We Need More Lesbian Knights

In the wake of being made redundant, hopefully scoring a new job with greater prospects, and forever waiting to hear back from my agent (I’ve bought Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018 because I’m beginning to worry he doesn’t have time to take me on – I also need to brush up on knowledge of publishing contracts), I am desperate to feel the all-encompassing joy and frustration of writing a new novel.

So as life throws its curve-balls and persistent hurdles, one challenge above them all is drawing near: NaNoWriMo.  NOT ANOTHER POST ABOUT NANOWRIMO!

If the title didn’t give it away, well, surprise! I’m writing about lesbian knights, and the setting is Fantasy-Middle-East and Fantasy-Scandinavia. I love romance, I love magic, I adore knights, and I want to read more f/f stories that focus on a plot instead of totally on the protagonist’s sexuality.

I was inspired by author Bridget Essex who writes f/f novels that cater to everything I ever wanted. Lesbian knights in exciting plots resulting in a wholesome, healthy, sustainable relationships where the drama doesn’t come from people trying to specifically sabotage the main love affair. But the focus of A Knight to Remember is very heavily on “getting the girl”, rather than about the beast that’s come to destroy Boston. I was blown away by how well it tied the threads together, but I wanted more…

After reading both A Knight to Remember and Date KnightI felt: I love this kind of story but want 10x more world building and double the layer of subplots. Basically, I wanted an epic fantasy that was about the epic fantasy, featuring knights who are also, btw, gay and transgender.

I’m looking forward to reading The Second Mango next by Shira Glassman, which seems to be exactly the kind of angle I’m craving.

Do you love knights, too? What would you want to see done differently with the classic, wrongly dishonoured knight story?

And are you doing NaNo? Let’s be buddies! And you’ve gotta tell me your elevator pitch in the comments! What’s your story about? Do you plan for NaNo? I’m planning the house down. What or who has inspired you to write your NaNo novel?

Here’s my synopsis: 

When an honourable knight is accused of murdering a foreign princess and sentenced to death, a witch swoops in to rescue her, on one condition: Nazirah must give the witch her first born child.

But Nazirah is a lesbian and likes the odds of never having to make that sacrifice, or so she thought. With the deal struck, she has one year to fall pregnant, or she will still die.

In a terrible world of demons, warring royals, and the unsolved murder of Princess Galiana, Nazirah is running out of time to either fall pregnant to save herself, to uncover the lies of a court she once loved, or to hunt the monster that could break her curse.

Getting Published: part…six?

Don’t agree to everything your agent says.

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Soooooo… Last time I updated, my agent Suresh and I were talking about THE ENDING of my novel. And we talked for nearly two months about the bloody ending. For the first time, I just couldn’t accept the changes he wanted me to make, full stop.

Originally, I’d written a happy book about a woman who creates dreams and adopts an unloved child. Now looking at it: it’s got a diamond heist, nightmares and no happy family. But it’s so much more exciting! Diamonds! Nightmares! A bitter-sweet, good-feeling ending.

Except Suresh said it tied up ‘too neatly and too nicely’. Everything gets solved. “What if the protagonist was wrong about everything and there is no diamond?” Well, at first that sounded like a great plot twist, except if there’s no diamond then everything throughout the novel was a red herring and there’s no alternative crime.

Suresh suggested the crime should be tax-evasion. BORIIIIIING. No. *stamps foot* No. No. No. We’ve been through magical worlds of magic, we’ve been promised apprehending diamond thieves, and to turn around and say: time for tax evasion and a miserable ending would feel like, I think, slapping the reader.

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I really tried to take on board his ideas and advice, which is why it took two months of agonising talks, but I just thought the suggested changes were…absolutely wrong. I colluded with Amanda Meuwissen, the lovely lady who agreed to edit my last draft, and she agreed with me that a diamond heist was way better.

Anyway, in the end, I wrote out a long proposal on everything that I felt could improve the ending but also why there should absolutely be a diamond heist. How it would be a let-down-ending to make the crime so mundane compared to the rest of the novel. I compared it to published books in magical realism that have taken the craziest scenario and been successful. I talked about audiences craving for superheros and high-octane dramas, just look at the box office.

Luckily my very, very long email was a success.

So now I’m beating my head against the desk as I research the Crown Court and how justice works if you’re prosecuting someone for diamond theft and your lead witness discovered it all in a dream.

Brb with a novel.

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Getting Published: part five

Rejection. Last update I said I’d applied to a few different agents and, whoop, they said “no thanks.”

BUT GOOD NEWS.

In a burst of despair and a need for closure, I sent an email to Suresh, my prospective but AWOL agent, basically saying, “Are you still working with me on my novel, or do I need to look elsewhere, because crippling self-doubt is eating me alive.”

Feeling emboldened, I contacted the previous managing editor of BigWorldNetwork, Amanda Meuwissen, a very nice lady who I worked under for four years as an associate editor, asking if she would edit my manuscript. I was so touched by her emphatic reply that, yes, she would love to, and that she’d do it for free because I’d edited one of her books for free during my time at BWN. So that put me in a real good mood.

Suresh replied within an hour, apologising for the delay and no update. He said he would read my revised manuscript THAT WEEK and call me for a review. By this point I was just stunned. I’d been so prepared to be turned away. Like, so utterly convinced of rejection that I was a bit out-of-it and deranged for the rest of the night. Two great things within the hour? Inconceivable.

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Would YOU Fall For Lord Voldemort If…

So, first of all, this amazing fan-made Beauty and the Beast/Harry Potter trailer:

Anything with Emma Watson in will clearly always be a Hermione AU opportunity. I wish I’d never given up video editing as a hobby now, but moreover, it got me thinking about what a hideous relationship this would be.

Bare with.

First of all: no way do I take this video seriously. It just got me thinking, yeah?

What would Voldemort – a pretty 2D evil villain – have to do to be forgivable? Probably impossible, he sought genocide and tortured peeps for fun. If you watch the trailer again, those clips of Voldemort actually showed expressions of vulnerability. It made me think more about how some romance stories look at forgiving someone for terrible sins and helping them to be better.

So if Voldemort stopped killing people and learned the error of his ways, what would you say he’d have to do/change before you’d fall in love with him, despite his track record for murder and torture? Is it even possible for you? It must have happened somewhere in history…

What characters have you forgiven for heinous crimes? At what point could you never forgive a character, despite their depth?

One example from me: I could never forgive Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones, who deserves whole posts to talk about why. Short version: even if Cersei suddenly felt truly remorseful for all the people she has murdered and betrayed – or for those her son Jeoffrey tortured and murdered and she pretended not to notice – her cruelty has ruined and obliterated the lives of literally hundreds of people. I feel sick whenever she’s on screen because she enjoys the suffering she’s caused.

She manipulates and abuses those around her, including her own children, her lover/brother, and family. Any flicker of remorse she seems to feel is only when she gets caught. Despite her fantastic depth of motivation and feeling, I don’t think I could forgive her. It would take an intense character shift and a lot of genuine acts of kindness and generosity for me to perhaps forgive Cersei Lannister.

On the flip side, I forgave Regina Mills from Once Upon A Time. Again, a cold, selfish, murderous, and extremely manipulative woman who I loved to despise. But eventually, she embarked on a difficult journey to reform her core self. She remains sarcastic, quick-to-judge, and wildly controlled by her emotions, but as a person, she grew capable of deep internal reflection and struggled hard to be better.

Both of these women share the same motivator: to love, protect, and keep hold of their children. Both are great characters, but one of them I really want dead.

Getting Published: part four

Last time I updated, I was scraping the barrel of misery in search of a writing epiphany, and I hadn’t met my deadline. The good news: I managed to finish my edits and hand in the new draft of my novel just before Christmas Eve. The bad news: silence.

My novel feels amazing. I feel like I’ve polished up a rusty sports car (no doubt I forgot to replace the bumper or something, but STILL). The villains are uncomfortable and crescendo nicely, the puzzle pieces of the plot click together, the final sentence feels right.

As soon as I sent it off, my prospective agent replied positively, saying he would probably get around to reading it in the first week of January. Whatever the case, he’d let me know when he started reading it. Finally, I could relax for a couple of weeks.

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Except, the first week of January rolled around…and I heard nothing. The second week came and went. Hesitantly, I sent an email asking when he’d assigned my novel to his reading schedule. He replied saying he’d not long returned from holiday, but he’d update me within the week to let me know.

He did not.

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Magical Girls: Internalised Misogyny and Genre Rebirth

Let’s be honest. The ‘magical girl’ trope used to suck when I was a kid, especially when girls are taught to hate themselves because ‘femininity = weakness,’ and gosh are magical-girl-shows ALL ABOUT showy associations of girliness. As such, the magical girl trope only pleased young girls who hadn’t yet learnt to think ‘girliness is a flaw.’ The older a girl got, the more she saw that many magical girls were shaped as vapid creatures obsessed with getting boyfriends or hiding their other life as a pop star, downplaying the fighting and dealing with schoolyard problems. Basically: sitcoms. So it’s no wonder women distanced themselves from ‘magical girls’ to try and preserve their sense of respectability. Until BOOM: Sailor Moon. But let’s build up to that.

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What the heck am I talking about when I link magical girls to internalised misogyny? It’s the act of rejecting women, or yourself, for behaving/looking a certain way. The thing is, to quote everydayfeminism, “it’s not always other people or other genders that are responsible for sexism. Sometimes, it’s actually you.” Women oppress themselves and their peers, known as ‘internalised misogyny’—the act of involuntary perpetuating sexist messages within their societies and culture. Enter stage: the magical girl.

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Getting published: part three

I’m procrastinating by writing this post, let me just put that out there. Click here to read part one and part two.

I didn’t make the November 1st deadline. Once I figured out how to fix the big problems of my story, I worked day and night, every day, to meet the target. But hey, I do also have a life. For some reason I’d agreed to host a food party on October 31st. November 1st was also my cousin’s hen party (for whom I was maid of honour). A day later was the wedding. I also had to write a poem to perform during the service of said wedding. A day after that I was going to Norway. EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

I burnt out. I hadn’t had a chance to stop and reread any of my novel, aside from a fresh scene before moving onto the next. Consequently, I felt like I no longer even knew my novel anymore.

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Getting Published: part two

Belatedly following on from my last publishing post, about how I met an agent willing to give me and my novel a chance, it’s time I updated on what happened next.

So, after our feedback meeting, Suresh gave me a couple of big plot points and changes to think about:

  • Maybe cut a character (I’m thinking: I already cut one, aaah!)
  • Act One could be shorter
  • Your antagonists are blatantly villains, develop their motives
  • The world state of affairs is interesting: give us more

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Epic Cheap: 50% Off Editing Special

For the first time in three years, my schedule is completely blank until mid September. I’m actively looking for new manuscripts to edit, and I’d like to aggressively slash my prices. My rates are never this cheap, so I strongly encourage you to act fast because my inbox gets flooded every time I do this. […]

via Epic Cheap 50% Off Editing Special — Storymedic

Getting Published: Part One

FIRST DATE WITH AN AGENT

I’ve done it. I’ve started the journey to publishing my novel, or at least come closer to the dream than ever before. I’ve studied publishing as an industry, I’ve been an editor for four years for a digital publisher, but I’ve not managed to publish my own work—yet.

So, I figure we can experience the journey together, because despite the publishing experience that I have, this is all new territory for me.

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1. How I triumphed the Hunger Games and won the agent 

Okay, so I wasn’t bulldozing through a queue of clients to get to my agent, but the process of getting your foot through any door of traditional publishing can feel like a battle. Just notice me! Give me a chance!

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Weather Report: The Basilisk in Your Pasta

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The South West of England will continue to see frequent and unpredictable bursts of heavy showers and crisp sunshine every day of this week, so don’t forget your rain repellent umbrellas no matter how deceivingly warm it seems.

Those in North London should be wary of lightning strikes today, since thirteen year old Annabella Hackhop reacted badly to getting drenched in water by a speeding muggle car. The young witch is not being charged for casting the spell, as she claims it was an instinctive magical reaction that she had not intended to happen, and the Ministry’s Accidental Magic Reversal Squad should have the lightning cleared away by this afternoon.

Due to an awful incident involving an elderly wizard and his experimentation in homemade dungbombs, the glorious sunshine in East Riding might not be so welcome after all. The stink is potent for miles and truly foul, not helped by the beautiful weather Yorkshire is due all week. Ahmer Laham is being treated for magical burns after his fifth batch of dungbombs exploded in his garden brazier. The Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee are telling local muggles that a gas line combusted and hit a sewer system.

If you’ve been brewing any lunar dependant potions this month, don’t forget that tonight is the first day of the full moon.

And a quick traffic notification: no one else is permitted to apparate into Diagon Alley today due to a pile up of witches and wizards arriving at the same time for the touring performance of the French rock band ‘The Basilisk in Your Pasta’. The crush of folk is heavy and too many of the travellers were uncomfortable with apparition, resulting in a lot of vomit.

[A/N: Literally, honestly, tonight is a full moon in the UK.]

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

I applied to be a writer for Hogwarts is Here a couple of years ago, and my application was successful! But sadly, the acceptance email went to my junk folder, and I discovered it two weeks after they’d sent it, which was apparently deplorable. I never even got a ‘sorry, you replied too slow’. I liked the content I wrote for them, however, so my Quibbler articles shall have a home on my blog. Hello, 2016.

Meddling in Muggle Theatre

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Wizarding theatre has been in decline, according to directors such as Plepbin Eggum, famous for his adaptation of Three Wizards and the Rolling Trolls, for the past fifty years. He stated that the same dusty fables had graced our stages for so long that even fairies would be tired of sweeping up the moral residue for their spells. Whatever that means. He went on about fairy dust for quite some time.

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10 Uses for the Author Business Card

The Sarcastic Muse

10 Uses for Author Business Cards

Do you have a business card as a writer or author? Have you thought about it? Business cards are a good idea with lots of uses.

Just a quick tip: First, make sure your card stands out. A signature color, logo, or something that draws attention is good. Also make sure that you use a legible font and include only details you want widely public (for example, I omitted my address and phone number).

Here are ten ways you might not have thought of to use your business cards:

  1. One clever idea, which I will implement when the third Family Secrets novel comes out, is to use the space on one side of the card for thumbnails of three books. It’s almost a perfect fit. Then put your info on the back along with a link to where you prefer people to buy them. It’s an immediate sales tool in…

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What is Narrative Style? The Condensed Answer

kitty reading bookThis is something budding writers often ask me. “But what is narrative style? Why is it something to be aware of?”

Narrative style is tricky to pin down. Style is tone. Don’t forget that the narrative is essentially someone’s voice. The narrator is a character, not simply words dictating what happens in the story. Even if narration has an archaic, formal tone (such as often seen in classic literature or high fantasy), that is still the voice of a character, the one telling you a story of events as they perceived them to happen – even if omnipresent.

Style is how you structure sentences, how you use or abuse punctuation, how you describe scenery and character-thought-progression. It’s a combination of many writing techniques that you pick and perfect to work for not only your story, but for you as a writer.

I suppose one way to think of it is like poetry (we’re getting a bit hon hon darling now, but bear with me, it’s a metaphor). When you read a poem, you generally expect that poem to have rhythm – to have a way of twisting the structure of words on the page to either be staccato, flowing, or broken. You would expect a poem to scratch the surface of its real meaning – leaving you to infur the rest – or to expose the “character’s” emotional depth. The poem will paint every scene in vibrant colours, or it will be minimalistic and clean.

Writing a story is very much the same. Narrative style is one part you relating events as feels natural, two parts your character shouting into a microphone. Or whispering. I mean. It’s your style. Whatever.