Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cinderella & More Cool Things About the Victorian Era

I saw the new live-action Disney Cinderella on St. Patrick's Day. Cinderella is not my favorite Disney princess (that's Belle), but I essentially dragged my friends to see the movie because of this guy:

From Lily James' Instagram 

Anyway.... (as I told my friend Jess, if there are random Scottish men floating around in the Victorian half of the Vic and Nic story, it'll be because of the combo of Richard Madden and Outlander)

It was an adorable movie, very funny at times, and I was in the mood for something simple and sweet and romantic and gushy, so it was perfect for that. Could it have gone further in the modernizing, to make Cinderella even stronger? Maybe. I'm sure it could have. But I was happy to see something that wasn't cynical.

Cynicism gets tiring, you know? And while I don't think girls have to be--or should be--all kindness and lightness and politeness, there is a lot to be said for just being kind to people.

My friend Jess coveted the stepmother's outfits. (They were amazing!) And Nali emailed us this, which relates to the Victorian half of my novel, sort of. It's in the Moving Image archive, one of the very first filmed versions of Cinderella: Cendrillon by Georges Melies. It's from 1899, just two years before Queen Victoria died, and I'm kind of imagining how my Victoria would react.

It's only 5 minutes, 41 seconds long. Check it out.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Guest Blogger: Michelle Tran

In answer to the basic question, "How did you get into writing?" Michelle Tran wrote:

Locked in a bedroom of white walls with a tiny brown-spotted dog standing guard beside me, I surrounded myself with library books that smelled oddly of unwashed jeans, adventures, and dreams. Page after page I turned, fighting to drown out the sound of reality just outside my door.

Reality for thirteen-year-old me sounded an awful lot like my mother’s muffled cries, and my father’s deep voice, shaking the foundation of our home. And yet, as the days, weeks, and months went on, I, too, read on.

There was no ‘thing’ or ‘aha moment’ that got me into writing. Rather, it was this period of time in my life that planted and nurtured my love of words. This tough moment in my childhood led me to books, and unregretfully I was hooked on them, devouring all I could like a drug, relishing in that temporary high that could always be fixed with another.

Yet in all the books I consumed, I struggled to understand what was happening outside my door. I had this vain hope that the answers were bound in these precious books. But when no truth could be found, I refused to give up. So I started to write. And write and write I did, creating my own answer, my own explanation of why this horrible thing could be happening under our roof.

As writers, I think we try to take things that are inexplicable and try to make sense out of them. It’s like trying to remember all the details of a dream and painting it onto a canvas, giving it a whole new meaning. At least, that’s what it was like for me at thirteen.

At the time, domestic violence was a foreign concept to me. All I knew was, I wanted it to be over. Whatever that meant. And maybe if I could make sense of it, I could find a solution then we would all finally be free.

To my dismay, it only started an unquenchable thirst for stories. Suddenly I had to know about my mother, my father, their individual stories that led them to this moment, the changes they had undergone, and where their decisions would lead them. Instantly I had zapped them into characters and life as we knew it became some sort of book, penned by an unknown author.

It didn’t stop with my parents. As I grew up, the people I encountered were no exception. How honored I felt when someone would share their own anecdotes with me. There was no better gift than hearing tales that were entrusted to me. I finally came to the realization that the world was filled with stories. Imagined and real. You just had to listen for them.

And listened I did when my own characters popped into my own mind, sharing stories of their own. Alas! Through the windy, twisty road we call life, I had unknowingly fallen for the craft. I could not resist preserving those stories.

To this day, I’m still unable to resist the siren’s call of a good story. You’ll find me reading, journaling, and writing, probably until you have to pry said object out of my hands.

One day, I hope a story of mine will be bounded into a book. And perhaps, just maybe, a young child in the confines of their room will find some escape, solace, or answer of their own between the pages.

Michelle Tran is a blogger, poet, and an aspiring YA writer.

Friday, March 13, 2015

An Interview With Krystal Jane!

Today, we are beginning what I hope will become a new bimonthly or tri-monthly feature on The Sunflower's Scribbles: guest posts and interviews with writers, authors, passionate readers, editors...

To inaugurate this, I interviewed Krystal Jane, a prolific fantasy/supernatural writer from Tennessee. She is a frequent commenter here and blogs about writing at The Narcissistic Rose. Her website Planet Krystal also features stories on getting into and out of debt--and haircare!

From Twelve Dancing Princesses
Here, Krystal tells us about how she began writing, why she loves fantasy so much, what her favorite fairytale is, and how she's currently revising a manuscript for a revise and resubmit.

When did you start writing? When did you realize you really liked writing? 

Hmm, lemme see…I remember writing picture books in elementary school, but I was 11 before I wrote anything with the intention of being able to call myself a writer one day. I always loved telling stories. Even before I could write, I was making up crazy stuff during lunchtime and telling my tales with all the dramatics of a soap star to my classmates. I never really realized it, I just kind of woke up one day and was like, “Oh, I really love this!”

Monday, March 9, 2015

Guest Posts, Cover Visions, and Harry Potter

This is my 600th blog post.

Credit: Tumblr


It occurred to me today--as I was typing up this post and reading back posts I wrote last year about the Keegans (I'm trying to figure out why some of this novella story, which I'm polishing up, is so whack-a-doodle, since I cut-and-pasted it out of the Keegans)--that after six years of blogging:

--I'm not exactly running out of things to write about, but as I'm writing two projects at once...I am sort of running out of topics I feel interested in enough to write about.

--That I would happily turn the blog over once a month or once every two or three months to a guest blogger, who could talk about their latest book or their latest writing project or why they started writing or what they do as an editor, a freelancer, or an agent. Maybe even why a particular book captured someone's imagination.

--I'd like to start with people I know. Being still an unpublished writer, I would be open to interview (or feature articles from) unpublished writers as well as published ones. It would be a cool way to "hear" other people's writing and publishing experiences. Or to have a fellow blogger maybe write something they wouldn't normally write on their own blog.

---I can't promise great promo for authors who are only into promo offers--this place does not have huge page views, but my readers are pretty dang loyal and they're into commenting and discussion.

Cover Visions 

Last week, I got off the bus at its last stop--my subway station--and as I was walking toward the subway entrance, iPod buds in my ears, I had this image pop into my head.

I saw two women; one of them was in Victorian clothes--big dress with a bustle and a hat, a hint of her dark hair peeking out; the other was in jeans and a top, her wavy brown hair loose to the middle of her back. Both of them have their back turned to us. One of them is on the left-center, the other on right-center.

And then I realized that these women were Victoria and Nicole, the protagonists of the new main writing project.

I never imagine covers. I'm not a very visual person, I guess, and anyway, covers are a publisher's problem. But since I've never imagined covers for any of my stories before, this struck me as something interesting.

Harry Potter

My mom told me yesterday that my cousin's older daughter, my 6-year-old "niece," ran up to her yesterday when they saw each other at my aunt's house. "Look at my new book!" She said. My mom looked. She was surprised that the little one is reading Harry Potter. Her parents, who aren't very big readers at all, are bemused.

Heh. The books I intend to give her as she grows up...

Friday, March 6, 2015


It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I'm not totally done with the world of The Keegans of Banner's Edge.

That is, while I'm done querying it, there are elements of the story that I still really like and may well go back to in the future.

I'm working on one of those elements right now. Pearl is a secondary character with a pretty hefty subplot in that story. She first appeared in the second draft, was my beta's favorite character, became my favorite character, and made an impression on other writing buddies.

Pearl begins as a slave--she's lady's maid to Mrs. Keegan, when the Keegans are living on a plantation in Barbados. When Mrs. Keegan dies suddenly, Pearl's future is in limbo. She fears she'll be sold. She hears a rumor that Mr. Keegan will return to his native England; Pearl has a desire to go to England, one that she has barely acknowledged. Ten years ago, her younger brother was sold to a British naval captain and Pearl wonders if Mr. Keegan will take her on as his girls' nanny in exchange for taking her to Britain. Once in Britain, Pearl--who has been freed and is now being paid for her work--begins to navigate a new country with her new freedom and works hard to nanny the girls and to find her brother.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG: Real Life Characters

Happy IWSG Day! The Insecure Writer's Support Group posts every first Wednesday of the month. Check out the group here. Our co-hosts for March are Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence! Thanks guys!

Once upon a time, I couldn't write an original character without that character being, basically, based on one of my friends. Book the First, in particular, is rife with characters who are not-very-loosely-at-all based on my closest friends.

Since then, I've stopped basing characters on people I know directly and actually invent characters, one of my favorite parts of the whole writing thing. My friends don't, for the most part, fit the things I'm writing now anyway and because I'd still like to have friends, I leave them alone.

But still, I'm a writer and one of my favorite writer sayings is Be Careful, You Might End Up in My Novel. Writers take from real life and insert things into their work. It's the way it is, peeps. And sometimes--not often, but once in a blue moon--I get insecure about how close a character is to me or to someone I know or if the character is good or bad or interesting or dead boring.

In my new project, in the modern day portion, there is a character who vacuums his outdoor patio. Anybody who knows me knows that I have a neighbor who vacuums his little backyard--yep, outdoors--and it's annoying. It's too weird not to use in fiction, right?

I'm trying to decide why this character vacuums outdoors. He's gotta be OCD, for sure, or maybe he cleans to distract himself or he's one of those people who finds cleaning to be relaxing? I'm not really sure--so I'm a little insecure about the reasoning I gave to this character as to why he does this.

So, what kind of little real life bits have you inserted into your projects? Do you feel insecure about your characters sometimes?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Downton Abbey Season 6 Predictions & Wishes

Oh, come on--it's traditional on this blog to make my guesses and state my wishes for the next season of Downton Abbey. Season five has come to an end here in the States and so, I can make my predictions without too much fear of spoiling.

Needless to say, if you plan to watch Season 5 and haven't yet...better not read this post. Spoilers below.