Ah, Valentine’s Day – or Singles Awareness Day, as I’ve heard it alternatively called.
Like most holidays, it’s just another day to me. But what with the upcoming release of Outlaws of Avalon 2 – “The Marriage of Allyn-a-Dale” – perhaps it’s no surprise that the other day found me with marriage on my mind. My dreams around that much-romanticized institution have certainly undergone a number of transitions, through the years. From innocent…
5-year-old Me: *wants to marry Aladdin*
Aladdin: *is with Jasmine*
5yo Me: “Oh. …Okay, but can I be Aladdin, though?”
Tween Me: “Boys are gross.”
Grownups: “You won’t always think so. ;)”
Future Me to Tween Me: *whispers* “Spoiler alert. Everybody’s gross.”
Teen Me: *wants to marry Kevin of the Backstreet Boys*
Kevin: *is already married*
Teen Me: “That’s too bad.” *shoulders imaginary shotgun* “…For his wife.”
Teen Me: *wants to marry a certain boy from art camp*
Teen Me: *follows him everywhere until he’s sick of me*
Future Me: *bumps into the boy again at a concert* … *also, his fiancée*
Future Me: *smiles the smile of the Forever Alone™ *
New Adult Me: *scans every male face encountered, searching for husband potential*
New Adult Me: *is continually confused/disappointed that not one outing yet has resulted in a “how I met your super-cute billionaire grandfather” story*
New Adult Me: *wants to marry Edgwyn Wyle*
Edgwyn: *is already married*
New Adult Me: “WHY? Whyyy did I write that?!” *curses self for a fool*
Mid-20s Me: “If I truly loved a man, could I really condemn him to a life of matrimonial bondage to an asexual head case like me?”
BFF: “You maybe shouldn’t, no.”
Mid-20s Me: “Nobody asked you, villain.”
Mom: “Your special someone is out there.”
Late-20s Me: *smiling the smile of the Forever Alone™ * Okay.
Late-20s Me: “If only I could just marry Will Scarlet and call it a day.”
Will: *laughs too loud and long for anybody’s comfort* “Babe, I love you like no other, but not in a million universes would that work.”
Which brings us to this fine February 14, 2017. ^_^
Me after Germany: “I would rather die than live in a house with some man in it again.”
Allyn-a-Dale: “To be fair, you would rather die than do most things, these days.”
Me: “True. Say, Allyn, what are your thoughts on marriage?”
Allyn: *shrugs* “I was raised in a fairytale world. What do I know?”
Me: “Once your second novel is through with you, maybe a little more…
There’s more than Fey magic in the air as Avalon Faire prepares for another summer’s performance. This time the show stars Allyn-a-Dale in his role from stories of old: A minstrel with a forbidden romance in need of a little outlaw intervention. Alas, eternal life imitates art as Allyn finds himself slipping heart-first into ill-advised infatuation with an Outsider – the Robin Hood fangirl who’s landed her dream job as the Merry Minstrel’s wife.
As new love blooms, an old love festers, the scarring shadow of Allyn’s dead father threatening to devastate the young minstrel’s hard-won harmony. And elsewhere on the undying isle, the cracks of immortality are beginning to show. Caught between the mysterious meddling of Morganne le Fey and the wild schemes of Will Scarlet, it’s up to Sherwood’s outlaws to navigate past and future, legend and prophecy, treachery and passion, before Avalon is torn apart from the inside out.
(Also, the door’s still open for folks interested in an early read ‘n’ review of the book.Hit me up if you want in!)
Ah, Valentine’s Day; the day of lovers. Lovers of significant others, or – for us romantically unattached people – lovers of other significant things. Things like, say, books! And/or blogging about books, and/or chatting it up with other people who also love books, blogging, or combining the twain. For people such as these (attached or otherwise), Katelyn of Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa of Alexa Loves Books have put together a love-filled weekend blog hop by the name of The Book Blogger Love-A-Thon!
Everyone who signed up got paired with another bookish blogger for a blind date— well, no, it was actually just an interview swap. But my Love-A-Thon partner and I hit it off quite well, carrying on in precisely the way I once upon a time made friends with my beloved writing bestie, so if we’re calling this interview a friend date, I think we can likewise call it a success. Presenting my exchange with Mara of the Book Marauder blog, Part 1!
(Edit: Stay tuned after the interview — that is, keep scrolling down — for my response to the Love-A-Thon’s first Mini Challenge: Book Spine Poetry!)
Danielle: Hello, Mara! Thank you for joining me. First things first: What is the most precious object in your possession, and why do you value it so highly? (No, I’m totally not planning to have any hired thugs steal it for ransom money; don’t be absurd. *looks oh-so innocent*)
Mara: (Can we please note that you chose to start this with a really meaningful question and the first one I was going to ask was “So, N*SYNC or Backstreet Boys as a writing soundtrack?” haha)
It’s probably my sister’s copy of “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyesky. It’s the most trashed and coffee-stained book I have ever held in my hands, and usually my books need to be super clean (I think it’s gotten to a point where I need help ahhhh), but it just has so much character. I actually had a fire scare at my place recently, and it was the first thing I grabbed when I bolted down the stairs, which did surprise me. I expected I’d go for my phone or laptop, but nope, rescued that battered and dog-eared book instead.
So let me ask you, what are the top three things you’d save if your house caught fire?
Danielle: (Lol! For the record, Backstreet Boys, all the way!)
A house fire: One of my greatest realistic fears. o.o I’m pretty compulsive about the state of my belongings, too, so I get what you mean about wanting your books clean and tidy. Know what’s worse for books than coffee stains, though? Burning to ash! In the event of a fire…
1) I’d go for my flashdrive first, as it contains a careful backup of my cherished documents and pictures. I’m pretty sure my mind would snap completely if I lost those irreplaceable files.
2) Hmm, now it gets trickier. What to save next? Ahh, my ocarina! With my house burned to the ground, I’ll need the reassurance of music in my life. And, y’know, trying to lug the piano out the door might not work out so well.
3) As there can only be three, we’ll make the last item my “Wicked” hoodie. I’ll need the cozy comfort only a hoodie can bring, plus it comes with the lovely memory of when I bought it – the first (and so far only) time I’ve seen “Wicked” onstage.
Speaking of lovely memories – or perhaps not so lovely – what’s the earliest thing you can remember?
Mara: (It’s uncanny how this is actually 100% legit the first memory I have and how I will help Bruno become famous with it ha!)
The first thing I can remember is me sitting in a stroller, looking up at a big palm tree overflowing with monkeys, and being surrounded by tigers, giraffes and bears. Well, you certainly ask yourself what a little girl would be doing in the presence of such dangerous animals, and so did I in my 2-year-old mind, but turns out it was only a toy store and my mum was buying a Christmas present for me (a very pretty monkey I named Mr. Nielson), convinced I was asleep. I feel like that monkey has been a constant part of my life ever since. For 20+ years now. Wow. He is watching me right now. And he looks really creepy now that it’s old and faded and just STARING all the time. It used to be so much more, with all that kid imagination turning him into anything he wanted to be. (Am I the only one who just KNOWS that this interview will be a walk down nostalgia lane somehow? haha)
Have you had something that long that you can’t part with? Or something that represents your inner child or helps you connect with it? I feel like that’s why I read so obsessively, because it seems to be the only time I can connect with my mini-me’s full-on imagination now that I seem to have grown up. It’s like books (and Mr. Nielson) are my own personal Peter Pan.
Danielle: Look, Bruno! You’re famous! Do you forgive me for leaving you to die in a burning house, now? ^^ …Aw, he looks so defeated. Fine! I choose him over my “Wicked” hoodie. I hope that cheers him up, some. Related note: We should totally include pics of Bruno and Mr. Nielson in our blog posts!
I don’t think I do have many things I’ve had longer than Bruno. (He’s been with me since I was 7.) But I’ve found that objects aren’t the best thing to bring back my inner child: It’s music! When I hear songs from waaay back in my childhood, it’s like emotional time-traveling. It’s crazy how old melodies and lyrics can stick in my head, even if I haven’t thought about them in a decade or more!
This calls for a musical question. (Heh, heh, our readers are getting a good look at how our minds move between topics, aren’t they?) What is the last song you listened to, and how did it make you feel?
Mara: (I’ve just asked Mr. Nielson, and he is ready to make his net debut any time we want him too! I’m pretty sure Bruno needs the confidence boost, too, after you left him to die in an inferno!)
By the way, I had to google ocarina (I am a failure, I know), and wow, it looks awesome. I wish I could play something as unusual, all I ever got were violin lessons. I’m sighing defeatedly right now, just so you know. (How long have you played?)
The last song I listened to was… drum roll… the Star Wars title theme Revenge of the Sith style. Yeah. I’m THAT cool. It always manages to make me feel empowered and, funnily enough, very on-topic, nostalgic. I always wanted to be Queen Amidala (saying “I always wanted to be Princess Leia” wasn’t an option because yes, I am too young to work the original trilogy, so there goes my awesomeness again).
What’s your favorite writing soundtrack? And, because I’m endlessly curious, what’s the one instrument you wish you’d learned but didn’t?
Danielle: Ah, the violin! My youngest sister’s played since she was 2-years-old, the little prodigy, while my other little sister played flute, piccolo, and bassoon. I had twelve years of piano lessons, with some clarinet, tenor saxophone, and percussion mixed in for flavor. I didn’t know what an ocarina was until my first summer working at a Renaissance Faire, a couple years ago, and my parents bought one for me as a birthday present last year. So I’ve been teaching myself how to play for the last few months. All my previous music experience is helping the process along, I think. : )
My favorite writing soundtrack… I listened to a lot of “Pirates of the Caribbean” during last National Novel Writing Month (are you familiar with NaNoWriMo? ^^), since that project was set on (and beneath) the sea. I’m also a big fan of the “Lord of the Rings” scores. Other favorite songs include “Tarnished Silver” by Heather Dale, “Dancing Through Life” from “Wicked”, a whoooole lot of songs from Disney… But it’s no use trying to write when these are playing, because I’ll be too distracted by loving the music!
As for an instrument I wish I’d learned to play, I really wish I could master the lute. I plan to learn someday, so I can be like my minstrel characters! They are to me as Queen Amidala is to you. ^_^
Speaking of characters (hello, one of my favorite topics!), who are your top three favorite literary characters of all time? …or of today, since I know how these lists can change!
Mara: I just love NANOWRIMO! Ahh! And I also adore film soundtracks for reading and writing! Have you listened to the X-Men: First Class one? It’s perfection. (Can you blame Wicked for distracting you, though? I can’t sit still when Defying Gravity comes on, I have to belt out the lyrics no matter where I’m at.)
I’m sorry this took me so long to answer, but I had some serious discussion going on with practically everyone I know as to which characters to put on my top 3 list.
(It still breaks my heart to leave out so many *sits in corner and sobs*) Well, here goes nothing:
1. Holden Caulfield (I know that’s pretty cliché, but damn, The Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books. People either love or hate Holden, but I think that’s what makes him such a great character to begin with – he gets a reaction out of everyone. I think it’s super important for a character to leave a mark, and everyone has had a little Holden inside of them at some time in their lives, and the fact he’s been persevering for so long makes him my top choice, I think. ARGH THIS IS SO HARD.)
2. Gandalf (because he’s Gandalf. He’s got some of the best lines in the entire book and he’s been an inspiration for so many other characters in all kinds of genres (*cough*Dumbledore*cough*). He’s almost like a real guiding light to the reader, and I love how he just “is”. He just steps right out of the pages.)
3. Richard Gansey (The Raven Boys – because, well, I love him to bits. He’s not necessarily up there with the other greats, but he’s my most personal choice, because I really, really wish I had his sense of wonder and adventureness (is that even a word? I think I just made that up). What really made me just sit there in awe after I finished that book was how it didn’t take anything to imagine him. He just sort of forms in your head and stays right there and stays with you long after you’re done reading.)
My explanations are really off, but it’s SO HARD TO PICK JUST THREE. I think I’m going to stay in this little cocoon of an existential crisis for some more.
But first: as a writer, what do you think is the hardest part of “creating” a character? What makes them real in your opinion? And how do you go about making them work on page?
(Is it possible for books to attack you? I think they know I left out all of their characters on this list… oh God, I feel so bad…)
2) Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in the post. (If you find yourself in want of options, Feather ‘n’ Rose recommended a site that may have some word-lovers drooling. Luciferous Logolepsy. Even its name is old and delicious!)
3) Provide a definition of your word, and use it in a sentence/short paragraph/mini story vaguely related to the particular week’s chosen theme.
4) Sign up properly on the host post’s linky list so participants can easily find each other and share their logophilistic joy.
5) Be a hero by sharing these retro words with the world!
I’ve been participating in the weekly fun via my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page, giving myself the extra challenge/fun of relating every word I pick to my re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend (a.k.a. the magnum opus to be self-published after the completion of “The Wilderhark Tales”). But I figure, hey, since I’ve gotten in the habit of having my vignettes all pre-written and ready to go, no reason I can’t pop over here real quick and post it for the blog-inclined to see, too!
So, without further delay, here’s my word-saving civic duty of the day.
The theme: Roses.
The word: “Barbigerous”, an adjective meaning “having a beard”.
The Example: Will Scarlet presented the bouquet with a flourish. “Roses are red,
Scarlet is, too.
And speaking of red things, here!
These are for you!”
Little John looked down at the ribbon-bound blooms. “Why are you giving me these?”
“Why? Look at a calendar for once, will you? It’s Valentine’s Day!”
An expression as black as the beard framing Little John’s mouth defied Will to say something stupid. “So?”
Will heaved a sigh. “So Robin’s got Marion, Arthur’s got Guinevere, and you and me? Well, at least we’ve got each other – even if you do make for a huge, barbigerous sort of woman.” Will pulled a pathetic puppy-dog expression. “Humor me for half-a-minute, please? All the Faeries just laughed at me when I tried to woo one last year.”
His turn to sigh, now, Little John rolled his eyes skyward. “Fine,” he rumbled, taking the rose bouquet. “Even if you do make for an absurd, mentally-challenged sort of woman.”
Will walked off, shaking his head. “Romance is so dead.”
*Notice: From here ‘til Labor Day, my weekends will be dedicated to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. So while I’ll still try to participate on the “Ballad” page when I can, this begins Ever On Word’s hiatus from Save-a-Word Saturday. Thanks for joining me hitherto, and I hope to get right back into the groove in September!
Don’t look now, but tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. …or Spend Big Money on Your Woman Day, but let us not be jaded. In honor of this celebration of lovers, I’ll share a poem I wrote from the perspective of a minstrel’s hypothetical sweetheart – for few things inspire poetry better than love and minstrelsy. Enjoy, and loving wishes to you all.
* * *
It was not spring.
Such stories are meant for the spring –
the time of new things stirring…
But it was winter yet.
He was cold.
And he said he would not mind, but for his hands.
They’d gone so white.
They’d lost near all their feeling.
They could not do as he bid them, and his soul was wounded sore;
his song a stream the winter cold had frozen.
He needed warmth,
and the world had none to give him.
But I had home and hearth and heat; therefore said I to him:
Come in, and see what I may do
To be the spring for you.
The fire pulled the blood back to his fingers.
The blood drew back the feeling –
pain, first, but then the springtime stirring…
They moved over his instrument anew –
thick and clumsy still,
but more eloquent all the time.
He said he wished to thank me for the thaw;
said were it not winter, he would gather blossoms by the armful –
great bouquets from field and garden –
for the fair flower before him.
But as the ground was barren, it was this he offered me:
Listen, and hear what I may play
To bring you spring today.
His fingers plucked the strings above his lute’s carven rosette.
The notes fell sweet as gentle rain upon my ear and heart.