Things I Love About Outlaws 3

By the time we hit the October release of “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”, I’ll have spent enough time reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading this final book in the Outlaws of Avalon trilogy to be heartily sick of it. So this is probably a good time in the publication prep process to remind myself of all the reasons I actually do adore this book. Seriously, the whole series is my favored child, but Book 3 is the best of the best. And here’s why:

Things I Love About #LEGENDofAaD

Medieval Sherwood! Awesome as it is watching my outlaws in a modern Renaissance Faire, we all know that the proper habitat for a Robin Hood story is the one and only Sherwood Forest. (Don’t come at me talking ‘bout Barnsdale. I know some accounts place him there, but I’m not here for that.)

– *hearts for eyes* The bromance is strong with this one. So much so, that I briefly toyed with the idea of titling Book 3 “The Brotherhood of Allyn-a-Dale”. (Would’ve tied into the whole thing with the monks, too, for double the aptness.) But “Legend” just sounded so much more legendary that I decided to let the brotherhood theme stand without titular representation.

Brotherhood of Allyn-a-Dale

The songs. There aren’t many – only two full ones, and a snippet of another (not counting the bonus song at book’s end and the fact that the whole story is laid out like a symphony or something) – but they’re so good. Expect recordings that don’t do them justice, eventually!

– Every time Allyn embraces being a badass. There are several instances of this. It makes me happy. *blubbers something about my baby minstrel’s come so far*

The villains! I can never write enough villains to suit me, but this book has its share – ranging from “ugh, you awful creature, how dare you” to “DELIGHTFULLY CREEPY” to mah boi Sheriff Swanton who

1) coincidentally looks a heckuva lot like Richard Armitage’s Gisborne from BBC’s Robin Hood,

and 2) *cough* is basically me if I’d been born a white nobleman in 12th-century England *cough*.

Swanton Don't Care

When Will Scarlet goes deer stalking.

– When Robin Hood patrols the highway.

– When Millerson… well, that’s really it. Just, when Millerson.

– As I once put it on Twitter:

I love scenes w/ Robin Hood & his homies & nbd physical contact. Merry Men got their problems, but “too bro to touch” ain’t one.

The Final Battle. I… really can’t say much more than that without giving something away, but… yeah. I get way too into it during every re-re-re-read.

The final chapter. *sniffles* Just get there, you guys.

Things I Hate About It, Tho

Time travel. Specifically, having to write a time-travel plot. I didn’t suffer the last time I dabbled in wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff because, I dunno, I guess “The Seventh Spell” was just a li’l angel who let itself come out easy. But “Legend” tangled up my head, man. Probably because, magical shenanigans aside, I tried to hang on to the barest semblance of realism in my portrayal of England under Henry II. But let’s be clear up front, y’all: This is less Historical Fantasy than it is “historical” FANTASY, savvy?

– Every time I work on the book, Will and Allyn get wrecked. That’s the risk you run, living on in the author’s head, outside the book: Rereading means reliving. So I’m very sorry, character friends, for all the feels that you must repeatedly suffer. Yes, you may cry through my eyes whenever you need to.

Release Day is still 5 weeks away?!? I don’t want us all to have to wait that long! But we do. Meaning it’ll be at least that long before I get to hear everything YOU GUYS love about “Legend”! Though I guess you could always list what you love about the cover and blurb…

Legend cover 02, front

Long ago: Hailed as heroes, killed as criminals, an extraordinary band of outlaws met their end in Sherwood Forest – all except the four who were supernaturally saved, and the one who did not exist. …Not yet.

Now: With Avalon Faire’s living legends finally free to move between the realms of magic and modernity, there’s no dream too fantastic to reach – including that kept alive by a secret society, awaiting only the right time, and the right minstrel, to rewrite history.

Just when the future seems brightest, the Merry Men find themselves thrust into the past, facing a second chance at the lives they might have lived … or the death they might not have the luck to cheat twice. For the otherworldly Allyn-a-Dale, it’s all in a day’s destiny. For an already struggling Will Scarlet, it’s a nightmare that may prove black enough to break him. And for the whole of the band, it’s anyone’s guess whether courage, cunning, and camaraderie can win out against their most infamous enemies: The Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisborne, and – for once in eternity – Time.

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No Good Men, But a Darn Good Book

Every now and then, there’s this book that it seems like absolutely everybody is raving about, and I glance at the premise to see if it sounds even remotely up my alley, and what do you know, it actually kind of does, and eventually I just reach the point where I scream in surrender and buy the book, praying it will at least halfway live up to the hype.

Yup, that was the case with the book to be reviewed below. Consider this my contribution to the hype.

The Book: “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy…whatever you call a superhero comic book movie of a novel.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

BlurbA masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question

My Thoughts: In a word, I’d call the book “interesting”. Not “interesting” in the diplomatic way you use it when you’re not sure yet what else you can say about a thing. “Interesting” in that it kept a firm grip on my interest. It didn’t have me racing through the pages in a panic to know what came next; it was too calm a thing for that. But when I was reading, it made me want to read on. And when I wasn’t reading, it made me rather wish I were.* Though I wasn’t emotionally hijacked, I was nonetheless totally invested. I’m not even sure how the heck Schwab pulled that off. (I wonder how much the extraordinary touch of Victor Vale** may have had to do with it.)

* (And once I’d finished reading it, I was bummed for about a day, then shrugged and started rereading it, ‘cause YOLO.)

** (And since it’s asterisk time, can I just say: I love the thing Victor does with Sharpies. It totally goes against my personal code, but no matter; it’s still cool when he does it.)

“There are no good men in this game.”

So spake one of the characters, and may well have spoken true. There was no pure white, and no solid black, leaving the reader to choose a shade of gray to root for. The villain or his wicked archnemesis; pick your pleasure. There were characters I liked more than others, characters I very much wished not to die, and characters for whom I wished the opposite. It was harder to find characters I couldn’t pity. Even the worst of the bad guys had their sympathetic half-a-moments.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): For someone (like me) who frequently finds herself drawn to the villains of a tale by their dark complexity, “Vicious” is a book to savor.

Whaddaya think, readers? Sound like a literary bandwagon you’d be game to hop on? You can sit by me. ^^

“Versatile 2 and 3” or “They Like Me! They Still Really Like Me!”

Remember this little graffito*?

            *Noun: “A drawing or inscription made on a wall or other surface, usually so as to be seen by the public. Often used in the plural [graffiti].” I had “Remember this little” all typed up, and was coming up blank for an end of the sentence. A glance through the dictionary revealed this gem not often heard (at least in my experience), and come on, this is Ever On Word, of course I had to share it with you.

            In any event, I am twice honored to announce that Ben of Story Multiverse and Ashley Mackler Paternostro of La Bella Novella have nominated me for my second and third Versatile Blogger Awards! The pair of them also gave very nice reasons as to why, which doubtless would have made me blush if my face was actually prone to reddening.

            For those whose minds are blanking on what this entails, let me dust off the rules from last time:

1. Add a picture of the award. (Check!)

2. Thank your nominator. (This I have done, and now do so again: Thank you, Ben and Ashley!)

3. Tell your readers 7 things about yourself.

4. Give this award to 15 fellow bloggers and inform them the joyous tidings.

            Alas, I pretty much cleaned out the list of blogs I follow during my last award ceremony. So tell you what I’m going to do, folks: In honor of the magic inherent in the number 3 (and so as to leave myself a little wriggle room, just in case I’m versatile again before I’ve had a chance to pad my blogroll), this number of nominees shall I here set forth. And because 3 is but one-fifth of 15, I shall likewise share one-fifth of the 7 things about myself. (That’s right – 1.4 things. I’ll make it work.)

            So, firstly, tonight’s nominees. Envelope please

            For his comedic monologues on writing – and, in particular, fantasy… Rewen Tremethick, The Hyperteller. (Applause!)

            For her bold, colorful paintings that are gorgeous enough to hang on one’s wall (seriously, I’m the proud owner of her 2012 calendar)… Reina Cottier NZ Artist. (Huzzahs!)

            And for her fun, writerly spins on fables and general awesomeness (there’s a good chance you’ll hear more about her, eventually; I’m reading her books)… Catherine Austen’s Blog. (Hip-hip-hurrahs!)

            And now, 7 divided by 5 things about me:

            1 = When I get my first book published, I’m going to celebrate by purchasing a lute. I’d determined this some while before writing “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”, although if “Ballad” does become my first novel to hit the shelves, the commemoration will be that much more appropriate.

            0.4 = If I had to pick my Top Ten Favorite (Non-Animated) Movies of All Time (or At Least if You Ask Me Today), they would be (in no particular order):

            “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” – the music is excellent, the villains delight me, and I cannot help but be impressed by the piratical mythology those writers came up with over coffee at some unholy hour.

            “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” – the whole trilogy, really, but that felt like cheating. I settled on the first third to rep for the whole by virtue of favorite bits like the Council of Elrond, the Balrog, and the valiant death of… um, a certain person towards the end. (On the off-chance you don’t know who, I refuse to be responsible for spoilers.)

            “National Treasure” – history! Adventure! A certain actor who both plays an awesome antagonist and doesn’t get killed like he does at the end of “Fellowship”! (Who can ask for more?)

            “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” – mostly to do with the villain again (referring specifically to Victor, not Stryker, in case you wondered), but c’mon, I gotta give props to Hugh Jackman, too. (Because he’s Hugh Jackman, I explain.)

            …

            What, you expected the rest of the list? I told you I’d only give forty percent.

            One last time for the road, thank you, Ben and Ashley. And congrats to my nominee shortlist. Stay versatile, everyone!

“Type”

Have you noticed a pattern in the sort of people you’re attracted to? Do they tend to have short hair, or curly hair, or light-colored lashes? Are they usually artistic, or scholarly, or reckless daredevils? Would you generally rather that they be taller than you, or shorter than you, funny, or serious, or so overly serious that you can’t help but laugh? Ideals will infinitely vary; even individuals will probably change their minds about what they do and don’t like, over time. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a particularly dire question, and yet it’s one we’ve heard before and will doubtless hear again: “What’s your preferred general character or structure held in common by a number of people or things considered as a group or class?”

            …Or, as perhaps you’ve heard it more commonly asked, “What’s your Type?”

            Physically speaking, my tailor fits my Type pretty well; other examples included a previously-mentioned former Backstreet Boy (bonus points for his lovely singing voice, and extra bonus points for when his hair was long), and Aragorn as seen in the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy (bonus points for a having a sword and wearing a cape). But that’s just one type of Type to have – the “Eye Candy Type”, if you will. Suppose you strip away the physicality, and even the materiality, leaving only personality as revealed in the printed word? (I’d say a minstrel took over that last sentence, except it’s all rhyme and no rhythm; my minstrels, they would have me assure you, have better meter than that.)

            We’re talking now about your “Reader Type” – the sort of characters you’re drawn to, that you love to read about. When it comes to my reading, I’ve noticed some patterns there, too – for example, my infatuation with thieves. Charitable outlaws living it up in the forests of medieval England (referring, of course, to Robin Hood and his merry band), ex-convicts stealing their way to a Victorian gentleman’s lifestyle (looking at and loving you, Montmorency), sociopathic kings of criminals who ruthlessly manipulate their way to whatever goals they set (Tirzah Duncan’s Syawn fits the bill; he even plays dirty by trying to pander to my Eye Candy Type, the punk), whatever. If there’s clever thievery going on, my immediate interest level spikes.

            Actually, I’m attracted to cleverness in general; reading about idiots tends to frustrate me no end. And I don’t like reading about people who are just plain bad, unless of course they are supposed to be the villains, in which case I say, “Never mind, bring on the evil!” I like reading about characters who hang around with awesome friends, and share laughs with them, and stick by them in times of exciting crisis. (Naturally, they should stick by their friends in times of boring crisis, too, but I won’t necessarily want to read about it.) And if these characters happen to be handsome, singing swordsmen on the wrong side of the law, so much the better.

            Do an author’s Reader Types influence their Writer Types – that is, the sorts of characters they find themselves attracted to writing? To some degree, I think. If I don’t want to read about it, I don’t want to write it (although I will admit, writing idiots in small doses can be fun). I enjoy writing characters who are cleverer than me (or at least sneakier and quicker on the draw), and who always have time for witty quips with their pals during escapades, and very sinister villains, and I’ve got a handful of thieves (including my own Merry Men, huzzah!). I also spend a lot of time writing musicians – particularly minstrels, which just goes to show that the Reader Type/Writer Type influence goes both ways: Buzzwords like “minstrel”, “bard”, and “lute” send my immediate interest level through the roof since I’ve written “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”.

            And what of you, Ever On Word followers and guests? When it comes to reading – and, if you’re an author, writing – what’s your preferred general character or structure held in common by a number of people or things considered as a group or class? (If you want something to be doubtless heard again, sometimes you’ve gotta say it yourself. 😉 )