Authors and Characters

I’ve just come back from watching “Saving Mr. Banks,” which is loosely based on the story behind Walt Disney essentially wooing P.L Travers into allowing him to make the movie, “Mary Poppins.”  While I did love the movie (and the actors), I couldn’t stop thinking about the situation from the author’s perspective.

1.  For the love of characters

Throughout the movie, “Saving Mr. Banks,” Mrs. Travers (as she prefers to be called) is a bit prickly about screen writers and Disney messing with her beloved characters, referring to her fictional creations at one point as “family.”  While the film extrapolates on her true meaning behind calling the characters “family,” I think a great many authors view their characters in a similar light.

I recently finished a rough draft of a novel (yay!),  which I enjoyed writing very much.  But upon completion of it, I was a little sad.  I had grown to really like my characters and their misadventures.  As I’m not the type to write series, this will be the only book with these fictional beings that I had so much fun creating.  Ugh, what will I do now?

Well, first I will edit and with that comes a can of worms that all authors who hope to be published must face at some point: sharing your work with others.  And <gasp>, being open to criticisms on our beloved characters.  People may view Mrs. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks” as being overly sensitive for her many objections in the creation of Disney gold, but I think that most authors (as we have sensitive souls) would feel similarly when seeing their creations at the hands of others.  And also gasping in disbelief when others imagine them in a way that we did not intend.  (Dammit, her hair is BROWN, not light brown!)

But the movie also taught a valuable lesson to the sensitive and somewhat protective author in me –  sometimes it is best to heed the advice of other people.  After all, while P.L. Travers was quite annoyed with many aspects of the Disney production of her books, the movie’s characters went on to become beloved legends for children and adults everywhere.  Not too shabby by anyone’s standards.

2. The urge to link an author or his/her life with their work

Ah, now this part makes me annoyed.  There is a tendency among readers to try to link the characters or plot of a book with the author’s life.  Many people assume that writers follow the old adage of “write what you know.”  So therefore, most works are semi-autobiographical, right?

<Groan>  No.  While there are many authors who have characters inspired by real people or plot lines that they’ve actually lived through, the majority of fiction novels is exactly that – fiction.  Why should that make a story or an enigmatic character less amazing?  No one is being duped, as the stories aren’t being sold as non-fiction.  And yet, people love to puzzle through works of fiction to find secret glimpses into an author’s life.

Granted, for the most part, I read smut filled romance novels – so do I really want to wonder about the author’s motivation for particular scenes, characters, and plot lines?  No.  (side note: ewww)

Personally, I take fiction for what it is listed as and enjoy it as such.  The imagination is an amazing thing, never limited by the restraints of the real world – that is what makes escaping into a fantasy world (or creating one) so magical and fun.

Fiction is meant to be fictional, and that’s okay with me.  🙂

By the way, if you love “Mary Poppins” or Disney in general, you should definitely go see “Saving Mr. Banks.”  It’s a great balance of funny, sweet, sadness, and overcoming obstacles.  I now have the overwhelming urge to pop my copy of “Mary Poppins” into the DVD player and sing along (even if I do sing off-key).

Review: Christmas Shorts

Ebook reviews – Short stories for Christmas

Romance is one of the few genres that can easily release hundreds of holiday stories – and the industry does, every year.  I’m somewhat divided on the holiday romance stories, as many of them (especially shorts) tend to be so cheesy that it becomes physically impossible to suppress the eye-roll.  So, it is generally with great reluctance that I download holiday lit  –  call me a hater all you want, but even if you’re the type to read these in the summertime, you know that many of these books are practically oozing with cheese.

Ebook review: “A spy for Christmas” By Kristen James

imageIn this short, we meet Robin Holliday, who recently broke up with her boyfriend. Instead of sulk, Robin goes on a trip to Hawaii to make the best of the situation.  On the trip back, Robin wins the seat mate lottery when her chatty seat mate swaps seats with the handsome and charming, Grayson. (This is perhaps the most fictional part of the story. :p). They flirt and bat eyelashes, but nothing really comes of it, as Grayson is a spy and doesn’t feel that this is the right time to get involved. However, all of that changes when Grayson sees foreign agents nearly kidnap Robin. He rushes in to save her and then the two are forced to spend a weekend together off the radar to stay safe.

I don’t want to summarize too much more, as it is only a novella.  It’s not overly cheesy, so that’s good.  Although the language used and some of the scenes are that of a novice writer, I think that the author shows some real potential.  I give this novel two and a half stars.  A good start in the hard genre of short romance, girl.

Ebook Review: “Holiday Rush” By Lisa Scott

imagePoor Lindy Richards.  After running late for a date on black Friday, Lindy cuts herself and her tights.  Bleeding (and smearing it on the door of her car), Lindy stops at a discount store to get a new pair of tights for her date.  Unfortunately, her inner saver (she’s a manager of a fancy clothes store) takes over and she grabs a whole bunch of clothes to try on. As fate would have it, she gets locked into the changing room.  Fearing the worst, her roommate calls the police. The press finds her car (bloody from cutting her leg) outside the local discount store.  The manager of the store (also the son of its owner), Alex finds her in the dressing room and the pair is filmed exiting the store.

Completing her string of bad luck, Lindy loses her job at the fancy store (for shopping at a discount store) and her blind date decides not to see her after all.  Luckily, Alex hires her to work at the discount store.  But there’s a no dating policy at the stone – boo.  But don’t worry, it doesn’t stop them….

This was a fun and not overly cheesy Christmas romance novel.  It did a good job of including all the elements of a Christmas story – giving to the needy and Christmas miracles as well as the elements of romance.  Another good start from an emerging author. I give this one three stars.

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Wishing you all a very happy holiday and a happy read, whatever your genre.  🙂

Review: “Something About You”

Ebook Review “Something About You,” By: Julie James

image I travel often for work and have spent many a night unable to go to sleep in hotel room after a long day’s work.  As a result, I read a lot – and many times, I turn to the fast and funny reads that are like cotton candy to my brain.

Being a frequent guest of hotels, I giggled in camaraderie with the beginning of “Something About You” – the heroine is stuck in a hotel room and kept awake by the <ahem> goings on of the room next door.  Even more amusing is that the author was apparently inspired by experiencing something similar.  Girl, I feel your pain.

In addition to the wild romp of the couple next door, our heroine, Cameron (Assistant DA), also overhears a murder.  Being the only witness to the murder of a politician’s secret mistress thrusts (sorry, couldn’t resist) FBI agent Jack Pallas back into Cameron’s life.

And boy, do Cameron and Jack have an interesting back story.  Let’s summarize to say that he dislikes her very much and blames her for something that is (of course) not really her fault.  Cameron also has a very good reason to be uncomfortable with Jack.  But despite all that dislike, there is an under-current of attraction which explodes when Jack is put in charge of keeping Cameron safe from a murderer who wants to tie up  his one loose end.

I loved this book because it manages to be funny (but not too over the top), has a hero/heroine with a lot of chemistry, and has a fairly decent collection of bad guys/mystery elements.  Four out of five stars.  🙂

Review: “The Devil in Winter” (Wallflowers Book #3)

Ebook Review:  “The Devil in Winter,” By Lisa Kleypas

image As it is December and officially cold as hell outside my door, I thought it would be the perfect time to read the third book in the Wallflower series – “The Devil in Winter,” so named for its devilish hero.

Yay! Bring on the bad boy lit!

In this excellent read, we follow the story of Evie – the terribly shy wallflower with a stutter and a family that tortures her.  Evie is desperate to escape the clutches of evil relatives and to tend to her father in his sickbed (she lives with extended family and not with her father).

Unfortunately, during this time period, there are not many options open to someone like Evie to escape from domineering and abusive relations, who just might kill her once she inherits her father’s fortune.  If she runs away to stay with one of her married friends, her male relatives can come and force her to return.  Her only real option is to marry a man with enough power to protect her, and also one who will let her live without trying to dominate her – not an easy task for a lady back in the day.  She turns to a man who is desperate to marry (for money), rakish Sebastian St. Vincent.  In his last desperate attempt to solve financial issues, he kidnapped the heroine of our last Wallflower book, Lillian, to try to marry her and gain her fortune.  Viscount St. Vincent, bruised and battered by Lillian’s now-husband, accepts Evie’s proposal to elope quickly.

St. Vincent is my favorite kind of romance novel bad guy – a sharp-tongued, sneaky, snarky rake who (we all know) is secretly a decent man and falls in love with our lovely heroine.

In the Wallflower series, Kleypas created heroines that are smart and bold individuals that buck the old romance standards, with Evie being no exception. Usually in historical romances, our heroine would consummate her marriage with the hero and fall in love with him very fast.  Then, she would resign herself to the fate of loving a man, who doesn’t (yet) love her, but decide to make the best of it by having sex with him all the time.  (Eventually, the hero admits his love and then they gain their happily ever after).

However, in “The Devil in Winter,” Evie tells St. Vincent that she will only have sex with him once – to make sure that her evil relatives cannot have the marriage annulled and make her go back home.  After that, they’ll have a sham marriage.  St. Vincent (again, a rake) agrees and says he doesn’t usually sleep with women more than once anyway.  Oh the plans of mice and men…

Of course their interlude together is amazing, life changing even.  But the next time our hero tries to seduce Evie, she tells him no and reminds him of their agreement.  He, of course, is annoyed.  I can almost imagine him turning to the reader at this point, flabbergasted by the situation.  He would point at the heroine and mutter to me, “can you believe her?  Does she know what kind of book she’s in?  This isn’t how it’s supposed to go!”  Heehee.  Evie tells Sebastian that she’ll let him return to her bed if he can prove he can be monogamous by being celibate for 3 months.

<Cackling with glee>  Oh, I love this book.  🙂  For an excellent heroine, a delicious (as well as redeeming) hero, and a great plot – I give 5 out of 5 stars.

Review: “Dark Witch” (Book One of the Cousins O’Dwyer)

Book Review:  “Dark Witch,” By Nora Roberts

imageTo the power of three, so it will be a trilogy! 🙂  “The Dark Witch” is the first book in the Cousins O’Dwyer series, Nora Robert’s latest paranormal romance.  I’ve never read her vampire series, but I will say, Nora Roberts has her witches down pat – from rhyming incantations to a dark battle between good and evil.

The first few chapters of the “Dark Witch”  cover the genesis of our pending epic battle.  It begins in 1263, with a battle of good and evil, between Sorcha (the dark witch) and Cabhan (a dark, powerful witch).  Cabhan will stop at nothing to increase his power – he thinks if he seduces Sorcha that they can rule together.  But Sorcha is a good witch and a good woman, with a husband and three children. She is forced to send her children away to safety (giving them all of her powers and creating medals to protect them) and tries to defeat Cabhan by sacrificing herself.  She nearly succeeds at vanquishing Cabhan, but he is able to survive, drawing his power from an amulet (which he probably made a deal with the devil to get).

Skip to 2013, where our story truly begins.  Iona, an only child and never truly loved by her parents, travels to Ireland – the land of her ancestors.  She is on a mission to have a little adventure, meet her cousins, and find a place where she truly fits.  Her cousins Branna and Connor take her in and forge a bond with her instantly.  Branna also gets Iona a job at the local stable, since she’s good with horses (it’s part of her power) and it is here that she meets Boyle (steady, quiet, manly man who also works at the stable).

We also get the set up for the coming books/love interests.  It’s not rock science and I’m not giving anything away: Connor (a bit of a flirt and Iona’s male witch cousin) and Meara (normal person and friend of the group).  Branna (smart, capable, and guarded witch) and Fin (descendant of bad guy Cabhan, but a really nice guy and powerful witch).  I think I’ll enjoy the last book with Branna and Fin the best, since there’s all kinds of dramatic tension and longing going on there, which I am a sucker for.

Side note:  I have to confess that because all of the characters (except Iona) are Irish, I did amuse myself by reading their voices in an Irish brogue.  I’m a sucker for accents (as most Americans are) and the Irish brogue is my favorite. <Sigh>  It makes me swoon.

Anyway, in the “Dark Witch,” Iona is tutored in the ways of the craft by her cousins and quickly falls for Boyle.  But looming in the shadows is Cabhan, plotting to kill the cousins, take their power, and you know, take over the world.  The threat of epic battles, meeting loving family/friends, and budding romances –  what else could we want from a paranormal romance?  How about for the next two installments to come out sooner?  The second book is slated for April 2014 and who knows when the last will come out?  Alas, some things are worth waiting for.

I give this book 4 stars out of 5.  Masterful, as always, from my favorite author…and I’m counting the days until I get to read the other stories! 🙂