proven that Robin Hood was a historical person.  And even if it can, you’ll never find historical documents describing the band we all know so well from the legends: towering, faithful Little John, minstrel Alan-a-Dale, beautiful and feisty Maid Marian, brash Will Scarlett, loyal Much the Miller’s son.

Which begs the question... does historical accuracy matter every time a legend is retold?  Every time Robin Hood or King Arthur is re-adapted for the page or the screen, should writers make an effort to stick to historical accuracy?

I don't personally think so, no.

I think that the most important thing to remember in retelling a legend or fairy tale is that the spirit of the story matters more than the 'letter'—any supposed historical basis or fact.  The theme of the story is what looms larger than life and keeps successive generations coming back for more or giving the story their own interpretations to reflect the changing times while preserving the heart of the story.

Sure, there are some things you probably shouldn't mess with too much—like setting a King Arthur 'resurrection' story in America, since he’s essentially a British hero and the legendary prophecy says he’ll rise ‘when Britain’s need is greatest’ and newsflash: America isn't part of Britain anymore, see: Revolutionary War—but in general, the field for retelling a legend is as wide open as is that for retelling a fairy tale.

The spirit of a story is the core theme underlying it, not the strict facts that comprise it.  With Robin Hood, this is a band of rebels fighting the 'establishment' or government, waging a sort of guerrilla war on the greedy oppressors of the common people.  It’s the idea that good still exists and that there will always be found those who are willing to fight for it and fight for a better way of life.  It also contains the reminder that even in the darkest times, humor can still be found: Robin Hood tales abound in pranks being played on powerful people.

The theme underlying Arthurian legends overlaps this in the realm of hope, illustrating that when a group of people cares deeply about something and are determined, they can not only drive oppressors out, but also create a wonderful society in its place.  (Okay, so, it at least TRIES, though we all know how that turned out.)  It follows with a warning theme: beware greed, ambition, and betrayal because they can tear even the best things apart from the inside out.

And semi-sidetracking into classics, the Three Musketeers is all about brotherhood and loyalty above all else.  They’re maybe not always the most morally admirable guys, but the point of the story is that awesome things happen—including saving the country—when you are incredibly, almost fanatically, devoted to friendship.

The Scarlet Pimpernel showcases the idea that even if something is not your trouble or your problem, you can still help, and there’s little that a loyal band of people can’t do.

(Yes, it has not escaped my notice how similar the themes are in these stories.  There’s a reason they’re classics or classic legends, people.)

Incidentally, when retellings or adaptations of these stories have not been restricted to historical accuracy or the exact structure of the original tale, they've tended to pull in a lot of new fans, broadening the exposure to the original stories.

For example:
Robin Hood = BBC’s 2006 show + the Disney movie
King Arthur = BBC’s Merlin + the musical Camelot
The Three Musketeers = the imaginative, steampunkish, 2011 version + the new TV show
The Scarlet Pimpernel = the 1982 movie, which was mostly correct historically, but which jumbled together details from three different books in the series.
Pride and Prejudice = dislike zombies all you want to, but as far as story structure is concerned, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did a great job of maintaining the spirit of Austen's classic while giving it a new spin.


I'm not bashing all historical representations of the legends.  I have thoroughly enjoyed some historical or pseudo-historical adaptations of Robin Hood and King Arthur.  I'm also personally writing at least one historical fantasy Arthurian retelling.

I simply suggest that historicity all the time is unnecessary, else we'd never have any new imaginings of the tale.  I think staying true to the underlying theme in a legend, classic, or fairy tale is more important than strict historical accuracy.


I’m planning to give the new Robin Hood a chance.  It might be great.  It might stink.  But I’ll wait to bash it until after it’s had a fair trial.



(+ if I wasn’t already planning to give it a chance, my best friend would make my life miserable.  So, y'know, there’s THAT.)