Pieces of Eight

Not about Spanish currency of antiquity. 


The second book in the Frey Saga is an entertaining quest to restore an elf maiden’s fractured identity. 

There is less action in this book than the first. It is, however, an intriguing jaunt through another world. 

I enjoyed it very much.  It also had the challenge of the first book of hypersexualized male characters. I have to say I enjoy Steed’s flirtations with her more in this book. Chevelle, the male lead, is underdeveloped. He is dark and brooding but otherwise almost flawless (he does have a jealous streak when it comes to Steed). 
Being that it was written by a woman I took it for granted in the first book that it passes the Bechdel Test. This book also passes the test and Ruby remains one of my favorite characters. The current book I’m reading does not so far and it was also written by a woman. 

I enjoy being in Frey’s head, though she is very different than me. 

One criticism I read in another review of this book is that Frey is frequently sleeping. This is true , but I didn’t find it boring and it served the plot. She evolves through the book. 

One quote I particularly enjoyed:

Somewhere, in the mess of my mind, I’d understood that acquiring the magic and memories would not release me from the difficulties of my life. 

Pieces of Eight was a diverting, easy read.  I highly recommend it. 

Frey

Frey felt life was unfair as an elf who has no magic until one day she finds herself accidentally practicing dark magic. Things get worse from there. A dark and handsome stranger appears and her world is soon thrown off kilter. Will her mother’s diary hold the answer to her fractured memories? Will she find any magic that is not dark? 


This story was appealing because it focuses on a strong female lead who fights against the odds. We can probably all identify with feeling out of place from time to time.  

In this world the genders feel pretty equal, though two of the male characters are hypersexualised. Although one of the elves, Steed, is quite comical with his forwardness. His personality reminds me of a married man that used to hit on me. I didn’t think it was so funny at the time. 

The story seems to follow more of a Freytag model than a traditional three act structure.  That’s okay; my book, Threads of Fate, follows this model and is based off Blake Snyder’s beat sheet.  

Ruby was one of my favorite characters. She is strong and mischievous, so a little unpredictable. She definitely has agency. This book passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors. 

There were a few moments that felt unrealistic. Chevelle is particularly brooding and in one spot does not speak to Frey for an entire day. I can’t imagine traveling with someone for a full 24 hours and not breaking the silence. 

I wish there was a little more description about things like the colors of the horses. I can’t recall what color her horse was and those kinds of details draw me in being a visual person. 

The book was an easy read and I’ve already read the next one, Pieces of Eight

#TuesdayMotivation Set Yourself Free

One of my dear friends told me that the theme for her in 2017 is forgiveness. This quote has inspired me in writing Syzygy. I challenge you to not only forgive others but to also forgive yourself. 

Self Compassion. I’ve not had a problem forgiving other people. My worst enemy is often no further than the closest mirror. Forgiving myself is difficult. 

The way I talk to myself and the harsh way I deal with myself is not how I would treat others. I’ve admitted this before

If you’re like me it’s easier to let go of what other people did than to give yourself compassion. Compassion is vital and it needs to start internally. For us to be healthy, functional people we have to own our flaws and move beyond them: we have to forgive ourselves. 


Let It Go. If you’re holding on to bitter thoughts about someone, I challenge you to let them go. Madeline L’Engle said, “Hate hurts the hater more than the hated”. While you may not actually loathe the person who has wronged you, holding onto negativity just bogs you down like a ball and chain. 


Take a moment and think about the negativity holding you back. Decide to forgive and feel the ball and chain disintegrate. 

#amreading: the best of this week

1.  #AUTHORS: GET REAL ON #SOCIALMEDIA AND READERS WILL RESPOND #ASMSG #IARTG

My takeaway:

Use this formula when posting on social media – 20% book marketing, 10% small talk (weather, exercising, cooking, etc.), 30% retweets, 20% personal (I use this to post baking/cooking pics), 20% other interests (sports, hobbies, news, politics, etc.)


I know I have not been following that formula.  I post mainly with word games and retweets. To remedy this I’m going to start posting more small talk and interests.

2. How to Add to Your Plot After You’ve Finished the First Draft

My takeaway:

Next I examine the other characters in my cast. Who could use more fleshing out? Or who has a rich backstory that I’m not utilizing as much as I could? I give myself time to brainstorm ways I could enhance my cast as well.

Rereading Dark Fate there are places I can expound. I want to add content of substance and improve the story.  I know the scenes with the villain felt short and plan on revising them. 

3. Refilling the Well 

My takeaway:

Often a hobby or interest can yield unexpected benefits to our writing.


Sometimes my well runs dry and I have to find a way to refill it. My critique partner, Eric Peterson, has given me good advice to keep my creative mind happy.  Ballet and reading invigorate me.  What makes your creative mind happy?

4. Today’s quick writing reminder: Power of Endurance. #quote

My takeaway:

Not everything in life happens over night, which is most likely one of the biggest blessings that we as humans have been given. We are allowed to grow, and improve. We are blessed with time to shape and mold ourselves into what we are meant to achieve AS WE ARE READY FOR IT.


This article was about going the distance as a writer. Small pieces of progress add up. Being a writer means that one has to actively write. Bestseller Dean Wesley Smith said in Heinlein’s Rules, “My definition of an author is a person who has written.” I don’t want to be someone who has written. I want to be a writer. 

5. How to Question Your Story’s Logic

My takeaway: 

The best way to make sure your story’s logic makes sense is to spend time learning how people work.


I’ve mentioned previously the enneagram article Yep, You’re Talking to Yourself Again but there are other resources as well. Learning about Myers-Briggs or even zodiac signs can help as well. I don’t personally believe in horoscopes but the personality classifications based off astrology are intriguing. I’m definitely an Aries. I’m also working on a book called Syzygy right now that revolves around astrology. I start each chapter with a horoscope so that has been an interesting challenge requiring research and it has broadened my horizons. 

#TuesdayMotivation Positive Self Talk

When you look in the mirror do you like what you see? Do you compliment yourself or are you harsh with yourself?


To be honest I am harsh with myself and I know that’s an area I need to work on.  One of my commitments this week has been to read inspirational material for several minutes each day and today’s inspiration included information on transforming positive self talk as a New Year’s resolution.  They pose this simply as a habit that needs to be changed.  


We often hear statistics about making or breaking new habits.  It turns out that for a new habit to become automatic takes on average 66 days, so I’ll bear this in mind if you will.  

One of my favorite writing resources also happens to be a psychology paper titled, “Yep, You’re Talking to Yourself Again“.  Reading this paper is a wonderful resource for understanding the basic personalities.  We each have tapes for good or ill that we play over and over in our little brains based off our personalities.  They can be hard truths to bear and hear but you know what they say about the truth. 


Sometimes voices linger in our heads from the past of parents who were judgemental, of bullies in high school, or of spouses or lovers who were unloving. Those voices need to be purged.  Those tapes need to be ejected.  Once we realize what our hard truths about our core personalities are it’s easier ro reject those lingering messages that were hurtful but are no loner relevant to our core identities. They are like so much chaff ready to dissolve and fade away.  

#TuesdayMotivation Infectious Inspiration 

A dear friend let me know that she is writing and that I had encouraged her. What she didn’t know is that she’d inspired me as well.  

When we share our stories we become vulnerable. We open ourselves to rejection in that moment.

At the same time those authentic moments are what inspire others. 

Don't be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others.

We each have a different human experience and story to tell. Your own struggles can help another person have courage or find a new way of looking at things. Inspiration can be infectious. Touching the life of a single person can in turn trickle down to others. 

This brings me back to writing about what hurts: when you write about your own pain you can touch those around you in a powerful way. 

The ultimate goal of writing is empathy: we want to evoke something in the reader. We want to make a mark on another’s soul. 

Who or what inspires you? Does this person know how you have been touched by them? I challenge you to let them know. 

#amreading: the best articles of the week 

As I try to improve my craft as a writer, I read articles about writing. 

Here are the 5 best that I’ve read this week: 

1. Novel writing basics: 10 steps to an unputdownable book

This article broke down ideas on ways to tantalize readers. My favorite takeaway was:

 If the reader doesn’t have a clear sense of where your characters are, they can come across as talking heads floating in hazy darkness. 


Since I have written mostly screenplays, I struggle with too much dialogue at times.  I attribute it to screenplays because sometimes my scenes look like a screenplay: description up front and then dialogue action dialogue. I know I need to work on including more dialogue attributions and interspersing more descriptions. 

2. 3 Must-Have Scenes That Reveal Character

This article discusses three scenes that are “must-haves” for your MCs. 

My takeaway:

As a writer, ask: How will the readers find themselves in this character? How will they connect with this character and start to believe this character is real? It doesn’t matter if your character is a superhero or a soccer mom – we need that connection.

 

Flaws make a character more real.  In Threads of Fate both of my MCs struggle with their self-esteem in different ways. Petra doesn’t feel confident and when she lacks confidence her enchanted grimoire has blank pages. Angsmar has let the voices of a few people become an internal tape that he plays where he thinks everyone views him as a monster.  One beta reader commented that he was whiny but another said: sometimes the scariest monster that we will ever face is always as far away as the nearest reflective surface. 

3.  How to write from a Guy’s POV

My takeaway:

And guys are complex–we have feelings, emotions, pasts that we bury and don’t talk about. Try opening a guy up, explore him…. And on a final note–please, please, please write a CHARACTER first. Write a human being with goals, desires, secrets, resentment, and happiness. Write a PERSON that the reader can empathize with. 


Maybe I made Angsmar a little emo. I like to think of it as introspective. Especially since he doesn’t voice his thoughts very often. I think he’s no more emo than Kylo Ren.  I firmly believe that people are people and many of the comments in this article are only valid because of social constructs. In fantasy one has the liberty to do away with or embrace those constructs. 

4.On Newt Scamander, Toxic Masculinity, & The Power Of Hufflepuff Heroes

My takeaway: 

…essential in Fantastic Beasts’s changing this narrative of men being weak for showing their emotions are the reactions of the people around Newt in the film. 


In the Threads of Fate universe it’s not easy to be a woman. It’s a patriarchal society and women have few rights.  The mores surrounding a woman’s chastity are almost Victorian.  At the same time I’ve made an effort to avoid toxic masculinity. 

5. 7 Ways to Add Great Subplots to Your Novel

My takeaway:

In fact, the best way to start brainstorming subplots is to brainstorm characters who could populate and propel your plot. Once you’ve done this, you can simply write out your subplots more or less sequentially. 


With Dark Fate I know that it’s too short and  that it needs to be expounded on.  Part of my revision will be to add more descriptions and make sure each scene is as sensory as possible.  I think I need to add a few scenes for the villain as well. 

Have you read any good articles this week?