Between a Rock and a Hard Sky (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 8)

W.A.I.T. Button, 78 percent

“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Sky’!”

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[The curtain rises on a backdrop of a semi-distant mountain. Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, along with Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb of INSPIRED, stride along the stage floor’s treadmill with all the haste of a team on a mission.]

Allyn/Jack [grumbling ]: Why couldn’t Hatter have had sense enough to not try to take the load of the sky from Loki?

Annabelle: Well, one, he didn’t exactly know it was Loki. And two, they don’t call the Hatter mad for nothing.

Sir Wilbur: There’s got to be someone we can find to free Hatter. A titan, a god… a demigod, even. Annabelle, you know the Greek myths best of us all. Where do you recommend we search?

Annabelle: We could try the garden of the Hesperides. As Atlas’s daughters, they might know where he is. Of course, there’d be the dragon to deal with.

Allyn/Jack: No more dragons! I had my fill of the creatures in Act 3.

Annabelle: Okay, what about Heracles? We could maybe get him to hoist the sky just long enough for Hatter to slip out from underneath. That is, if he’s not too busy laboring for King Eurystheus—

Will/Hatter[’s voice from offstage ]: Guys! Wait up!

[The treadmill comes to a stop, as do the players upon it. All three turn in surprise as Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter jogs in behind them.]

Will/Hatter [panting ]: Finally. I’ve been chasing after you for a good twenty minutes!

Allyn/Jack: How did you get free??

Will/Hatter: Hmm? Oh, I remembered I had a couple Wonderland mushroom pieces in my pocket. One bite to make me big, another bite to shrink me back down to size faster than the sky could fall. I rolled out of the way a split second before I’d have been pinned again. Ta-da! Also: Atlas.

Sir Wilbur: He returned to the mountaintop?

Sure. Let’s pet that.

Sure. Let’s pet that.

Will/Hatter: No, I mean I picked up an atlas of local attractions on the way down the mountain. [displays oversized scroll ] All sorts of neat tourist traps, ‘round here! Wanna hit up the Aegean Petting Zoo? They’ve got baby selkies all the way from Scottish mythology, not to mention the Minitaur!

Annabelle: Minotaur, dude. With an “o”.

Will/Hatter: No, Minitaur – like, a teeny-tiny bull-headed man. It’ll be adorable. Let’s go see! [runs offstage ]

Allyn/Jack [calling after him ]: And then the North Pole? Hatter?… [heavy sigh ] I’m never going home, am I?

Sir Wilbur [placing a hand on Allyn’s shoulder ]: We’ll see to it you get there in the end.

Annabelle: True that, Jack! We lately-named Genre-nauts are always there for our friends.

[The three walk off after Will, no sooner disappearing than the mountain backdrop begins to rise, revealing inch by inch the rocky double-ramp wall seen in the last act. And at the top ramp’s apex, struggling under the weighted curtain of the sky, is none other than Will Scarlet.]

Will/Hatter [shouting desperately ]: Guys! Don’t fall for it! He’s not me – I’m still trapped! IT’S LOKI, GUYYYS!

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“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘selkies’ and ‘Minitaur’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

Puddles vs. Oceans: The “Strong Female Heroine” Convo Continues

A while back, I posted a snippet of my thoughts on the whole “strong female heroine character” thing. Soon after, the post prompted a discussion betwixt me and another Danielle E. with whom I’m friends on Facebook, in which I feel some worthwhile things were said. So (with my fellow D.E.’s permission, of course), I’m posting a transcription of our chat here to join the ongoing dialogue re: female characters.

Why I personally think this is a conversation worth having: Because it really shouldn’t be this hard, guys. Female characters are just characters, so you’d think anyone who could write an awesome dude could write an equally awesome chick. Gosh knows there are cool chicks aplenty in the real world. So why are they so tricky to come by in writing? (And that’s me preaching to my own self, too, since I’ve taken note of this as one of my creative challenges.) Until such time as crafting satisfactory females comes naturally, then, the conversation goes on. Here’s what a couple of Danielles had to add.

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DEC: When I think “strong female heroine”, I don’t think physical strength; I mean “well rounded female character”, which is hard to come by. Doesn’t mean they’re strong, or brave, or that I even like them. Just means that they are as rounded and whole as any male character, which can be rare, and I value that.

I like to practice something when I create a character. I write them as both genders for practice. I ask myself, “Would changing so-and-so’s gender ruin them?” If the answer is “yes”, then that’s exactly what I do. I write them as the opposite gender. It really reveals a lot about them, and my own perceptions on how each gender “should” be.

DES:  It’s awful, but I find it less bothersome creating girl characters if I can manage to not think of them as girls. It’s not that I don’t feel I can have girl charries do as much as boy charries; I just… don’t generally enjoy hanging out with fictional females as much. In real life, I’m more comfortable chatting with girls. In my head, I much prefer guys. Have fun with that, psychiatrists.

DEC: I think that’s because there’s such a lack of likeable female characters in literature. I’m that way too. ‘Tis why I’m trying to change that in myself.

DES: Quite probable. After all, I know more about writing from reading than from living. Of course, then there’s the objection that it’s not necessarily a female character’s job to be “likeable” – that there has, perhaps, been more pressure on them to be likeable than male characters receive. The question then arises, are there as many ways for female characters to be likeable as there are for males? That is, how many variations of personhood can a character display and still be liked by the reader, and how do those numbers stack up for women vs. men?

DEC: I think for me the reason I don’t like female characters as much isn’t because they aren’t sweet … they’re TOO sweet. They feel shallow, one dimensional. There isn’t anything they’re hiding … no darkness. It feels like they are a puddle, while their male companions are oceans. That’s what I don’t like. I guess I don’t like them because the creators are trying too hard to make me like them? XDDD

DES: *nods* Puddles vs. oceans. I think you may be onto something.

How many fathoms below can we go?

How many fathoms below can we go?

DEC: Even if they’re NOT sweet, they’re still shallow. It’s like they can only be one thing … either they’re sweet and dumb, smart and sassy, or tough and cold. In reality, a woman can be all of those things, wrapped up in a complex package.

DES: Analogy that popped into my brain: “Women aren’t just Lizzie Bennett. They can be Mr. Darcy, too.” That man came off as cold and rude, then gave a total #fail of a love confession, and in general kept people wondering, What in the world is wrong with this jerk? But by the end, reasons were provided in such a way that readers everywhere swoon at the mention of his name. Women characters, mayhap, are less frequently provided the sort of context that (at most) excuses or (at least) explains their behavior. They’re just made to be whatever the author requires of them at the time; are more devices than they are fully understood people. And readers can feel that, even if they can’t consciously articulate what’s going on.

DEC: YES, THANK YOU. Women and men, we’re both equally complex, both equally persons. I need to see more of that in literature.

DES: I’ll try to work on it. X)

DEC: Me, too; I’m certainly not innocent, ha!

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Any thoughts from you, readers? It’s open mic time; join the conversation in the comments!

Secret of the Souls ARC Giveaway!

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Secret of the Souls by Terri Rochenski!

Check it out!

Secret of the Souls

Thrust out of their homes by a human High Priest on a vengeful mission, the Natives of Derlund no longer have a place to call their own. One escaped capture, however, and now she, Hyla, is the only one who can save her people.

For, Hyla, though, saving her nation isn’t her ultimate goal—returning to the Pool of Souls is. Becoming its Guardian and preserving their faith is her heart’s desire. The perils of her current journey, though, could leave her unable to fulfill that dream.

To find her way back to the Pool, Hyla must live among dangerous, powerful humans willing to defend the Natives, and must submit herself—her Talents—to them. While her protection is paramount, plots to end Hyla’s life will push her to her physical and emotional limits.

On the edge of sanity, her courage tested, and convictions nearly broken, Hyla’s final test of loyalty to her faith comes with the death of one she could have loved.

Readers will experience Hyla’s spiritual and self-discovering journey once more, in this latest addition to the Pool of Souls duology.

And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.

To YOU!

You don’t even have to be a book blogger!

Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review* by October 12th 2014, you are eligible to enter.

Interested?

Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of September 21st, 2014 to enter.

*A review should consist of your honest thoughts regarding a book, usually a few paragraphs long and around 150 – 500 (or more, if desired) words in length.

About Terri Rochenski

Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

In Which the Guest Author Speaks of Foresight and Surprises

As today’s stop on the TORN Blog Tour, Ever On Word is proud to present Laney McMann! *studio audience applause*

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Torn Blog Tour Button

For my guest post, Danielle was curious about how much of TORN, the second book in the Fire Born Novels trilogy, I saw coming while I was writing the first book, TIED.

This is a great question and luckily an easy one to answer. I saw everything and nothing while I was writing TORN. ;) What I mean by that is I knew exactly where the story would go, where I planned and wanted it to go, BUT the route in which it took to get to that place surprised me. My characters always surprise me when I allow them to lead rather than trying to direct everything, and I absolutely LOVE that.

At the end of TIED, I knew that TORN would be even darker in nature. I knew where the story had to go, but the extent to which the characters delved into that darkness was deeper than I’d envisioned, and the level of emotion followed in suit. So did the tears. TORN ended up being an emotional whirlwind that I didn’t completely see coming. Layla and Max grew as characters, Justice and Tristan moved to the forefront, and a few unforeseen, as well as foreseen, characters developed into major players. All in all, the story became much bigger in scope than TIED, and it continues to grow.

Writing is always such an awesome ride, and I loved creating a larger world for Layla and Max to live in. A few tears were shed during the process, and I know more will come, as I’m finding as many surprises writing the third, and final, book in the trilogy, TRUE.

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Torn cover

About TORN: Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

Laney McMann 2

About Laney: With a passion for the supernatural and all things magical, Laney developed a voracious appetite for reading fantasy at a young age. A vivid imagination helped set the stage for creating her own worlds and placed her onto the writing path.

By the time she reached her teens, she’d accumulated notebooks full of poems, which led to short stories and finally novels. Young adult dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and mythology are among her favorite genres.

A former classical dancer and chef, she grew up in sultry Florida where she still resides with her family.

You can find her occasional ramblings on Twitter.

Book updates on her author page at Goodreads.

Her Facebook Profile for inspiration and randomness.

Updates on The Fire Born Novels at her Facebook Author Page

Here interests on Pinterest.

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Webite: http://laneymcmann.weebly.com/

You can also contact her by email at: laneymcmannyaauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

Enter Laney’s Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win signed paperback copies of TIED and TORN, or e-copies of the same!

Scarlet’s Kiss and Tell

Ho, Ever On Word readers! Will Scarlet, here. And normally, this would be the part of the week where I’d say, “Welcome, one and all, to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre, yadda, etc., and so on.

But not today.

Now, don’t you panic, you, like, three diehard fans of the feature. (Love you guys, by the way. Rock stars, all of you. Don’t ever change.) I’m not calling it quits on the Saturday skits, and the “Jack and the Genre-nauts” series will resume next week. But if you know me, you know I like to mix things up and try new stuff and generally go as crazy on Danielle’s blog as she’ll let me get away with. (Which is a lot, since I’m totally her favorite. …sorta tied with Edgwyn, but whatever.) So starting soon, there’s going to be a new blog feature here every second Saturday. ‘Cause I don’t just want to run a theatre. I want a talk show!

Here’s the deal: I love meeting new people. It is my absolute favorite thing – along with swordplay and snacks and the entertaining time-sucks of the Internet. Danielle, of course, can only write so many new kids for me to play with. Fortunately, she is so not the only author your world has to offer.

HEY, CHARACTERS! Yes, you – the fictional ones! Can you hear me, out there? I want to talk to you! I want to drag you into my spotlight and show you off to everyone within my online reach! So here’s what you gotta do. You listening? Good. You tell your authors to hit up Danielle’s contact page and give her the following information:

- Your name [e.g., Will Scarlet]

- Brief character description [e.g., the manic dreamboat of Robin Hood’s Merry Men; friendly, funny, a skilled stage combatant; and did I mention he’s gorgeous, ‘cause wow; also, not full of himself at all; currently craving cookies]

- Brief summary of character’s story/book [e.g., um, insert clever blurb here. Danielle’s drafted a few for Book One of the trilogy, but she’s not altogether sure of the worth of any of them, so… Sherwood meets Camelot meets modern-day Renaissance Faire. Plot ensues. It’s epic]

- Book’s availability, if applicable [e.g., The Outlaws of Avalon, coming sometime after Danielle wraps up The Wilderhark Tales; stay tuned]

Once we’ve received your preliminary stats, I’ll send you a few interview questions, you’ll answer them, and then Danielle will schedule a Saturday in between Interactive Theatre skits to post our little chat to the blog!

Oh, and one more thing. At the very end of our interview, you’ll have a “Truth or Dare”-esque choice before you: You’ve either got to tell me your author’s biggest, deepest, darkest, most mortifying and/or hilarious secret, or kiss me. Treat that as punishment or positive incentive as you will. ;D

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

Danielle whipped up a logo for me, because she is awesome first class.

Sounds totally fun, right? A bit of free publicity for you and your author, a little something to help keep me from going stir-crazy over here… Winning all around! So what are you waiting for? It’s first come, first serve! Unless your author wants to try to coordinate the post with some bookish release or event they’re doing, in which case, work it out with Danielle; she tries to be obliging. Now start clamoring to be a part of this, or it will seriously break my heart. (I do this for YOU, people! …And for me, but for YOU!)

‘Til next time, friends: Scarlet out!

Open Journal: A Scribble for Auld Lang Syne

Like my “Inspired” main character Annabelle, I used to journal a lot. Before I was a professional writer, I just wrote. Once a day, twice or thrice a day, or all day long, I’d scribble out my daydreams as they happened, or whimper or rage at the latest contributor to my teen angst.

Now I’ve got mid-twenties angst, but only rarely get it down on paper. I’m so busy writing for everyone else – books for publishing, statuses for Facebook, tweets for Twitter, posts for my own blog and others, e-mails… – that I don’t take much time anymore to write just for me.

A snapshot of the last time I sat down for a bit of therapeutic self-writing. 1574, wunnit?

A snapshot of the last time I sat down for a bit of therapeutic self-writing. 1574, wunnit?

On days like today, I kinda miss it. My brain’s worn out from a storm of social interaction. Until I recover (which I will, sooner or later; I always do, ‘til the next wearying plunge), it’s hard to make myself do anything useful. Even mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds takes it out of me. I’d hate to start reading a new book when I’m too numb to give it fair consideration. Lying down for a nap or plunking down in front of Netflix would feel like a waste of time. I haven’t received any messages saying I need to hurry up and ABC before XYZ deadline. So whaddo I do?

Some long-shushed part of me murmured, Try journaling.

The overindulged part of me that claims productivity as its drug of choice didn’t think that sounded worthwhile enough. So this is the compromise. Writing for me, and posting for the public. An open journal entry. Not a proper blog piece, by Ever On Word’s usual standard; not a post with a point. Just me and words, wandering at our leisure, a little like the olden days.

If this post is well-received by my readers, perchance I’ll make this one of my irregular regular features, like my erratic book reviews and that occasional “hey, here’s a thing somebody else is doing, go see” kind of stuff I do. Come to think of it, the only truly regular feature on here is Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre on Saturdays. Go figure.

“As if I’d let you slack on my time,” says Will, snorting a laugh.

Oh, are you going to try to show up during my journal posts, too?

“Only likely,” he says, nodding. “You say ‘free-writing’, I hear ‘free-for-all’. It wouldn’t be at all like me not to snatch at a piece of the spotlight.”

True enough. Whatever. Gosh knows it’s not worth the fight trying to ban you. Heck, anyone in my head is welcome to weigh in as they wish.

My inner Annabelle really is starting to show, isn’t it?

Art imitating me, me imitating art. The symbiosis cycles ever onward.

TORN Release Day Blast

Shouting for a friend: As of today, TORN, book #2 of the Fire Born trilogy by fellow J. Taylor Publishing author Laney McMann (whom you may remember from this interview of yesteryear), has launched! Click here to add the novel on Goodreads…before or after you read on so you’ll know what the book is even about. ;D

Torn cover

Find Max.

That’s all Layla cares about. Not healing from the Fomore attack. Not finding answers to how she survived a fall that nearly killed her. Nothing will stop her. She will find him. She’ll even pair up with an overbearing Fallen Angel who’s hell bent on making everything harder than it needs to be if she has to.

Protect Layla.

For Max, nothing else matters. Not the bruises covering his body. Not the pain radiating from his broken bones. Not even his hands tied behind his back. He will find a way to save Layla, and the Fomore will pay if they’ve hurt her.

Every. Single. One of them.

In the second installment of The Fire Born trilogy, a new breed of villain looms—one Layla and Max will never suspect, and this killer has nothing to lose. Better yet, with Max and Layla’s deaths, victory is in the grip of the enemy.

Will Max and Layla find each other in time, or is it already too late for them both?

I’ll have Laney over this time next week to grace us with a guest post as part of the TORN blog tour. In the meantime, TORN is available for purchase in paperback and e-formats via Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so by all means feel free to grab your own copy(ies) today!

Furthermore, the e-version of TIED (Fire Born #1) is currently on sale for just 99 cents, so no better time than now to catch up on the series. And let us not forget you can enter Laney’s Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win 2 signed paperback copies of TORN, 2 e-copies of TORN, and 5 signed TORN bookmarks.

/End blast. Commence tour! (See schedule of stops here.)