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Archive for the ‘Maven II’ Category

Publisher’s Weekly Review of Maven Fairy Godmother Excerpt

I am so thrilled to get a pre-publication review of Maven Fairy Godmother from Publisher’s Weekly on the Amazon Breakout Novel Award promotion!   I am certainly willing to “smooth out the prose.”

Manuscript Review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization
Maven, a dissatisfied middle aged woman with dismal job prospects, gets tapped for a new job-fairy godmother in the Faery dimension. The job comes with nigh-limitless magical powers and a set of carefully defined rules. Senior Fairy Godmother Fiona firmly believes in upholding the archetypes of stories and doesn’t like how modern-day Maven breaks the rules, forcing her charges to acts of self-realization and independence. Fiona’s other charge, Tulip, struggles to come to terms with her changeling birth and must commit to a life in Faery or in Mundane. Ultimately, the novel follows Maven’s training, as well as the deftly interwoven lives of her “clients,” or women whose wishes she has granted. This fairy tale world, while somewhat self-aware, has a keen understanding of the roles archetypes play in fiction, but manages to subvert them. The author raises questions about the absence of middle-aged women in fairy tales that draw obvious parallels to modern-day existence. A bit of work on smoothing out the prose and explaining the world in greater detail would go far in making this novel a remarkable piece.

 You can help me build my platform for Maven! Please go to Amazon, download the free excerpt of Maven Fairy Godmother, and if you like it, write me a review. (the more stars the better… :-))

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Novel Structure and a Hook

This simple structure comes from Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method of plotting a story:

sentence one: introductory sentence.
sentence two: disaster #1
sentence three: disaster #2, caused by consequences of actions taken because of disaster #1.
sentence four: disaster #3, caused by consequences of actions taken because of disaster #2,
sentence five: resolution and closing

It’s the basis of all screenplay writing and other how-to-plot materials. The introductory sentence is the statement of who and where the protagonist is now. Disaster #1 is the inciting incident, coming no more than five pages into the story, after the perfect world is set in motion. It’s called the Initiation in the Hero’s Journey. Disaster #2 is what happens when the protag responds to Disaster #2–a.k.a. the Road of Trials. This leads to Disaster #3, The Dark Night of the Soul where the protag either reaches within to find the strenght in the Shadow or we have a tragedy. The resolution plays out the results and brings the story back to where it started, the Return.

James N Frey suggests that in addition to this structure, the author needs a premise, a point that is illustrated by the story (NOT a moral tacked on to the end.) The premise gives the plot and the disasters a thread of logic and meaning–that is, if you want to write a DAMN GOOD NOVEL. Don’t we all?

So here’s my stab at this process. I have a premise, and lucky for me, the preliminary scribblings I have done do fit this premise: Gratitude is the only way out of the prison of guilt.

In this case, the imprisonment has to do with the feeling of being stuck because one is grabbing too much to try to have security–like the money with his fist caught in the jar of nuts. He won’t let go enough to let his fist out of the jar. The characters work from a sense of guilt and try to atone through magic or through controlling the magic of others.

All my characters have some guilt (or at least resentment, which is a component of guilt). this is a second novel in the series, so there is lots of baggage from the first. Set in the dimension of Faery, where the Fairy Godmother Superior manages the wishes and in some cases, the lives of the populace.

Sentence One:

The number of wishes to be granted in Faery have grown to an unmanageable proportion, so Maven is sent to recruit missing fairy godmothers to help with the overflow.

Disaster #1:

When Maven finds the first FGM on her list, she is captured and threatened with being drained of her magic, and possibly her life.

Disaster #2:

Along with the normal folk who want wishes granted, monstrous creatures–trolls, ogres, and other beasties are seeking Maven to grant their wishes, thus sucking up more magic from the realm of Faery and threatening its very structure.

Disaster #3:

d’Book, alter ego of a secondary character whose magical ability is to take magic from others captures Maven, threatening all of Faery in his bid to rule the magical world, and thereby to destroy it.

Sentence Five:

Hwo does she get out of this? Probably by not doing magic at all. Could be interesting since she’s not a ninja, or sorceress or even a halfling with a disappearing pig trick.

More later. Meanwhile, Check out Randy Ingermanson’s fiction courses!

A word after a word after a word…

“A word after a word after a word is power,” according to Margaret Atwood, and she ought to know.

A new learning for me is that writing about why I am stuck is still writing, and I like it better when I write on the blog rather than scribbling in some notebook that I likely can’t read next week. I like seeing what I am thinking, and that opens up ideas that I would not have considered otherwise.  It allows nearly forgotten memories, thoughts and beliefs bubble to the top where they can be exploited.

So, despite a rather drippy episode with my sinuses (TMI, sorry!)  I sat down BIC-HOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard) and tapped out one word after another between draining my nose.  I didn’t feel good. I didn’t feel like writing.  I had no inspiration except for the image of the scene I didn’t want to write. But I wrote anyway. That is the secret, and apparently it is one I will have to learn over and over.  

I couldn’t see how a person would survive being strangled if she were dead to the world in deep sleep, so I woke her up enough to realize that something was not right, hearing her antag banging around in the dark, looking for the wand that they both need to get away from their current location. Then I was free to write the fight scene with my protag having something of a fighting chance.

Two insights into writing on the same day. What a relief! After getting the first 600 words out, another 1000 came right along behind, and I discovered that a third character has information that the protag Maven and the readers will need to tie in another thread  concering some other clients of hers–dwarves. Maven has her own thoughts on dwarves

As James Braush is fond of saying, take action. So, having gotten through one scene, I cranked into another, leaving me a good starting place for today.  As icing on the cake, another writer left me a comment with some insights to her own process.  Take a look at Mystery Shrink’s ideas on writing and learning from the movies.

Guilt and Gratitude as a Novel Premise

The sequel to my first novel [soon to be a major something or other!!!] centers around the effects of guilt, both felt and denied, and the effect of gratitude in dispelling guilt and reversing its effects.  I did not know this until I had written a few thousand words, and started to try some outlining and brainstorming.

 I’m not an outliner, very much seat-of-the-pants muddle along writer, but I wanted to get this draft cranked out a in fewer than two years, preferably six months. So I’ve been trying James N. Frey’s Damn Good Novel techniques and Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake. But I could not figure out what my main character wanted–she had her wish granted, but the Happily Ever After just hadn’t kicked in for her.  She was waiting for the other shoe to drop. But another character, the male lead, had a serious guilt problem–his girlfriend ODed, and he felt responsible. 

Then I had a conversation with my favorite poet and spiritual advisor, Chris Wilkerson, about guilt, and he told me that the opposite of guilt was gratitude. The scales fell from my eyes and I saw how each of the characters from opus one had regrets and s’psostas  that they hadn’t worked through.

But one character in particular was grateful for her wish coming true, and she did not find herself stuck worrying about the past or the future. That was when I knew my premise:  Only gratitude can release one from the imprisonment of guilt.

Seems like a worthwhile idea to explore,  a serious message. Now all I have to do is to find funny ways of expressing it without preaching and without being obnoxious.  I saw the Eight Reindeer Monologues this weekend, and it taught me a strong lesson about parody not being necessarily the most effective way to get a message across.  I do not ever want someone to laugh when one of my characters says “I gave at the office. I was raped.”

But that’s a blog for another day when I have less to think about.  Today I am thinking about my own denied guilt and how the ways I get stuck are tied to guilt and denial. And I am thinking about gratitude and how many things for which I am truly thankful, even though Thanksgiving was last month.  It’s still Hallowthankmasnewbowl Season.

Is there a good guilt, different from remorse at being caught, and is there any value in it other than its push to repent and find redemption in forgiveness?

Can one forgive oneself, truly and deeply, not denying responsibility but allowing and accepting the past as it is?

Is wallowing in guilt worse or different from denial that guilt or responsibility exists?

Can one truly learn to be grateful for the mistakes that one has made, in order to see the growth that was prompted by the mistake?

Theses are the questions which I will pose to my characters and see how they will respond.

After all, response-ability is different from guilt. One who is guilty has no ability to respond or to act unless there is redemption from without and gratitude within.

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