Thursday, August 22, 2013

Get Ready for MSFV Baker's Dozen

Contests? They are good nail-biting, fun-filled ways to get feedback on your writing and possibly net you some new critique buddies, an agent, or even a publisher. I've been following Ms. Snark's First Victim blog for a little while and am amazed by some of the talented writing on display in her contests. For those who may not be familiar with this blog, the anonymous host offers secret agent contests most months but has an annual contest coming up called the Baker's Dozen with multiple agents reading and requesting submissions from those who enter.

If you have (or will have) a polished manuscript ready to go by the end of October click here for more info on the contest and good luck!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Should an Author’s Worldview Intrude on their Writing?

 Occasionally when I am reading fiction I notice that the author’s viewpoint on certain issues intrudes on the story. Of course, I realize that if we follow the advice to write what we know, all stories will be influenced by the author’s worldview. Sometimes, though, particularly with fantasy, but even in contemporary stories where the story’s world is not the author’s, the intrusion of the author’s worldview pulls the reader out of the story.

As an example, I recently finished Rae Carson’s Crown of Embers, the second in her Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy and, while I enjoyed and would highly recommend it (the third book comes out this month and I am looking forward to it!), there were a few spots where I found myself thinking more about the statement she was making than about the character’s motivations. Toward the end of the book, a minor character offers the main character, Elisa, a natural birth control remedy so that Elisa can feel free to act on her attraction toward her guard.  She accepts the remedy (after a brief inner struggle) in order to “be prepared.” The issue of birth control for teens aside, my main objection to this incident stems from Elisa’s role in this highly religious trilogy as the chosen one, a person of prayer destined to act heroically for the good of her people. Though this is a fantasy, the story’s religion as described closely adheres to Christianity, even quoting real scriptures. I have no problem believing Elisa would struggle with an attraction for a man she can’t marry, but she decides very quickly to give in to temptation. To be fair, the characters ultimately do not act on the temptation, but the lack of inner conflict about her desire vs. her religion sends the message that it’s okay to have sex and ignore your faith if your desire is strong, but be protected. That message contradicts much of what Elisa does as the chosen one so it’s unbelievable to the reader, though the author probably assumes it shows how much she loves her guard.

My own works to date are fantasy tales, where I am free to create a worldview and I have tried to make the rules of my fictional worlds fall in line with my personal beliefs while avoiding obvious real world intrusions. The next work I am considering is more of a contemporary story and I am already trying to decide how much, if any, “real” religion and values will enter the story. Again, I am thinking my beliefs as they impact the story should be invisible, not necessarily absent, but I want the reader to be immersed in my tale so much that it’s the characters’ beliefs, not mine, that affect their actions. In my opinion the more the character's beliefs match their world and experience, the more effective they are in drawing the reader deeper into the story.

So fellow writers, how do you deal with your worldview in your works?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Charmed Memories Review: a Fairy Tale Mystery

Charmed Memories is the second in the Princess of Valendria series by Mary Waibel and follows the adventures of Prince Trevor, brother of the first book’s heroine. His fiancĂ© Princess Elsbeth was lost at sea and presumed dead four years ago. Since then Trevor has refused to believe she is lost and feels honor bound to continue to search for her. In following every possible lead, he invokes the assistance of Woodland Guide Bri on his journey to find another clue to his fiance’s possible whereabouts. Bri and Trevor struggle with their deepening feelings for each other even as their search takes them to Elsbeth’s native country. Along the way, Trevor discovers Bri is the victim of amnesia. The closer they come to finding Elsbeth, the more their love for each other seems doomed. Trevor suspects Bri might be the princess he searches for, while Bri never realized how difficult helping Trevor would prove, nor how deadly.

This is the kind of book to curl up with late at night, romance and suspense intertwined with a fairy tale. Trevor is a conflicted hero, clumsy and somewhat clueless about Bri’s feelings for him, but devoted to his promise to the missing Elsbeth. Bri is a strong heroine who helps the prince because she loves him, but struggles with her fears at what the search might reveal to her about herself. The tension mounts throughout the story as it appears Bri may actually be the princess, or a girl promised to a different prince. The plot twists keep coming until the mystery is solved. For those who like me haven't read the first book, this book stands well on its own (though I plan to go back and read book one!).

The story is so fresh the fairy tale being retold is only hinted at until close to the end, but the mystery becomes more and more compelling. Some might consider this tale to be too divergent from the original version, but I think it adds to the romantic tension and a satisfying plot. The hero and heroine are well developed, with neither one being overly dominant and both having realistic flaws while proving themselves worthy of each other. If you like fairy tales and romance, this is the book for you!

In the interest of full disclosure I received a complimentary ARC of Mary Waibel’s Charmed Memories in exchange for an honest review.