Friday, December 8, 2017

The Downton Abbey Exhibition

Everyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I am a hardcore Downton Abbey fan. So when I heard that there was a Downton Abbey limited time exhibition going on at 218 W. 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, I bought tickets and dragged my mother and a friend to the city. 

I'm not sure what that building was originally, because it's not a museum, but it was more than adequate to house this exhbition, which is only in New York City until the end of January, I think. It features original set pieces, costumes, and props from the show with some historical context to guide you along the way.

We walked into a very busy lobby area, our e-tickets were scanned, and we were ushered into a small introduction room with a video introduction by a beloved Downton character. The first floor was about the servant characters.

The kitchen set!!

The servants' hall set with the bell board!


More servant's hall


There were objects and props from the show which the servant characters would have handled. Each room had an explanation of what would have gone in that room--the kitchen being the busiest place in the house, the butler's pantry and what tasks Carson was doing in there.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG December


It's December, the last IWSG post of 2017! Check out the group here.

For the past few weeks, I've been working on a writing project only a few people know about. I haven't blogged about it. I don't mean to be cryptic or secretive, but I'm also kind of afraid that if I talk about the project--which I'm outlining--and then it falls apart, then I have to explain that it's fallen apart or is on hold, as a few of my projects in the last few years are. On hold, that is.

And I don't want to do that because I want to see this idea through and I want it to work and come together. I want to finish it and see it published in whatever way it'll be published.

I'm outlining because when I pants a story, it always falls apart in the middle--I get stuck and I freeze. Part of that is lack of plotting skill and a great deal of it is anxiety, I think.

I'm also outlining because this idea is a series idea--it's romance, so the main characters are different for each story, but they share a general world and they interact and intersect every so often, so I want all of that to be coordinated before I actually write any of these stories.

And so far, it seems to be working out--this outlining thing. It's a fairly detailed outline, maybe more of a sketch because I have dialogue and some emotions and things, but the scenes aren't completely written. The greatest thing is that if I want to add to a scene or move a scene, I can simply cut and paste a hundred or so words into a new spot instead of cutting into pages and pages of writing.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Story Beats

It's no secret that I have problems plotting a novel out. I attributed this to being the kind of writer who usually thinks in characters rather than story events.

Well, frankly, I'm tired of stalling on my projects/being a slow writer/not getting how to plot/or how to pace out a plot.

I mean, it's weird. I recognize a plot when I'm reading. I can see the steps the story takes as the tension builds toward the climax. I've just always had a hard time replicating your basic plotting pyramid thing in a longer piece of writing (over 30, 000 words). I'm horrible at mathematics and I'm not strategically-brained; to some extent, plotting a novel and pacing it well is organization, applying a formula, a pattern, strategizing how and where things will happen.

For some reason, I feel like I flail around a lot while trying to plot.

Plot: definiton: the events that happen in your story.

First of all, I don't think the plotting pyramid is accurate. You know the one. You've seen it in high school English class:
Freytag's Dramatic Structure
If the climax happens in the middle of the novel, what am I reading the back half of the book for?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Winter's Siren: Author Krystal Jane Ruin on her new book

The last novel I finished reading was my writing friend Krystal Jane Ruin's second novel Winter's Siren.

Upholding blog tradition, I bugged Krystal this weekend with some questions about her book and she was gracious enough to answer them!

Winter's Siren was released on November 1, 2017, and is currently enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.


In Fairy Tales, The Monsters Are Always Slain...


For the last five years, Fawn has been the star soprano of a secluded opera house, forced to sing for her kidnapper.

His daughter, Devi, waits patiently in the shadows, hiding a face so horrible that no one who’s seen it will look at it again.

As Fawn plots her escape, whispers spread through the shaded corridors of dark sorcery, warning her that she must flee by the next opening night.

But when Fawn draws close to the exit, it’s Devi who’s standing in her way, leading Fawn to suspect that Devi has something to gain if she fails.

(a dark reimagining of Swan Lake)

Now available at Amazon!

Sunflower: Winter's Siren is a retelling of Swan Lake. What made you want to retell Swan Lake in this dark fairytale style?

Krystal: I'd been dying to do something in a fairytale stye and had been trying for a couple of years. But I didn't think about retelling Swan Lake specifically until I saw the ballet for the second time after seeing the movie Black Swan. I just thought, "I HAVE to do something with this." The story is so mystical and fascinating, and the movie helped me see that I wasn't giving myself enough freedom in my other retelling ideas. Those had all fallen apart because I kept being too literal, and that just wasn't working for my brain.

Winter's Siren is really different compared to your first book--not only in subject matter and tone, but with two first person POVs! I thought it was really effective in showing the reader what was going on as the story flowed, but also in tugging at the reader as to who they were rooting for. Did that POV come about from the beginning?


Thank you! It did actually! I'm not sure I ever thought about telling it from a single POV. I hadn't done dual first person in a very long time, but I couldn't see this story any other way. They were both talking and poking at me, so I had to go with it.

Poor, poor, poor Devi, born with that cursed face. And poor Fawn, too, kidnapped and taken to this remote and creepy but magical opera house. Did both of the girls come to you fully formed or develop as the process went on? Is one an antagonist in your view or are they both (I think) equally protagonists and antagonists?


Excellent! ^_^ Neither one of them showed me too many layers until I got in their heads. I wrote the first chapter and part of the second chapter several months before I actually sat down to write the story. By then, I knew them pretty well. I'm definitely on the side of them being equals. Even from early on. :) 

There were elements in this book that totally reminded of Phantom of the Opera (I know you're a fan) and even of Wicked. This isn't really a question lol 

I know right! That was totally accidental, but also totally unsurprising. I'm crazy obsessed with The Phantom, and I love the music to Wicked so much I rewrote a large portion of the plot in my head. Haha. I didn't notice the Wicked aspects until you said something. But I did notice the Phantom elements pretty early on. 

The cover is amazing! You said on your blog that you went through a few concepts, right? How did you settle on this one?

Yep! The other cover ideas matched my personal style more, and would also match my other book more, but as soon as I saw this one, I had to have it. The first concept was darker overall and had these gorgeous teals. It was also really good, because my designer is the best, but I just felt like I couldn't live without this one. I literally thought, "I must have that or I'll die!" LOL! And like you pointed out, the tone is so different, so I figured the cover could also be vastly different than what I would normally go for. 

Thank you to Krystal for answering my questions! 

Krystal Jane Ruin is the author supernatural & paranormal fiction and a rabid fan of hourglasses, daggers, and all things Titanic. You can find her on her YouTube channel or on her blog, The Narcissistic Rose. 





Thursday, November 9, 2017

30 Books Read!

Whoops. I got all caught up in the novel I'm currently reading--Winter's Siren by Krystal Jane Ruin-- that I finished book 30 and forgot to document it on ze blog.

Also, one other book-related thing: the first time my name is printed in a paperback, y'all. I bought the Full Dark paperback on Amazon and it arrived on Wednesday.



And now, on with the reading challenge: 30 down, 5 to go.



21. Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History by Rozina Visram. Nonfiction/History/Indian history/British history. 3 stars.






24. Pursue the Unknown End (The Antiquities Series #2) by Emily Steers. Fiction/Mystery/Adventure/Action/Contemporary/American/Boston. 5 stars.






27. Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Twentieth Century/Seattle. 3 stars.