Wednesday, September 23, 2015


They're the ruthless characters we love to gasp at, wonder what they'll do next, and if it will help or hinder the hero. Bring. It. On.

Long before I knew they were actually anti-heroes, I admired these spunky, obnoxious, slightly dark, self-serving characters. Movies especially make these characters alluring, funny, and real. 

Rumplestiltskin Once Upon A Time has done an amazing job of breathing new life into this traditional mischief-maker. We hate him. We love him. But we have to keep watching because who knows what side he'll be on next.

The Arrow In the first two seasons of the CW's Arrow, Stephen Amell played the perfect anti-hero. Who knew if he'd save your life or kick, you get the point. Damaged and slightly unhinged, we only knew we couldn't look away. (Especially when his shirt was off.)

Han Solo Seriously, what girl didn't love Han Solo? Selfish, disheveled, self-centered, and always concerned with what's in it for him, Somehow that didn't make him less attractive. (Really, Luke Skywalker is positively boring next to him.)

Shrek Until Shrek arrived on the scene with his tasteless jokes and questionable motives, I didn't know what true love was. Granted, eventually he becomes the hero we always wanted...but then he just turned back into a flatulant ogre, which is the way we like him anyway.

Snape I spent the first five books hating him only to discover that he's the dark hero of the entire flipping series. Well played, JK Rowling, well played. Harry never would have grown into his own powers without such a fierce protector behind him. (And we judged him on his preference for black and his greasy mop of hair. Tragic, really.)

Sherlock Oh yes, Sherlock Holmes is the ultimate anti-hero who gets in his own way as often as he gets in everyone else's. But why wouldn't we love an ultra-intelligent, handsome, fearless character? (Unless we have to share a flat with him. Poor, poor John. That ego can't be easy to live with.)

Wolverine He's one of my personal favorites. Hunky, moody, foul-mouthed, damaged, and ready for any fight that comes his way. At his core is a nugget of loyalty. He'd make an interesting boyfriend...

Loki The God of Mischief can't be anything but an anti-hero. Every action, whether noble or cowardly, is spurred by a self-serving motive. His admonition to Thor rings true in nearly every instance, Are you ever not going to fall for that?

Anti-heroes are after delightfully human (except Loki) and often more relatable than traditional heroes. I've yet to write an anti-hero into a book, but it's only a matter of time before I sneak one in. After all, my next project is Rumplestiltskin...

Who are your favorite anti-heroes? Leave me a comment, and as always, thanks for dropping in! (Feel free to throw some ladies in there...)

Like to read about more aspects of the writing process?
Give it Heart, New Life, New Breath
Tragically Flawed...Or Not
The Meet-Cute
Breaking the Rules
World Building for the Literary Challenged

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Welcome to the Big Time

There's nothing more fun than when you connect with someone and they say to you, Hey, I'd love to feature you on my blog. Are you interested? (Just a thought, my answer will always be OH YES!) In the last few months, I've been honored to be featured on several websites. I had such a good time, I thought I'd share it with you. Here's a recap of each and a link to the posts themselves. Enjoy!
Geek Girl: So, maybe you're a big nerd. Maybe you love things others consider super weird. It's all good. Just own it. I'm sixty types of silly and geeky and I find it makes me more interesting, and let's be honest, happy!
Writing, Health, & Wellness: As a writer and teacher, I struggle with a number of health issues. I spell them out and share how I cope regularly with what comes up with Colleen Story. Discover how I deal with everything from Writer's Block to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Lisette's Writers' Chateau: Fairytales are my life. I chat with Lisette Brodey about my obsession with them and how they've shaped my career. Also, we discuss upcoming projects, my writing and editing process, and dealing with The Writer's Suckfest. Plus, doesn't the chateau make one feel posh?
And coming soon...

Terry Tyler: Even wondered how your star sign affects your life/writing/career? Terry asked me to ponder how much of a Cancer I really am. Hey, maybe if you read it you'll come into a large sum of cash or meet a tall dark stranger...or get eaten by wild dogs. Who knows? You'll just have to read and find out! (BTW the link connects you to Terry's Zodiac files, which are hysterical.)

In closing, if you'd like to feature a certain sassy semi-redheaded fairytale writer, just contact me! I'd love to oblige. Leave me a comment, or use the buttons on the sidebar or under the Contact tab to reach out to me. I promise I don't bite.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Give it Heart, New Life, New Breath

I'm not talking Frankenstein here, but the good doctor may have been onto something.
“Fairytales, huh? Do you ever write your own stories?” a well-meaning friend once asked. I was stunned for a moment and wanted to ask if they'd take the knife out of my back first. Seriously? Is that what people thought I'd been doing for years? Had I only been repeating something that had already been said (probably by someone more skilled and popular than me)? Was my writing life so meaningless in their eyes? If that was the case, what was the point? 

I held the words inside, but I instantly became defensive. Is anything truly original? I wondered. In a world with countless movies, books, and everything on instant download, who's to say where inspiration originates. You might say anything we come up with a Frankenstein's monster fashioned from bits and pieces of our experiences. Which begs the question: If we can't make anything original, why should we try? 

Those of us who are acquainted with the drive to write understand that we must try. There's little choice in the matter. (And yes, if you call it a hobby, like it's something that we put down and pick up at will, we will have something to say on the subject.) Take it from me, muses neither knock politely nor wait to be let in.

If you're like me and you choose to remake something old--say, a fairytale--into something new, there are a few things I discovered while working on Becoming Beauty that you should consider: 

Make it your own. Modern, classic--whatever is your forte--spice up the original with your own style. Delve into research, freshen up the details, main characters, supporting cast, and setting, and add in new plot twists. All of this makes a story people have heard before into something new.

In Becoming Beauty, I gave Bella (an updated and very flawed Beauty) an interesting role in the family dynamic as well as later in the Beast's household. Then, to spice it up, I pulled the Beast's manservant Jack into the picture. I didn't set out to create a love triangle, but having the story revolve around Bella, the Beast, and Jack naturally pushed it in that way. And it works.

Make it live. Breathe new life into a known story with a new, true message. Weaving a story around a nugget of truth or a soul touching question lends it new breath and life. Fairytales especially need the depth of great messages to reach new audiences.

The message I chose for Becoming Beauty is a expansion on the original fairytale's moral on true beauty. Bella's search for beauty in herself, in her family, and in the Beast and in his world drives her journey. 

Don't be afraid of something that's been done. As a girl who loves fairytales so much she began to write her own, I'll tell you that it can be done. There is always more to be said on any subject. A new perspective. A fresh character to shake up the cast. A new explanation for how things came to pass as they did. Just do it beautifully and in your own way.

I fought with the idea behind Becoming Beauty for a long time. The idea of creating a beastly Beauty first presented itself when I was in college. Until I put my fears behind me and really let the idea play out, I couldn't see how it would work out. But I had faith in an arrogant, ambitious, entitled heroine to carry the day. And she has.

That's it! Make it your own, make it live, and don't be afraid of something that's been done, just do it beautifully. Good luck and happy writing! May you never have the pleasure of someone asking you if YOU write original stories, my dears.

Need more writerly advice? 
Dead, Dead, Deaded: on dealing with deadlines
The Waiting Game: tips on surviving submissions
Breaking the Rules: nothing is sacrosanct, learn how to do it
World Building for the Literary Challenged: build worlds like a pro
Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged: the importance of coverart
Butt In Chair: the best writerly advice ever

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Confessions of an Austen Addict

I fell into Jane Austen's novels when I was completing my college education. My high school English teacher introduced me to several classics, but for whatever reason, Austen wasn't among them. I still remember the massive volume my roommate brought with her. Three inches of book in an archaic language should have been daunting, but my roomie's passion was catching. I devoured them. These days I have my own thick volume as well as a respectable collection of DVDs. 
When my friend Raylynn Sleight recommended Jane Austen Ruined My Life and continued to rave about the series, I had to pick it up. Not only was the writing superb and the research behind it impressive, but the theme rang true. Emma, a woman whose entire world has been upturned by a cheating husband and a blight on her professional career, takes to England to follow the steps of her favorite author Jane Austen and do her best to clear her name and reclaim her life.

These days I never expect novels to rattle me to the core. So many books are badly written or are based on themes I can't relate to. A woman's story of self-discovery with a side of romance is a breath of fresh air.
“...These years, snug in our cottage have taught me that had I home and husband of my own, I should not have birthed my novels...My writing box and my little table by the window have been the happiest of endings. You, dearest sister, will know the truth of it, but others who know me less may not comprehend the truth of it.”
Jane Austen Ruined My Life, p 232

My own life choices, Bella's journey in Becoming Beauty, and the life Austen herself led converged on me and tears coursed down my cheeks as I read this section. I didn't expect that, just as I didn't expect Bella's journey to result in tears when I wrote it. My life, like Austen's, has been very quiet. Little romance has entered it. I lamented the fact in private until I realized that because of my quiet life, I have had the time to teach and write and come to know myself. That knowledge is perfectly precious to me.

Someday romance will enter my life again and the days of teaching and writing will have to shift around to accommodate them. But for now, I am grateful for writers who take me on meaningful journeys. Like Beth Patillo. And a certain Miss Jane Austen.

I'd love to know what you're reading! Leave me a comment. And if you need anything else to read...
Book Hangover
Miranual for Life
Letters to My Future Husband
Author, Ninja, Fangirl
Where Life Takes You
Pass The Pepper
Tragically Flawed or Not
Okay, it's official. I'm addicted to books. And romance.