New Life Rising

Blossom

One of the loveliest things in the world is springtime blossom. It’s wonderful to watch a tree ravaged by winter slowly come back to life and show its beauty to the world.

Sometimes it doesn’t look like a tree will ever blossom. But have you ever heard this quote?

“My, my, what beautiful blossoms we have this year – but look, this one’s late. But I’ll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all.”

For me, a tree in blossom symbolises hope and the promise of new life. What does it mean to you?

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Islanders

Imaginary

I have lived in my imagination since I was five years old. That was when I was given a notepad; each page had lines for a story and space above for a picture.

If this was Inside Out, that would have been when Story Island was created. There have been other Islands, but Story Island hasn’t gone anywhere and I hope it never will.

People live on Story Island, people I know as well as I do myself. Some of them don’t even come from my own imagination – they just like to visit now and again. The Islanders are always prepared for new arrivals.

There’s Isabel Monray, defrosting ice queen and the last blood member of the Monray family. Zara Vavasor, Rhena de Havilland, Nikita Orovna and Fancy Mylar, who keep on doing crazy things but can’t seem to settle into a story of their own (yet). There’s Emilia (Milly) Costello, who is patiently for her story to develop. And there are the other Islanders – Lia Whyteleafe, Marsella Layden, Diane and the Lions, Vipsania – who all have their own stories and worlds.

Story Island is going to keep on growing, and there’s so much there to be discovered.

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Soaring away

Unmoored

Close your eyes and listen.

Do you feel like you’re flying?

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Compassion vs power

Better

I’ve been working on the Day Project for over a year now. It’s strange how much you think you’ve written, how much effort you can put into editing, only to compile everything and read it through and then see that you don’t seem to have done very much at all.

The total chapter count so far is seventeen. I decided one of the chapters was a little too short, so I took a scene and inserted it into the previous chapter. It seems to work.

Writing suggestions and tutorials on YouTube are proving to be helpful and interesting.

I read Landry Park, a duology by Bethany Hagen. It’s got quite a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads, but I enjoyed reading both books despite that. I’ve come to realise that not everyone sees characters the same way (mentioned in an earlier post, I think) and it’s important not to let someone else’s negative opinion change your positive one. Don’t let an unfavourable review spoil your enjoyment of the book. Unless it’s the Fifty Shades and the This Man trilogies, in which case please do because those books need to die.

Another duology I enjoyed but not a lot of others seemed to (if the reviews on Goodreads were anything to go by) was the last two books of The Selection. It’s set in a future version of America, now known as Illéa, which is now ruled by a monarchy descended from Gregory Illéa. The Selection is a competition: thirty-five girls enter, but only one can marry the prince. The original trilogy was about America Singer; the spinoff is about her daughter Eadlyn, who will be the first ruling queen of Illéa and the first princess to have a Selection of her own. I’m not saying her story is better than her mother’s, but I did enjoy it more because Eadlyn underwent serious character development. She starts out as an arrogant, spoiled girl (appropriate) and ends as a mature, responsible queen. But at the beginning and end of her story, it is made clear that nobody is as powerful as her.

Madeline Landry is the sole heir to Landry Park; like Eadlyn, she is being groomed by her parents (or to be more precise, her dad) to take on leadership responsibilities. Like Eadlyn, Madeline is put under pressure to marry. Unlike Eadlyn, Madeline is reluctant to carry out the duties she’s going to inherit. She wants to go to university and have an education that extends beyond her responsibilities to the estate. She starts out quite gentle, but she has an inner strength that is gradually brought out. She is a lot stronger than even she seems to know. Madeline’s true strength is her compassion.

Both girls are born to be leaders. But which is better: to lead with strength or to lead with love?

Eadlyn and Madeline end up doing both.

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Ash Lockwood And The Problems Of Love Interests

When writing for a specific type of genre, it’s important to read books from the genre itself. That way, you can decide for yourself what you like or don’t like about that genre. Since Isabel’s story (which STILL doesn’t have a title yet) is going to firmly belong in the YA category, I read quite a few YA books to get a feel for the audience and what they like or don’t like. Of course, it’s not just young adults who read YA books.

One of the trilogies I read is called The Lone City, by Amy Ewing. The heroine, Violet, is bought by the Duchess of the Lake as a surrogate. Her purpose will be to bear the Duchess’ child (or daughter, since the Duchess already has a son) and basically to be a pet. A pampered, well-dressed, beautiful pet whose fate is to provide a royal house with heirs – that is, if another royal house doesn’t kill her first, since royal women cannot bear their own children and the best way to ensure a house doesn’t have heirs is to kill the surrogates providing them.

One day, Violet meets Ash Lockwood, a newly-acquired companion to Carnelian, the Duchess’ niece. There is no nice way to say this. Ash is a sex slave. He, along with other young and handsome men, are trained to be pleasing to royal daughters – or, although this is never publicly acknowledged, their mothers. Ash became a companion because his sister caught black lung and the money Ash earned was intended to go towards her medicine (emphasis on intended). This is a horrible situation to be in, and it’s a very sympathetic background. The problem is that while his background is sympathetic, I didn’t find Ash himself very sympathetic.

When he first meets Violet, he mistakes her for Carnelian. As soon as he finds out she isn’t, his entire attitude changes. She is immediately smitten with him – but then, there’s a difference between falling in love with someone at first sight and being attracted to someone at first sight. When reading a book, it can be quite hard to tell the difference.

A hundred or so pages later, they are officially ‘in love’.

The real problems with Ash begin in the second book of the trilogy. Lucien, a male lady-in-waiting, has a deep disdain for companions and makes it clear in the first book that if Ash causes problems, he can make him disappear. Yeah. That kind of disappearing. Lucien has a plan to smuggle Violet out of the Jewel, the royal circle titular lone city. Remember how royal women can’t have their own children? Turns out surrogates can’t bear royal children either. Childbirth kills them. When Lucien gives Violet a serum that will make her look as if she’s died, she gives it to her best friend instead. Meanwhile Carnelian has fallen in love with Ash herself and she’s figured out that Ash and Violet are together. Ironically, she’s the one character in The Lone City I feel deeply, deeply sorry for, but we’ll get to her another time. Ash and Violet are arrested, and the Duchess spreads a very ugly rumour about Ash that Lucien immediately believes. One of his serious prejudices against companions is that their job involves sleeping with a lot of women.

“And you think I enjoy it? Or are you just jealous that I can?”

For the record, male ladies-in-waiting are castrated so they aren’t ‘dangerous’ to royal women. And Ash is aware of this.

Another problem happens when they’ve made it out of the Jewel. Ewing must have realised that Ash had no purpose other than to be the love interest. He’d become The Load and she tried too hard to give him a purpose. Unfortunately, his efforts to help came across as selfish rather than selfless. A love interest needs to have a bigger role in the story than…well, the love interest.

Lucien and Sil, a former surrogate who becomes a mentor to Violet, point out that Ash is a distraction for Violet. She shrugs this off, but the trouble is, they’re right. Ash does cloud Violet’s judgement. He is a distraction, and we are supposed to agree with Violet instead of Sil and Lucien.

Also, it is a little hypocritical of Ash to refer to working girls as ‘common prostitutes’ when the only differences between them are that he’s male and his clients are rich.

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Identity

I love to read.

I love to write.

I value my own opinion.

I like to hear what others think.

I want to be good.

I have a rebellious streak.

I like to stay safe.

I can be reckless.

I am grateful for what I have.

I want more for myself sometimes.

I know I have to be responsible.

I want to be free.

I am human.

I am a woman.

I am myself.

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Leader, Brawn, Brain, Heart

Purple

When I was younger, I was fascinated by – and a little frightened of – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Don’t laugh.

Watching episodes of the 1987 cartoon in French certainly helped the fascination part. But then I learned more about them, their names, their personalities and how they function as a team and a family.

They’ve all got their individual roles. Leo’s the leader, Raph’s the brawn, Don’s the brain…and Mikey? Mikey’s the heart. He’s not just the ‘funny guy’ – come to think of it, he’s not the only comic relief character who falls under that category (Stiles Stilinski, we’re looking at you).

But my favourite’s got to be Don, the purple-wearing turtle. Like Mikey, he’s got more depth to him than the ‘clever one’. The most (in)famous episode of the 2003 cartoon has an episode that has him transported to an alternate universe in which he suddenly disappeared and the Shredder took over the world. Imagine ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, only infinitely, infinitely worse.

It happened because Don wasn’t there.

He’s not just the most intelligent of the Turtles. He’s also the least combative and the least violent (at least, in the incarnations I’m most familiar with).

Maybe that’s why I like him so much.

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