Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let Not the Crown Fall

     Sunshine and pearls

     As a girl, I was obsessed with princesses. Or rather, I suppose, I was obsessed with adventure, and being a princess seemed a perfect way to find a good one. Disney was my main supplier for princess-consumption, although I also rented The Swan Princess every time we went to Blockbuster. Some of my earliest memories are watching Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty under a fort in the living room, while inspired by a Pocahontas nightgown I owned, I would spread pillows on the floor and jump from one to the other, re-enacting the moment John Smith first lays eyes on the chief's daughter. I loved the gorgeous dresses and beautiful music, but even more than that I loved the stories that surrounded these princesses. Princess stories had all that I wanted: Adventure! Romance! Death! Excitement! Villains! Happy Endings! Dramatic Musical Numbers! BIG GLORIOUS BALLGOWNS!

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To me, princesses symbolize femininity, elegance, wisdom, strength, and responsibility.
     But as I grew older, I noticed that not everyone had this same love that I did. Today books with titles like "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" or commercials for popular cartoons disdaining the "princess mentality" show a growing number of people who find the idea of women being princesses weak or demeaning, and claim that all this mindset does is sexualize young girls. (Personally, I wonder how being royal sexualizes someone, but maybe that's just me) Is there sexualization and "diva-fication" of girls going on? Of course. But that's not necessarily connected to princesses. To be a princess in the truest sense of the word is to be another thing entirely. In fact, I think to be a princess is to be gracious, strong, wise, and kind but firm.To people who say that the "princess-obsession" most little girls go through is harmful, sexist, and problematic, I have one thing to say:

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Actually, I would probably word my opinion on the subject a little more strongly, but, you know, have courage and be kind.

     Perhaps this comes from being a history major. Surrounded by stories of princesses (many who became queens) there is a slew of role models to found among the ranks of real-life princesses. These were women who oftentimes were sorts of ambassadors after marriage, representing a link to their home country while living in the land of their husband. These were women who served as intercessors for the people, who could sway the opinions of their king, and beg for mercy on behalf of their subjects. These were women who became queens and co-ruled with their husbands, or in some cases ruled without one. A queen could make or break her country. So, perhaps that's why it offends me so much when I hear people lumping all princesses together in disdain, as if they all represent some materialistic, "let-them-eat-cake" attitude. Not all princesses are like that, I assure you. And having just written a final research paper on medieval Scandinavian queens, I think I'll tell you about a couple of them....

     ...like Margaret I of Denmark. Daughter of one king and wife of another, after her husband's death she united the kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden (and by extension Iceland, Greenland, and Finland) into the Kalmar Union. And ruled, uncontestedly, until her death.

     Then there was Philippa of England, daughter of Henry IV and sister of Henry V (yes, those Shakespearean Henrys) who married a Kalmar King. In her husband's absence she defended Copenhagen from the Hanseatic League. Hans Christian Andersen even wrote about her in his Godfather's Picture Book:

"The Hanseatic merchants came," continued Godfather, "from warehouse and counter, the rich traders of Rostock, Lübeck, and Bremen. They wanted to seize more than the golden goose from Valdemar's Tower; they had more power in the town of the Danish King than the Danish King himself. They came in armed ships, and no one was prepared. And King Eric had no desire to fight with his German kinsfolk; they were too many and too strong. So King Eric and all his courtiers escaped through the west port to the town of Sorö, to the quiet lake and green forests, to the song of love and the clang of goblets.
"But there was one left behind in Copenhagen, a kingly heart and a kingly mind. Do you see this picture here, this young woman, so fine and tender, with sea-blue eyes and yellow hair? It is the Queen of Denmark, Philippa, the English princess. She stayed in the distracted city, where the townspeople swarmed in panic in the narrow lanes and streets with steep stairs, sheds, and shops of lath and plaster. With the courage of a man, she summoned townspeople and peasants, to inspire and encourage them. They fitted out the ships and garrisoned the blockhouses; they fired with their carbines; there were fire and smoke and lightness of spirit - our Lord will never forsake Denmark! The sun shone into all hearts, and in all eyes was the bright gladness of victory. Blessed be Philippa! Blessed she was in hut and in house; and blessed she was in the King's castle, where she nursed the wounded and the sick. I have clipped a wreath and laid it around this picture," said Godfather. "Blessed be Queen Philippa!"

     I don't know, if my future daughter wanted Queen Philippa as a role model, I wouldn't complain. And that's not to mention other princesses, too: Elizabeth I, Nefertiti, Kaiulani, Victoria. One of the most fascinating facts I learned in my Modern Britain class this semester was that during World War Two, Queen Elizabeth II (then princess, of course) served as a driver and mechanic! It's not that these princesses are perfect role models. They could be difficult and make bad choices. But there is such variety in their lives and responsibilities. These were women with the world on their shoulders, not women who sat around doing nothing but looking pretty.

An Armenian crown used during wedding ceremonies when the bride and groom are traditionally crowned as a "king and queen.":

     But what about Disney? Aren't those what girls think of when they want princesses things? Probably. But I never found most Disney princesses problematic. Cinderella gets a terribly bad and unfair reputation, but I don't think you'll find kinder, more Christian-like character in animation. Despite a few hiccups in the Disney canon (*ahem* Ariel's rebelliousness) most Disney princesses do show kindness, work ethic, self-sacrifice, and intelligence. And there is nothing wrong with dressing up in ballgowns and tiaras, so long as we also, like Snow White, know how to whistle while we work with our aprons and dishrags.There is nothing wrong, I'll also say, in being saved by a prince--for isn't that an allegory for the Greatest story of all, the Story of our own Prince saving us from certain death?

     I can't help but think that like the princesses of old, we are also ambassadors, sent by our Father, the King, to this earth to share the message of our True Home. So when we think of princesses, let us be reminded of that. We, too, have a duty. Let us fulfill it!

(also, apparently I was suddenly impassioned to write this post during #princessweek. I didn't even know that was a thing until today.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Writer's Tag

books.quenalbertini: Attractive publishers cloth bindings with gilt detailing late 1840’s early 1850’s:

(I shamelessly stole this tag from Cait. Wahaha. I always knew I'd make a good thief. After all, my first movie crush at the age of five was on Aladdin's dad in Aladdin and the King of Thieves not to mention Han Solo and Robin Hood and Flynn Rider so maybe it's just fate. But then again I'm pretty sure she offered the tag to anyone who wanted it, so I guess it wasn't very scoundrel-y of me after all.)

1. WHAT GENRES, STYLES, AND TOPICS DO YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Genres:

     I can't say I'm overly fond of sticking to one genre, but generally I go historical. I can't help it. But I really like sci-fi and one day I hope to write a bunch of classic-style adventure stories in all their melodramatic, swashbuckling glory. Think Captain Blood, John Carter, or Zorro. (Or Robin Hood, of course)

Styles:

     ALWAYS past tense, except for one tiny bit in The Wulver's Rose which was (gasp!) in the present tense. I generally don't like anything else. I alternate between third person and first person depending on the book, because they can be used for such different effects. And I do love multiple, large-cast POVs.

     I also feel like I need to warn you I have the Victorian penchant for really long sentences that would make Dickens proud.

Topics:

logical and bookish ladies
moral and admirable gentlemen
lots of dancing
also sword-fighting/pistol-dueling/knife-stabbing/poison-drinking
thieves (SEE)
other aspects of Victorian crime
period-correct ideology (hey, at least I try)
fairy tales
close family (especially sibling) relationships

     I know that these are generally more surface topics and probably aren't entirely what the question is asking, but I don't see myself as a topical writer, so I didn't know any other way to answer it.

2. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?

     I have it on good authority that I wrote "A Cat Called Love" when I was 3ish.

3. WHY DO YOU WRITE?

     I could go with something profound, but as I've gotten older I'm acutely aware of the one thing that keeps me writing: I'm in charge of my stories, and I won't mess them up. I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but I've been disappointed so many times with book and TV series that have ruined themselves, either through gross out-of-character lapses, shoe-horned-in political statements, or an inclusion of "okay" immorality. Sometimes, the culprit is just a really stupid and misguided plot. But guess what? I never have to worry about scriptwriters ruining my stories or characters in the third season! Isn't that fabulous? Other people can't mess up your favorite stories if you write them yourself!

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4. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO WRITE?

     In the mid-morning after I've gotten ready for the day, which is really inconvenient since I get all of my best ideas while I'm snuggled up in bed at midnight.

5. PARTS OF WRITING YOU LOVE VS PARTS YOU HATE?

Love:

     The outlining, the planning, the naming--the time when the plot is coming together and it's beautiful.

     Writing a paragraph that flows beautifully and realizing that it's actually a piece of good writing and no, it's not just my imagination! (This is rare but it's lovely when it happens)

     Writing finis at the end and looking back with satisfaction that, first draft or not, I finished a novel!


Image result for proud of myself gif

Hate:

     Okay, do you know that feeling where you suddenly just don't like anything fictional and find it unsatisfying? I don't know if I'm describing this well, but in every story I hit a point where I just don't care about anything or anyone in it. It seems dull and lifeless and pointless, and I get depressed and in a funk and don't feel like reading any other books or watching any other movies, either. It's terrible while it lasts (which thankfully isn't for long) but it generally happens at some point with (most) every book I write.

     Also, this usually happens during the first, second, third, and all other subsequent rounds of editing, so maybe that has something to do with it.

     The overwhelming and oppressive jolts of self-doubt are also a downer.

6. HOW DO YOU OVERCOME WRITERS BLOCK?

     I take a walk and watch a movie or a TV show. If chocolate is in the house, I usually sneak some of that, too. (see, thief)

Image result for stealing chocolate gif

     To be honest, writer's block is usually a sign that I've just been working too long and fried my brain-- that is, it's a clue I need to take a writing break.

7. ARE YOU WORKING ON SOMETHING AT THE MOMENT?

     "So are you writing anything right now?"

     I get that question a lot, and my answer is the same every time:

     "I'm always writing something."

8. WRITING GOALS THIS YEAR?

1. Finish January Snow and my Little Mermaid retelling (both of which are novellas)
2. Work on my poor neglected historical novel, Grande Complications (formerly titled Philippa, if you've stuck long around this blog)
3. Begin the first draft of my next piece of historical fiction, which I'm attempting to write in the style of an actual Victorian novel (what am I doing someone stop me)
4. I also want to at least attempt a classic-style adventure story, but we'll see how that goes.

     And there I end the writing tag! I know that this blog has been filled with a lot of tags, but now that school is almost over for the summer I should have more time to actually write posts! Then again, with all of those writing goals, you might be lucky if I have the time to just post a cat video.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Now Available!

     It's here! With Blossoms Gold is now up here on Createspace, and it should go through and be on Amazon within a day or two.


Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Things I Thought I'd Love (But Didn't)

The Novels of the Brontë Sisters

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In which you can totally see that Branwell painted himself out of the picture, which I completely understand. I've done the same thing.
     After I was introduced to Jane Austen’s novels, Charlotte Brontë’s works seemed the next logical step. But the fact remains that even if I can appreciate some things about books like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights or Agnes Grey, the Brontës and I aren’t exactly kindred spirits. They tend to irritate me. That being said, I did (sort of) enjoy reading Villette for class this semester, so...I guess they get better on multiple readings? I don't think I'll ever love them, but I can at least admit that some of their writing is very good.

This raspberry and rosewater truffle from Godiva.

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I thought the rosewater flavor sounded so elegant and refined.

No. It tastes like perfume. One of the grossest things I have ever put into my mouth.

Don’t do it.

The Emily of New Moon Series


     I have always loved Anne of Green Gables, and L.M. Montgomery continues to be a favorite author. I thought I’d love these books, given that they are about a writer. But…I don’t. Even if Emily and I share some very distinct personality traits, I find her annoying. Even more annoying is the love story. I WANTED TO PULL OUT MY HAIR. I just…don’t like Emily. AND IT ANNOYS ME THAT I DON’T.

But what can ya do. :/

Ever After

So many pretty clothes in this movie, though.
     I have a vague (but perhaps false) memory of watching this movie at a young age. However, I didn’t rediscover it until later in my late teens, and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t thought to watch it earlier. I mean, fairy tales + Renaissance? Why on earth hadn’t I watched it before? Excited that there was a movie I was sure would become one of my new favorites, I watched it…and felt very much let down. I didn’t hate it exactly, I just felt indifferent to it. And the ending kind of ruined it for me, more of a “haha the stepmother gets it” rather than the forgiveness that I think, quite frankly, makes the new Disney version of Cinderella better. Ever After might be the more serious, realistic movie of the two, but it makes the core of the story lose its impact. Not that the movie is entirely bad (I mean, the scene where Danielle picks up the prince makes me laugh, after all. And the scenery and “feel” of the movie was one that helped inspire With Blossoms Gold) but it’s not one I feel the need to re-watch.  Definitely “meh” for me. I would be more specific with my complaints, but it’s been a few years now since I watched it. I just remember being disappointed.

Sleepless in Seattle


     I am not one for chick flicks, to be honest. I’ve only seen a few, and I’ve liked even fewer. One of those in the latter category is You’ve Got Mail. Since I enjoy that one so much, I thought I’d like Sleepless in Seattle, too. Everyone always lumps those two movies together and I just assumed if I liked one, I’d like the other.

Nope.

     Other than the fact it had a lot more content issues than You’ve Got Mail did, I just…didn’t enjoy the story line? The two leads barely interact, and I felt like I was waiting the entire movie for the “good part” of the film that never arrived. Really the only positive thing I can say about it that it’s the only movie I’ve seen Meg Ryan in where I like her hair. I get serious hair envy over that French braid of hers. Why couldn't her hair have looked like that in Kate and Leopold?

Anyway, life is full of disappointments, and thankfully these were generally pretty frivolous ones. Anything you thought you'd love but ended up...not liking?

(Also, hopefully I will have a post of things I thought I'd hate, but didn't. That should be more uplifting, true?)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Winners!

The giveaway is over, and our winners are:

Emily Smith
Ekaterina Yodis

Congrats! You'll be receiving emails from me shortly!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

With Blossoms Gold Giveaway!

   
     It's almost time for With Blossoms Gold to bloom in paperback!  Originally I had planned to release this book on the 2nd (That is, today) but there's been a slight delay. It shouldn't be a long one by any means (maybe a week or so) but to make it up to you, I'll be giving away TWO paperback copies of With Blossoms Gold, to be sent as soon as they are available.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!
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