Monday, August 5, 2019

Five Golden Braids | Interview with Rapunzel!

And here we are again with another Blog Party, hosted in part by Kendra E. Ardnek of Knitted By God’s Plan (and several other authors)!

Anton Argentos:
Or perhaps we should say, *Hair* we are again? *wink*

(You’re a riot, Anton. <_<)

Actually, that’s not too far off the mark, because this Blog Tour features five different retellings of one of my favorite Faerie-tales: Rapunzel! Specifically, Kendra’s latest Bookania Quest, Hair We Go Again.
Hop on over to Kendra’s blog (and/or the blogs of the other four authors) for more details!

*Confetti floof*

Erm...yes...wouldn’t be a Blog Party without you doing that, would it? *Snerk*

Nope. 😊 <3
(Oooohh! Love my new font-color!)

(You’re welcome. It’s easier to read than yellow text on white background, wot?)

Today, I have the very great honor to do a Character Interview with one of the cast from Hair...but first, a bit about the book, and the Anka* who wrote it (or rather, Arista, as she calls herself in Bookania):

The loverly cover-art!
Book Description:
The Bookania Quests #5
Still reeling from recent trauma, Robin and Eric struggle to find stability in the midst of increasing tension both at home and with others. When friends ask their help to rediscover their castle, lost during their hundred-year sleep, Robin and Eric agree to help. But this castle holds secrets of its own – including what may be the fate of Eric’s long-lost brother – launching them on another quest. Meanwhile, Maryanne's busy on a much more important mission of her own: find a jackalope. Yet no one’s ideas seem to coincide with hers, and family disagreements muddy everything. Can healing ever be found when people refuse to communicate?

Author Bio:
Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: Website|| Blog|| Goodreads|| Facebook|| Twitter|| YouTube || Newsletter || Instagram ||Amazon
* Anka = Originally referring to the (female) keeper of a magical piece of jewelry that brings the imagination to life, coined in Kendra E. Ardnek’s The Ankulen (male form Anku, gender-neutral/collective form Ank’). I have adopted the term when referring to my fellow scribblers (and when my Characters address or refer to me), but give full credit for its creation to Kendra.

And now, on to the Character Interview. (Silence in the Peanut Gallery,† an it like ye—we don’t want to overwhelm our important guest, after all!)
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Elves and Hobbits...please give a warm welcome to...Rapunzel!

Hail and well-met, Maid Rapunzel! (Or is it Princess?) Welcome to The Rambling Rose. Make yourself comfortable, have some refreshments (courtesy of our own Bramblerose Cottonwool), and let’s get started with this interview. (By-the-bye, you’ve always been one of my favorite Faerie-tale heroines. )

Oh, that’s good to know. Thank you.

Youre very welcome.
For starters, tell us a little about yourself.

Um, my name is Rapunzel, I lived most of my life in a tower because I had magic in a time when magic wasn’t accepted, and now I don’t live in a tower because the witch is dead and I married Lukas.

It’s probably safe to say you’re most famous for your long golden hair. I’m curious—how did it grow so long? Is it magical, or do you just have epic hair genes?

It is safe to say, yes. The plant I was named for, which my mother ate so much through her pregnancy, was infused with magic. The speed with which my hair grows is just one of the many side effects.

What is your favorite color?

Would it be cheating to say all of them? If so ... maybe blue - for the sky, and all of its possibilities.

Do you have any pets, hobbies, or other things that interest you?

I spent my whole life in my tower, cut off from human contact. Gothel provided me plenty of things to pass the time - sewing, knitting, weaving, painting, gardening, cooking ... if she could find a way to bring it into the tower, she did.

Tell us about Prince Lukas.

Well, he’s my husband. I think he’s the best man in all of Bookania. He laughs when I tell him this, though, reminding me that he’s the only man I know. Well, not so much anymore, now that I’m out of the tower, but he used to. He’s kind, and generous, and brave, and loyal ... oh, and handsome, of course. I think he’s going to make an amazing king, when the time comes.

Have you any plans or dreams for the future?

What I have now is more than anything I ever dreamed of - but I know that there are things that I do have to plan for. After all, Lukas is Winthrop’s crown prince, and that means that he’s going to be king someday, and that will make me queen. Robin says she’ll help me figure it out, and that Queen Camillia will, too, but I must admit to being quite intimidated at the prospect!

What do you want most out of life?

To live it to the fullest. Now that I’m not contained by walls, there are so many possibilities.

Indeed! I hope you get your wish, and thank you for visiting!

Peanut Gallery = My collective term for the various and sundry Voices In My Head, which I’ve personified as Characters in my numerous WIPs...and who have a habit of interrupting or hyjacking my blog posts at random....

Until next time, Gentle Readers—

Happy Reading and Writing—and creating and making the world beautiful in general!!! <3

Merry Christmas!”
Happy Easter!”
Don’t forget to floss!”
*Impish grin*

*Facepalm* Remind me again why I allow you access to my memory files, Silver One....?
(BTW, virtual cookies to whoever gets the reference! :-P)

Anyhoot, check out the other fascinating twists on the classic tale of the girl with long golden hair, leave comments on the authors’ blogs, and have fun!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Know The Novel | Part Three



Going back through my blog posts, I realized I never filled out Part Three of Christine’s NaNoWriMo series. Oops!
So, even though NaNo is long past, and the link-up is closed, I’m going to do it anyhow, if for no other reason than so my blog archives will be complete, LOL.


1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around? Overall, pretty well. I was able to write a little every day, which was the idea of this contest, and while that was a bit exhausting, it was worth the hard work.

2. Did it turn out like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome? As I said before, the “filler” between main plot-points had a mind of its own, but on the whole, the book was great fun to write.
3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.) The characters, as always. The more I write, the more I realize my greatest strength is character interaction and development, especially via dialogue. The scenes between Liam and Starflower were so sweet, and I loved working with them.
4. How about your least favorite part? Not sure there was a “least favorite” part, exactly—although I do regret not including some of the lore/worldbuilding I intended for Ardonia in general, and the Star Queen in particular. Perhaps I can fit it into the next draft....
The part where the Rat King died was a bit hard to write, I will admit. I do try to keep the violence to a minimum in my writing, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
5. What do you feel like needs the most work? As I said before: The worldbuilding. I want to explain why it is that Humans can learn magic in this world (considering it’s forbidden in some of my other worlds), why the Forest of the Night has such an evil name among the people, and add a bit of lore to the Star Queen’s character. I also want to give Herr Weisskopf (the “Droselmeier” character) a larger role. He kinda got shoved in a corner by all the StarLiam cuteness. :-P
6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? I love them dearly. Not, perhaps, as much as some of the cast from Prince Nácil or the Peanut Gallery, but I enjoyed working with them, and look forward to polishing up their story a bit more in the near future (Lord willing). Who’s your favorite? Liam and Starflower, for sure. These two are just so sweet—but in a “root for them to have their Happily Ever After” kind of way. Starflower has just enough temper to balance out her sweetness—

Anton Argentos:
Which is another way of saying, She’s not another Elsie Dinsmore. XP

(Well, I wasn’t going to
say it....)
—and Liam is...well, he’s the type of Hero I find myself writing a lot: Tender-hearted, sensitive and caring, observant and thoughtful, kind and gentle but also valiant and protective. A gentleman through-and-through.
Least favorite? Don’t think there was a “least favorite” character, per se. Frau Ratzenburger felt a bit two-dimensional...but then, villains are my weak point, especially female villains, for some stupid reason.Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details! It’s been so long since I wrote the book, I don’t remember if anyone in particular surprised me...although the Magic Mirror’s prophecy was totally a spur-of-the-moment thing, but I really like it, and it ended up an important part of the finale.
Actually, on further thought, Kürt Ratzenburger being the jolly joker character, and a musician/actor, was a surprise...but then, I find I always have to have at least one character who tries to lighten the mood with snark and/or wise-cracks. :-P
7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel? My goal is to go back and polish up PS a bit more—move one scene so the plot flows more smoothly, perhaps add a bit more worldbuilding/background, etc. I also want to develop Starflower’s six other cousins (Fritz’s younger brothers) better, as they end up being rather important at the end, and I want the readers to be connected with them by that point. I don’t want to change or expand it too much, as I want to keep it in the children’s/YA category, but I feel there’s more to the story than what I’ve written, so God helping me, I intend to add it in as best I can.
8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be? Isn’t the greatest dream of any author to have one’s work published? That’s my goal (Lord willing), anyhow. I would love for my little “expanded Faerie-tale”/mashup to be read and enjoyed, and for it to be a blessing to those who read it...and perhaps have it inspire other writers to try combining stories they previously thought too dissimilar.
9. Share a snippet of one of your most favorite scenes! I feel like I’ve already shared my top faves already (one or two of them twice, oops), but I’m rather fond of this bit, too:

Thoughts came into the Nutcracker’s head—knowledge of how to save Starflower and the Dwarves. His heart constricted, for with that knowledge came the realization that the old witch was right; this quest might just cost him his life. But if I can bring back Starflower and the Dwarves to the Land of the Living, he thought, then...then I shall die happy, knowing they’re safe.
He rose to his feet, squaring his wooden shoulders. “I must also touch the Crown,” he explained, “and enter the Dream World, and bring her and the Dwarves back by sunset.”
The Star Queen laid a dainty hand on his shoulder. “God protect you, dear Liam, and grant you success.”
“I have much more I would say to you, young man,” the Moon King stated, “but it shall keep until you return.” He shook the Nutcracker’s hand and clapped him on the shoulder. “Godspeed, my son!” Then he and the Star Queen took a step back, holding hands and looking at him expectantly.
The Nutcracker took a deep breath to steady himself, bowed to them, and faced the sleeping Starflower. He patted her hand gently and whispered, “Hold on, Princess; I’m coming.”
Then he reached out and touched the Poison Crown.

10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel? Not particularly, but it was good for me to have that deadline and motivation to write a little every day. However, I don’t think I could keep up that pace on a regular basis—I’d probably burn out after a while....
But I did have fun, and it still kind of amazes me that I finished an entire book in three weeks.
Sole Deo Gloria!

Based on advice from both my mother (who might be a wee bit biased, LOL), and Kendra (who is an actual Published Author and therefore ought to know), I’m thinking of publishing Princess Starflower and possibly one other “expanded Faerie-tale” before launching the Ýdära Multiverse...Lord willing I can figure out the mess that is getting published these days...but that’s another kettle o’ fish entirely....
...the rationale being that PS and the other story*, being on the shorter side, will give people a sample of my writing without overwhelming them right at first. Plus it’ll (theoretically) give me a bit more time to get Prince Nácil and its sequels ready for publication (Lord willing...).

* Tentatively entitled The Woodcutters Children at present, although I’ve also considered The Dragon’s Candlestick or The Magic [or Enchanted] Candlestick. Any suggestions are most welcome!

Please pray for me as I slog through this new endeavor—that God will show me what route to take in publishing the stories He’s put in my head, and all that entails.
Please pray for Inspiration as I work on the sequels, and the other series I have planned—my timelines are a bit of a mess, and I’m still figuring out certain plot points and other elements in this series (Children of Light/House of Othniel) that set things in motion for the other series (especially the Heirs of Dunsmüir Saga).

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless, and take care of yourselves!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas at the Town House

This will be our first Christmas in our new home, and overall, the Christmas Season has been good this year. There have been some hard times, feelings of “bah humbug” and “all the magic of Christmas is gone!” but there have been some blessings tucked here and there.
[And I was going to post a pic of the new house with its new paint-job here, but apparently I haven't uploaded it from Mr. Phonie yet....]

We hosted a dinner party in the middle of the month with our Monday night Bible study group and had a blast. Everyone brought something to share, and everything was delicious!

The Bells of Grants Pass performed three times this month, the last “gig” earning us a new member—a young fellow who played handbells in college and learned some advanced techniques. Hallelujah!

It’s become a tradition in our family to see the live annual performance of the Nutcracker Ballet, and this year was no exception. They mayn’t have the best technique or choreography, but it’s still a good show, and it’s always fun to see what new things they add each year.
Speaking of which, our Nutcracker collection has mushroomed in the last few months. This has seriously been the Year of the Nutcracker for us, LOL. I’ve actually toyed (oops, my Cat Noir is showing 😊) with doing a Nutcracker Advent blog series like Kendra did a few years back....

This year, we joined up with a fellow member of the Bells of Grants Pass and her friend to form a recorder quintet. Despite some setbacks and scheduling what-nots, we were able to play some Christmas carols for a open house at one of the historic houses in town.
Clockwise from left: Sylvia & yours truly on Soprano,
Mom on Bass, Peter on Tenor, Ellen on Alto

I must say, I didn’t realize how much I missed playing my recorder until we started this group. Hopefully we can keep it up and do some of the Baroque and Renaissance music we looked at intitally. ’Cos that’s my music Happy Place. 😊

Anyroad, here’s wishing all my Gentle Readers—and anyone who happens to stumble onto my wee corner of the Blogosphere—a very Merry Christmas, a Blessed New Year, and much, much Joy!

God bless,

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Know the Novel | Part Two

And here’s Part Two of Christine’s fun writing tag, Know The Novel. The tag originates on Christine’s blog, Musings of an Elf. Check out her post for more details.

So this time, I get to yak about how the actual writing is going, gush about my Characters, and sundry what-nots like that.

Characters who, oddly enough, haven’t made it to Peanut Gallery* status.

Perhaps because I didn’t intend to get as emotionally involved with them as with you lot? :-P This *was* going to be a “nice little bit of fluff to play with while I take a break from Prince Nácil,” after all. *Eyeroll*

OK, enough rambling. On to the Tag!

* Peanut Gallery = The various and sundry Voices in My Head/facets of my complicated psyche, whom I’ve personified as several Characters from my many WIPs.

1. How’s the writing going? FINISHED!!! I got to the end of the book on November 23rd with an official wordcount of 32,231 words (62 pages in Open Office). It was kinda weird, finishing an entire book in a little over three weeks. It’s also a little sad that I didn’t make it to the 50,000 words goal...but I’ve told all of the story I wanted to tell (that would have fit without feeling dragged-out or shoehorned in), so continuing to write woud just be so much excess fluff at this point. I think my brother said it best: “It’s just not a 50,000-word story.” Besides, my main reason for doing NaNo this year was to get into the habit of writing each day, which I’ve done, so that’s a win, aye?
As far as the actual process went, it felt like it took me f o r e v e r to progress the plot (especially the Party Scene, ’ikes!), yet writing basically all day, every day got me to the end of the book before the month was out. Crazy! But cool, too.
2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far? Combining two very dissimilar “fairytales” into one story, and weaving in dances from the Ballet, plus bits of live performances I’ve seen over the years.
3. Has your novel surprised you in any way? Mainly in the area of organic development. Despite writing out a list of main/important plot-points I wanted to include in the book, detailing how those events unfolded within the story just...had a mind of its own still. :-P
On a pleasanter note, the Magic Mirror spouted a pretty cool Prophecy out of the Blue (see snippets below), which I think gave the story a bit more depth.
4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about? ’On the whole, I like them. They’re basically how I envisioned them. Princess Starflower is sweet and encouraging, with just enough initial bashfulness around Liam to be believable. Liam, what a sweetheart. <3 Herr Weisskopf ended up with a smaller role than I intended, but perhaps I can fix that in the next draft. Fritz is the perfect fop that you love to hate, and the Queen of the Night turned out deliciously crafty and...well, evil.
5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have? I’d totally be Princess Starflower. When I myself was twelve years old, I still enjoyed games of Let’s Pretend...and was horribly shy of boys! (Still am, actually, although it’s gotten a bit better in recent years.) Don’t think I’d do anything different than Starflower does in the story—nothing positive, anyhow. I’d probably sulk the rest of the evening after Fritz broke the nutcracker, and my twelve-year-old self for sure wouldn’t get over being afraid of Liam that quickly! >_<
6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!
First sentence: The Kingdom of Ardonia had enjoyed many years of peace and prosperity, ruled by the wise and fair Moon King and his beloved Star Queen.
~Favorite snippets~
The Queen jumped and threw a saucy grin at her husband. “Ah! My lord, I did not hear you approach. Fie, for shame, to startle a woman with child.”
I’m certain you shall come to forgive me in time.” He kissed her tenderly. “As for our Small One yonder”—patting the Queen’s belly—“I would be very much surprised if it looked aught but how you’ve described, considering our own complexions.” He gave her dark locks a playful tug and pinched her rosy cheek as he spoke. “The real question will be whether God shall bless us with a fair daughter to inherit your soft curls and dark eyes, or a strapping son blessed with my manly physique.” He struck a heroic pose, meriting a laugh from the Queen.
[Author Intrusion: In which the Moon King suddenly channeled Anton Argentos. XD]

Fritz looked a bit foolish, turning the lever over in his hands. Then he gave a nervous laugh and shrugged his shoulders. “What a lot of fuss over a silly toy.” He dropped the lever and began to walk towards Starflower. “Come, now, Cousin Starflower; let’s finish the dance.”
Starflower glared up at him. “I don’t want to dance with you, you great bully.” A tear slid down her cheek, and she hugged the nutcracker to her heart.
Fritz began to reply, extending his hand to her in a way that made her anxious.
Liam stepped protectively in front of her. “The Princess says she doesn’t want to dance with you,” he growled.
Fritz stopped short, eyes wide in astonished outrage.
Liam gulped, but stood firm.
Hold your tongue, little man,” Fritz sneered. “You forget yourself. Or do you not realize whom you are addressing?” He looked down his nose at Liam, head held high, his whole being radiating hauteur.
Liam lifted his chin. “I may not be of noble birth, mein herr,” he retorted, “but I’m more of a gentleman than you are.”

Magic Mirror,” she intoned, “tell me if there is any danger to this plan of action, and how I may prevent it.”
Again the Mirror growled and turned black, answering in the same low tones:

True Love’s Sword shall be thy bane,
True Love’s Call shall wake the slain,
True Love’s Kiss shall win the fight,
And Love United sets it right.”

The Mirror showed an image of a young couple in splendid clothes, with crowns on their heads, facing each other with clasped hands. A bright light shone behind them, and a kind of fog shrouded the image, so Frau Ratzenburger couldn’t make out their exact features or any other details that might point to their identities. She asked the Mirror to tell her more about them, but it only repeated its previous answer. To Frau Ratzenburger, it sounded like a prophecy of doom....

7. Have you come across any problem areas? Mainly figuring out how to incorporate the dances from the Ballet and make them interesting. Too little detail, and it’s like, “What does this even accomplish?” Too much detail, and my readers might as well just go see the Ballet, LOL. I also had a spot of bother fitting in the Magic Mirror...until I realized Frau Ratzenburger/the Queen of the Night’s reason for hating Starflower wasn’t jealousy of her looks....
8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point? Besides finishing a whole book in three weeks? ;-P Probably the fact that the two stories really did mesh pretty well.
9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet? Anyone who’s read Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and at least seen the Nutcracker Ballet knows there’s at least one death involved. Anyone who’s actually read E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker and Mouse King knows there are at least two (we won’t count Snow White and the Nutcracker because they either weren’t really dead or came back to life).
I did kill off one other character besides the villains...but...ehehe, spoilers, sweetie.
10. Take us on a tour of a what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all! A typical day of writing for R.R. Goodwill generally began around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m., after I’d done the usual morning things and what-not...and OK, yeah, gotten distracted by YouTube videos, e-mail checking, Pinterest rabbit-holes, and/or jewelry projects that suddenly decided to inspire me. :-P I have my laptop (affectionately christened “Batman” due to its black and silver exterior) set up in my room, where I can shut myself away from the rest of the house for a while.
No coffee for this little monkey (can’t handle the Caffeine Buzzzzzz), nor tea (too expensive to drink casually), nor cocoa (don’t have mix, and I hate making it from scratch because it turns out bitter)...however, I did nosh on at least a roll a day of Smarties (leftover Trick-or-Treat fodder) while writing this book. Oddly appropriate, actually....
And while I generally don’t listen to music while writing, I found it helpful to play parts of the Nutcracker Suite and Waltz of the Snowflakes, to help get a feel for the mood of the scene I wanted to write.

I don’t tag anyone, because the only two people left on the Blogosphere that I actually know have already done it. :-P Eagerly awaiting Part Three!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Know the Novel | Princess Starflower

Taking a break from NaNoWriMo to participate in this fun little tag, which my friend and fellow “scribbler”/NaNoite,* Melody Muffin, featured on her blog recently. The tag originates on Christine’s blog, Musings of an Elf. Check out her post for more details.
Sadly, the link-up for this part of the tag is now closed, but Christine says she’ll post Part Two this month.

* NaNoite = Participant in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo/NaNo)

Below, I’ll share tidbits about my current NaNo WIP, Princess Starflower. I had already started jotting down some notes and a couple snippets (which I will be re-writing word-for-word to keep my project “legal,” LOL) a year ago, but not much. I chose it as my NaNo projects because it seemed like something I could write a bit less intensely than Prince Nácil or any of my other Ýdära books.

Shout-out to Shawn P., a long-time friend who suggested (last Summer, but hey, better late than never, wot?) that I participate in NaNo . It was kinda cool he even remembered I write books, we are. 😊

OK, enough rambling. On to the Tag!

~All photos via Pinterest~

1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
A dream I had in November 2017, which was a mashup of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but also featured a live Nutcracker. It seemed like a cool basis for a novel, so I started jotting down ideas and snippets. I know its kind of a strange mix, but it totally works!
2. Share a blurb! *Suddenly realizes she stinks at thinking up blurbs* Um...y’all can read the one I wrote for my NaNo page....
3. Where does the story take place? In the fictional Kingdom of Ardonia, ruled by the Moon King and Star Queen.
What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting? *Sheepish* I...actually haven’t given much thought to the setting, apart from the fact that Our Heroine and her family live in a Castle, and there’s a creepy wood at the border of the kingdom called the Forest of the Night. As usual, I’m focusing more on the characters and the interactions more than the world they live in. *So lame*
Princess Starflower4. Tell us about your protagonist. Princess Starflower, AKA the “Snow White”/“Clara”-character of this story. Our Heroine is a bit shy and prefers quiet activities like reading, embroidery, and playing Let’s Pretend with her toys, but she can be friendly and outgoing with people she knows.

“But she’s so pretty, Uncle,” Liam protested. “... She’d never even look at a plain fellow like me.”
Oddly enough, the male lead in this story—Liam, the character inspired by Drosselmeir’s apprentice—gets quite a bit of POV, too, so I guess he’s the secondary protagonist. I hadn’t intended it, but...well, it just felt right. ;-P Liam is quiet and thoughtful, a bit shy, but kind and empathic. He has a highly-developed power of observation and justice. (Really, so many of my “boys” are such sweethearts!)
Queen of the Night and the Magic Mirror (The Snow Queen by P.J.Lynch)
(LOL, this reminds me of Diana Rigg's
portrayal in the Cannon MovieTale film!)

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist? Starflower’s aunt, Frau Ratzenburger, a bitter, scheming woman with ambitions for setting up her eldest son, Fritz, as Moon matter what it takes.
6. What excites you the most about this novel? Finally making a literal dream into a reality!
7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else? Standalone.
8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting? Totally Plansting. I wrote out a basic outline/list of plot-points I wanted for the story, but actually writing the actual story between the plot-points has proved...*interesting.* “Filler” always seems to have a mind of its own....
9. Name a few things that makes this story unique. Probably the fact that it’s a mash-up of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Nutcracker Ballet, with nods to E.T.A Hoffmann’s original story. I’m weaving in bits from the live performances of the Ballet my family have seen, and scenes inspired by them (the interaction between Our Heroine and the Nephew/Apprentice in particular). Also, the Evil Queen in this retelling is the protagonist's aunt, not her step-mother, and the Fritz-character is her eldest cousin, not her brother. (Fun fact: In my dream, the Evil Queen/Queen of the Night actually was Starflower’s stepmother—she tricked the King into thinking the real Queen was dead so he’d marry her—but I decided that might be a bit...awkward...for a children’s story. And I just realized I gave y’all a spoiler. Aw well. ;-))
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!). My Pinterest board for this book: ~Click Me!~
The Nutcracker Suite.* I listened to this several times while writing the Royal Christmas Party scene. I usually don’t listen to music while writing—the images conjured up move more quickly than my fingers can type!—but it was necessary to get the “feel” of the dances, and their basic chronology.
* We actually have this on CD, but I didn’t want to lug the player u pto my room. Plus my headphones have better sound, LOL. My only beef with this version is that it omits several of the Party Dances and the Waltz of the Snowflakes.
Enjoy some of my favorite snippets so far:

The Queen jumped and threw a saucy grin at her husband. “Ah! My lord, I did not hear you approach. Fie, for shame, to startle a woman with child.”
I’m certain you shall come to forgive me in time.” He kissed her tenderly. “As for our Small One yonder”—patting the Queen’s belly—“I would be very much surprised if it looked aught but how you’ve described, considering our own complexions.” He gave her dark locks a playful tug and pinched her rosy cheek as he spoke. “The real question will be whether God shall bless us with a fair daughter to inherit your soft curls and dark eyes, or a strapping son blessed with my manly physique.” He struck a heroic pose, meriting a laugh from the Queen.

But she’s so pretty, Uncle,” Liam protested. “That is—well, they do say she’s the fairest maiden in the kingdom. She’d never even look at a plain fellow like me.”
Pish-posh!” Herr Weisskopf chuckled. “You’re not so plain as you style yourself, my boy, and in any case, you’ve not done growing yet. Remember; every majestic oak-tree was once a spindly little sapling. Like them, you’ll soon grow out of your awkward stage and rise to become something better. Just keep telling yourself, ‘I am an oak-tree.’”

Starflower glared up at him. “I don’t want to dance with you, you great bully.” A tear slid down her cheek, and she hugged the nutcracker to her heart.
Fritz began to reply, extending his hand to her in a way that made her anxious.
Liam stepped protectively in front of her. “The Princess says she doesn’t want to dance with you,” he growled.
Fritz stopped short, eyes wide in astonished outrage.
Liam gulped, but stood firm.
Hold your tongue, little man,” Fritz sneered. “You forget yourself. Or do you not realize whom you are addressing?” He looked down his nose at Liam, head held high, his whole being radiating hauteur.
Liam lifted his chin. “I may not be of noble birth, mein herr,” he retorted, “but I’m more of a gentleman than you are.”

The air around her and Liam seemed to sparkle, and a blueish light shone about them. Liam suddenly jumped up and extended his hand, and to Staflower’s astonishment, she found herself taking it. She and Liam skipped and spun across the dance floor, waltzing in unison as though they’d been taking lessons together all their lives.
Princess!” Frau Ratzenburger’s sharp voice scolded.
The blue light disappeared. The sparkles vanished. Liam and Starflower halted in mid-step and stood looking at each other in confusion.

I don’t tag anyone, because the only two people left on the Blogosphere that I actually know have already done it. :-P Eagerly awaiting Parts Two and Three!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

Friday, July 20, 2018

Treat or Tripe? | Miraculous

All pix via Pinterest

Now that we live in town and are out from under that crazy bandwidth cap, I’ve finally been able to check out a show I’ve been curious about for quite a while now (hurrah for YouTube). I started seeing pictures and fan-art for the French-Korean TV show Miraculous (also called Miraculous Ladybug) on Kendra’s Pinterest feed and quickly fell down the rabbit-hole of the Ladybug fandom. And now I finally know what all the hype is about (well, mostly...).

This is different than my previous “Treat or Tripe?” posts, as it deals with a series as a whole, not just one movie. And since it would be too tedious for words to analyze every episode separately, I’m just going to give my general impressions of the show. I’m assuming anyone reading this has already seen it, but in case you haven’t, be aware that beyond here be spoilers.

Overall, I like it. While it’s not as “deep” as Pixar or even some of Disney’s latest flicks, Miraculous does have some positive messages, and even a bit of food for thought if you scratch under the surface fluff (especially in Season One). Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about it, due to some rumors about some of the secondary characters...but having watched the show, it seems like you’d have to read A LOT into things to see it, and I doubt the target audience (7-12-year-olds, I believe) would even think along those lines. (And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you don’t want to, and I ain’t tellin’.) Of course, the fandom doesn’t consist mainly of grade-schoolers. Many teens and twenty-somethings enjoy the show, too.

Anton Argentos:
And one thirty-something. XD
You guys are so adorable. I love this show, and I was born in 1985. Do the math. ;-)

<_< Thank you for airing the family laundry.


(Save it for Isabella, Silver One. Now scat; I have a post to write.)

*Trots off to find Isabella*

The infamous "Love Square" of Miraculous :-P
Of course, I heard all about the infamous “Love Square” and wondered if my overly-romantic inner self could survive da feelz...but I find I’m not as into it as I thought I would be (well, not until “Glacinator,” but even still...). 
After watching the Origins episodes (which I saw after four or five regular episodes ’cos I figured the rest of the show would make more sense if I knew how it all began), I found myself rooting for Adrien to find friends after (we assume) a lifetime of isolation from other kids (except Chloé, ugh). Friends, not romance. Yet.
One of my favorite moments on the show--this lonely, isolated boy goes to public school to make some friends, and he gets his wish. :D (Be patient, Marinette, and enjoy the honor of being his friend for now. Love will come at just the right time. Don't put the noodles in until the water boils. ;-) )I can sympathize with Marinette’s unrequited crush on Adrien (or is it? >:-)), but I found myself wishing she’d realize what an awesome thing it is to be Adrien’s friend. Wishing she’d cool her jets, hold her horses, pull back a little, and just enjoy the friendship for a while. 
Be patient and trust that love will come when the time is right (after all, these kids are only FOURTEEN, so it’s not like they’re going to get married anytime soon). As Master Fu said, wait until the water boils to put the noodles in. ;-)

 (Speaking of which....)
One thing that I find unique and interesting about this show is the ancient Chinese twist. Being something of a jewelry artist, I love the fact that the superpowers come from magical jewelry. Probably not an original idea, but a fun one—especially since it looks like many of them represent the various animals in the Chinese Zodiac. Some might argue that the show is subtly pushing the Eastern/New Age philosophy, but I prefer to look at it mostly as mythology or urban fantasy.

If anyone were to ask me who’s my favorite character on the show, I’d have to say Adrien/Cat Noir (yes, I know it’s technically Chat Noir, but they say Cat on the English dub, so there you are. Why they didn’t go ahead and call him Black Cat in the English version, I’ll never know).
 Adrien is such a gentleman, really. I especially love the fact that he’s not afraid to call Chloé out when she’s being mean (encouraging her to try and act better), or as Cat Noir, tell Ladybug when she’s being unreasonable, yet he does it without harsh accusations or yelling. Also, he has a strong sense of chivalry and fair play. I like that he takes fencing lessons, plays classical piano, and knows how to waltz (mind you, these were probably at his dad’s insistence, but on the whole, Adrien seems to enjoy them, and they are a part of who he is). All that to say, I love the slightly old-fashioned gentleman vibe this boy has, and how he makes it look “cool” rather than...well, old-fashioned. :-P As Cat Noir, he’s reckless and a notorious punster, but there’s still a bit of the chivalrous gentleman’s just more playful than when he’s Adrien. Kitty is also a bit of a flirt and tries too hard to impress Ladybug...which of course just endears him to his fans all the more. (And on a personal note, I see a lot of my boy Anton in this Cat....)
LadyNoir in one picture. LOL

Don’t get me wrong; I like Marinette, too. She’s cute and perky, creative and caring, helpful and supportive, and I love that she enjoys both fashion design and video games. A nice balance between “girly” and “nerdy.” I just find myself leaning more towards Adrien/Cat Noir.

Favorite secondary characters would be Alya, Nino, Juleka, Nathaniel, Max, and Markov.
Alya Césaire
Everyone needs a BFF like Alya. I love how positive and confident she is, always encouraging Marinette even while teasing her. Totally on board to help Marinette declare her feelings for matter how ridiculous her plans for doing so (see “Gigantitan”—ooh-ha!).

Nino Lahife
Nino is kind of a laid-back version of Alya—positive, supportive of his buddy...just not as impulsive or pushy as Alya tends to be. And can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that Nino is the only person (so far) to be akumatized because of righteous anger (or rather, what began as righteous anger), i.e. being angry because his best friend was being treated unfairly? 

filing_images_6865a9e13eec.jpg (200×200)
(Ironically enough, it's hard to find
good pix of Juleka....)
I mainly like Juleka because her favorite color is obviously purple 😊...and because nobody ever seems to hear or understand what I’m saying half the time, either. *Grunt* Quiet-voiced folk, UNITE!!! (“Stop shouting....”) /RANT 
Plus I like Midnights.† ^.^
Smiling Nathanael!
Is it just me, or does the emblem on his shirt
look like the Rebel Alliance logo from Star Wars?
And Nathanael...I mean, come on, he’s a redhead. ;-) (Actually, I kinda chuckle gleefully to myself over how many Flames* there are on this show.) But more than that, he’s quiet, sensitive, and artistic. In other words, not your typical rough-and-tumble or “macho” boy. Hopefully he’ll get more screentime/character development in later seasons.

†Midnight(s) = Collective term for black- or dark-haired people.
* Flame(s) = Collective term for red-haired person or persons. Coined in early 2018 as an alternative to the derrogatory-sounding "redhead" and "carrot-top," and the inaccurate "ginger."
~Tom's Dictionary of Whacked-out Terms and Old Family Sayings

Max is the typical computer nerd/boy genius-cum-inventor, which I think is really cool (especially since his best friend seems to be Kim, the class jock). And Markov is hands-down the cutest. Robot. EVER!
Max and Markov (Robostus - Episode 6 - Season 2)
Also, shoutout to Miss (Mrs.?) Bustier for her positive, caring attitude towards her students, and her efforts to help them with their troubles, and get them to treat each other nicely. Not to mention protecting Marinette from the akuma and initially resisting Hawkmoth’s influence. You go, girl. No matter everyone in your class (even Chloé!) loves you so much.

My biggest beefs and personal caveats with the show:

  • The rock ’n’ roll background/credits music, and the recurring theme of rock/pop stars. ’Cos I grew up with strong musical convictions, and heavy back-beat/loud music in general disturbs me. THAT SAID, it doesn’t detract from the main story that much and is easy enough to filter out or mute altogether.
  • More than one Transformation scene in one (20-minute) episode. Yeah, it’s cool and flashy and all, but come on; we don’t need to see it every time Adrien and Marinette have to become Cat Noir and Ladybug. It slows down the plot. (To the show’s credit, there’s a lot less of this in the latter part of Season One and what there is of Season Two. In fact, sometimes we don’t even see Cat’s transformation, or it’s modified.)
  • THE LIES! Just once, I’d like to see a show about teen superheroes where the kids actually take their parents/guardians into their confidence, and the parents are wise enough to keep the secret, and be a powerful support and source of wisdom for their super-kid. In that vein, it’s kind of ironic that Marinette/Ladybug is portrayed as hating lies and liars (“Liars are losers”), yet she continually lies to everyone around her...and not just about her secret identity, either.
  • All the singing in the Christmas Special. Don’t get me wrong; I grew up on Disney flicks, so I’m not opposed to singing in movies and such...but Miraculous isn’t that kind of show, so the singing felt out of character. Even Plagg sang. Plagg! And my childhood died when Santa Claws did his little number....
    I think it would have been much better with half the singing, and Plagg pulling a Flynn Rider and snarking, “What’s with all the singing?” and Adrien replying, “It’s Christmas.” :-P But I’m not sorry I watched it, for reasons listed in the Favorite Moments section....
  • I JUST REALIZED recently that Hawkmoth’s signature color is purple! AURGH! Why is purple always a villain color?! They’d better reform this guy in later seasons, or else give his Miraculous to someone who will use it properly (and treat poor little Nooroo better *hugs Nooroo*).
  • While skin-tight “super-suits” seem to be par for the course with superhero flicks, I’ a wee bit uncomfortable with them. Cat Noir’s isn’t so bad, as his suit has things like shoulder-pads/epaulets, boots, and his belt/“tail” to break it up visually. I kinda wish Ladybug’s suit had similar details, rather than being basically a second skin. Sometimes I feel they’re subtly making Ladybug a little too...but maybe that’s just my overly analytical mind reading more adult content where it doesn’t belong again. :-P *Bad Tom*

Things I love about the show (in no particular order):

Marinette and her parentsMarinette comes from a two-parent family who love each other dearly and support and encourage one another. It’s obvious Tom Dupain and Sabine Cheng are devoted to one another, and that Marinette enjoys spending time with them (especially her video game-playing dad). A refreshing element for a kids’ show.

  • Friendship, teamwork, loyalty, and love are highly valued.
  • While Ladybug and Cat Noir do their share of fighting with the villains, instead of killing them (too heavy for a kids’ show, after all) or throwing them in jail, they deal with the root cause of their villainy and free them from Hawkmoth’s evil influence. I also love that Ladybug has the power to put things back to normal after the battle is over (how many times have they toppled the Eiffle Tower on this show?!). Our Heros’ main focus—besides saving Paris and capturing akumas—is helping people. Ladybug often gives the victims a word of affirmation or encouragement afterwards.
  • Marinette is willing to admit when she’s in the wrong and does her best to make it right.
  • The fact that Marinette’s circle of friends encompass so many types of people, yet they all enjoy doing things together and repeatedly support and stand of for each other.

Favorite moments:
  • Cat Noir jumping in front of Ladybug to protect her from Timebreaker. He basically died for his lady. (But of course he didn’t stay dead because...Temporal Mechanics. ;-))
  • Ladybug giving Cat chin-scritches (“Good job, Kitty!”)
  • Ladybug basically organizing a “garbage band” to sing Mylene’s favorite song to help de-akumatize her. (CAT NOIR: Seriously, “smelly wolf”?! [My thoughts exactly, Kitty, LOL]) And all her friends being willing to pitch in and save their friend.
  • Ladybug chasing Cat Noir and calling, “Here, Kitty-kitty-kitty!” LOL!
  • Cat Noir licking himself just like a real cat, after Ladybug dumped his hypnotized self in the Seine. Ooh-hah!
  • Basically any time Cat Noir does anything like a real cat. XD
  • Pretty much Hawkmoth’s entire interaction with “Gigantitan.” (Seriously, Hawkmoth? Did you really think it would work to akumatize a baby?!)
  • Hawkmoth’s “I have made a terrible mistake” moments when akumatizing little kids (or robots with the mentality of little kids, LOL).
  • Cat Noir’s solo in the Christmas Special. Seriously, this bit contains some of the deepest Adrien/Cat Noir character development on the show prior to Season Two. And somehow, putting his angst and loneliness into song made it that much stronger. (“Im alone, like a cat in the night!”) The first of several moments from that point on where I just wanted to give Kitty a big hug. And when his anger culminates into “I’ll take your symbol of Christmas and burn it to the ground!” I’m sitting there thinking, “No, Cat! Don’t do it—don’t do it!” at the same time wondering what would happen if a Miraculous holder used his powers for evil, even though he isn’t akumatized. Then suddenly—Mom.
    It’s evident he loved his mother and misses her terribly, but I think this scene also indicates that she loved Christmas and made it a special time for him and his father. In that one brief second, he realizes he can’t go through with it, because it would have dishonored his mother’s memory.
    And that, friends, is when Cat Noir became my favorite character on the show.
  • The “Balcony Scene.” Wow—now I know why this is such a fave in the fandom. So many feels here, and so cool to see “the sensitive side of Cat Noir” (to quote Tikki). I found it interesting that he’d seek out Marinette for comfort after his disappointment. My theory is that, by this time, he realizes how kind and supportive Marinette is, and feels comfortable talking to her.
  • Pretty much all of “Befana.” Such a fun episode all-round!
  • Hawkmoth pleading with Adrien to transform after Adrien jumps off a building. He’s obviously terrified he’s mistaken about his son being Cat Noir, and that he’ll lose him. Shows the guy actually does care about his son after all.
  • Gabriel and Adrien watching the movie with Mrs. Agreste in the leading role.
  • Gabriel playing a piano duet with Adrien. Makes me wonder if he’ll reform eventually....
  • Kim asking Ondine on a date. Maybe the dude finally got it through his noggin that Chloé isn’t worth his affections...?
  • The fact that Chloé still treasures her favorite toy from childhood...and based her personal style on it! (Seriously—the bear is yellow with rhinestone buttons for eyes and has a black-and-white-striped tummy! Compare it to Chloé’s outfit and see if I’m right. ;-))
  • Chloé’s confession near the end of “Zombizou.” Wow, serious character development there.
  • Nino staying with Alya, even though he knew she’d turn into a zombie any moment and infect him.
  • Cat Noir driving a bus. Because *of course* a fourteen-year-old knows how to drive. XD
  • Marinette’s “date” with Nathanael (OK, technically he was The Evillustrator at that point, but whatever). So stinkin’ cute.

And a bunch more I’ve forgotten, but that’s enough. ;-P
I’m thinking of doing a couple more Miraculous-themed posts—one on my favorite and least-favorite episodes (the former of which will be hard, as most of them are pretty good), and perhaps a bit of fan-theory. If anyone’s interested, of course. No sense putting out all that effort if no one wants to read it, wot?

*EDIT* I was going to mention some Biblical/Christian parallels I saw in the show (which I'm sure were purely unintentional, as this is a secular show, after all)...but this fellow pretty much said most of what I had in mind, so check it out!

What are some of your favorite things about Miraculous? Any beefs? Shall I do some more MLB-related posts? If you haven’t seen the show yet, why not?