Today I’m blogging over at The Romaniacs about writing from female or male point of view, in particular those *hot* scenes.
At the Heart of a Fairytale
by Vera Nazarian
I must warn you, Cobweb Bride is a fantasy that’s a little bit different from so many books being written now.
For one thing, it is written in a more traditional “vintage” style. There’s a breath of the nineteenth century nostalgia, and a bit of creepy darkness found in the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, and reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. There is also a sense of many layers, ornate imagery, and a richness of history that can be found in fantasy that fully partakes of the world storytelling tradition.
For another thing, Cobweb Bride is not fast paced. Instead, as any profound mystery, it starts out slow and immersive, and compels you onward into its trap of enchantment. First, it firmly anchors you with wonder, as it illuminates the universe in a glittering mother-of-pearl palette of ethereal colors, using “paint” that is slightly touched by faerie magic, so that snowflakes sparkle like stars, and stars cascade down like snowflakes, until you forget what it is that’s falling, in this alternate Renaissance world blanketed in deadly Winter. And then, the action speeds up, drawing you deeper into the funnel, closer and closer to the scary-beautiful thing at the heart of the fairytale….
This is also a modern-day fable. And at its center is the ancient myth of Persephone and Hades in the Underworld. But don’t be fooled. You will not encounter the myth in its ordinary easy trappings. Instead, you will have to dig deep and search underneath things, and peek inside dark corners, to find it. Because… you are looking for shadows. And here, in this fairytale, shadows are not what they seem.
This is a story of Death—Death, the gentleman, taking on grim, elegant, human form. Death, the irresistible lover, searching for his lost bride. Death, the capricious stranger with control over all of us mortals. Death’s choice—to stop all dying until his Cobweb Bride is found and brought to him—sets in motion a series of world-altering events, like dominos falling.
This is the story of Love—Love of a young peasant girl, love of a granddaughter for her dying grandmother, love of grieving parents for their undead daughter, love of a fair maiden for a brave knight, love of a son for his broken father, love of a princess for a villain, loves of peasants and aristocrats, emperors and witches. In fact, if you draw closer, you will find that there are so many forms of love exemplified in this story that it too is at the heart of the fairytale….
In the absence of Death,
In the presence of Death,
Only one thing remains,
It is Love.
Finally, this is an epic. An ensemble cast of characters, with intertwining lives and pseudo-history, in the tradition of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, and with just as much “death,” but death that is treated in an entirely different humane manner—because there is no true dying in this fairytale and all the dead remain as active characters throughout—and with sympathetic main characters that serve as permanent anchors throughout the story.
So what then is really at the heart of a fairytale such as Cobweb Bride?
It is you.
Come, take that first step upon glittering virgin snow, and sink inward!
Vera Nazarian is a two-time Nebula Award® Finalist and a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She immigrated to the USA from the former USSR as a kid, sold her first story at 17, and has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, honorably mentioned in Year’s Best volumes, and translated into eight languages.
Vera made her novelist debut with the critically acclaimed Dreams of the Compass Rose, followed by Lords of Rainbow. Her novella The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass with an introduction by Charles de Lint made the 2005 Locus Recommended Reading List. Her debut collection Salt of the Air with an introduction by Gene Wolfe contains the 2007 Nebula Award-nominated “The Story of Love.”
Other work includes the 2008 Nebula Finalist novella The Duke in His Castle, science fiction collection After the Sundial (2010), The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration (2010), and four Jane Austen parodies, Mansfield Park and Mummies (2009), Northanger Abbey and Angels and Dragons (2010), Pride and Platypus: Mr. Darcy’s Dreadful Secret (2012), and Pagan Persuasion: All Olympus Descends on Regency (forthcoming), all part of her Supernatural Jane Austen Series.
After many years in Los Angeles, Vera now lives in a small town in Vermont. She uses her Armenian sense of humor and her Russian sense of suffering to bake conflicted pirozhki and make art. In addition to being a writer, philosopher, and award-winning artist, she is also the publisher of Norilana Books.
Cobweb Bride Mailing List:
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Vera Nazarian’s Amazon Author Central page
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(Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One)
by Vera Nazarian
Release Date: July 15, 2013
Publisher: Norilana Books
$24.95 US / 18.00 UK
$14.95 US / 12.00 UK
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Have No Shame, takes the reader into the deep south of America in the 60’s where racial prejudice is not just rife, but a way of life.
Alison, on the cusp of womanhood, has led a sheltered life, the wider world and its views kept from her by her over-protective father. However, the return of her sister from New York, together with the meeting of a young black man are the catalysts for a journey of realisation, self-discovery and new understanding of those closest to her in this coming of age novel.
I found Melissa Foster’s writing to have a great depth of emotion and I could really empathise with the conflicts experienced by the characters. Although a subject matter that has been covered many-a-time, Have No Shame tells the story of racial segregation and prejudices in a fresh way with one or two outcomes I hadn’t expected.
The racially-charged prejudice of the deep South forces eighteen-year-old Alison Tillman to confront societal norms—and her own beliefs—when she discovers the body of a hate crime victim, and the specter of forbidden love turns her safe, comfortable world upside down.
Alison has called Forrest Town, Arkansas home for the past eighteen years. Her mother’s Blue Bonnet meetings, her father toiling night and day on the family farm, and the division of life between the whites and the blacks are all Alison knows. The winter of 1967, just a few months before marrying her high school sweetheart, Alison finds the body of a black man floating in the river, and she begins to view her existence with new perspective. The oppression and hate of the south, the ugliness she once was able to avert her eyes from, now demands her attention.
When a secretive friendship with a young black man takes an unexpected romantic turn, Alison is forced to choose between her predetermined future, and the dangerous path that her heart yearns for.
HAVE NO SHAME is an emotionally compelling coming of age novel featuring a young woman who cannot reconcile the life she wants with the one she’s been brought up to live. Have No Shame will resonate with anyone who has ever fallen in love, and those who have been forced to choose between what they know in their hearts to be true, and what others would like them to believe.
Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 6th 2013 by World Literary Press
098905084X (ISBN13: 9780989050845)
Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Café. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Our Fragile World
Last year, UK farmers were hit by drought in March followed by the second wettest year on record. This year we have already suffered the coldest spring for fifty years. Extreme weather can devastate crop production and seems to be on the increase. In early June there were floods in Prague and Hungary and nearly every week we hear of some local environmental catastrophe. If these events become ever more frequent and crops continue to fail, if the bee decline persists, if the population continues to grow and require more food, then the planet is at risk of global food shortages.
In my novel A Meeting of a Different Kind, one of the sub-plots flirts with environmental concerns and sustainability issues. I have developed this further in the sequel which I hope to publish next year. However, so pressing are the issues, I would like to share some thoughts now, before it’s too late.
Modern cultures generally do not live in a sustainable way and it is increasingly evident that we cannot proceed in this manner indefinitely. Land and resources are finite and a month ago there was a report that we should start eating less meat because of the acreage taken up in growing animal feedstuffs. Of course this is one option, but even this is not sustainable if the population continues to rise worldwide. Indeed at the root of many of our environmental problems is the escalating global population.
Last week I was alarmed to find the so-called full price for a handful of raspberries in an up-market supermarket was 3.99. This is one of many examples of how food prices have escalated over the past two years. The more we can grow our own, the better. We don’t all have gardens or even balconies, so we need to be creative – like people were in the war. Even if we have a garden, we may not have the time, energy or inclination to plant it with fruit and vegetables. But with allotment waiting-lists often very long, it is probable that there will be someone in the locality who would be pleased to cultivate your garden in exchange for a portion of the crop. Already there are small-scale local enterprises putting people in touch with each other for this purpose, but it needs to become more widespread if it is to have real impact. And social networking, particularly Twitter, might be the perfect medium through which to operate such a scheme.
There are occasional reports of a practice known as guerrilla gardening where a group of individuals – often under cover of darkness – plant up derelict common space with flowers fruit or vegetables. Although technically illegal, a group based in Glasgow has received endorsement from the city council who said they do not have the funds to do it themselves. Perhaps this approach could be expanded elsewhere. Also, local authorities could take steps to use available resources to plant fruit trees instead of ornamental varieties wherever possible, and perhaps grow cabbages and carrots instead of alyssum and lobelia in the flower beds of parks. Imagine how wonderful this might be.
I hear you say, ‘But people will take the produce like the man who stole Tom Good’s leeks from his front garden in the seventies comedy, The Good Life.’ That is the whole point. If there were enough initiatives in every village, in every town and city, on every street, then there would be enough produce for everyone to have a share. Of course there are those that would be greedy; those who would abuse the spirit of the enterprise. But is this a good enough reason for not giving it a chance? It might be that peer pressure and community spirit would be sufficient to prevent abuse in most places. After all, the countryside is full of natural goodies for foragers to gather. We don’t worry about some individuals taking too many blackberries or elderberries, hazelnuts or sweet chestnuts, mushrooms or wild garlic, sloes or rose hips or juniper berries, crab apples and so forth. We admire their effort, even if the produce ends up being sold at market or used in a restaurant. Our parks could grow rosemary and thyme, bay trees and basil, giving people an opportunity to harvest a sprig or a leaf or two when they are out for a walk. And the addition of fruiting trees would be delightful.
All these ideas are merely from one branch of sustainable initiatives we might explore. Each gardening project needs time to develop and in the case of trees, time to mature. Starting now is likely to contribute to a far better future. In my opinion, it’s as significant as that.
A Meeting of a Different Kind is about complex love relationships, likely to be enjoyed by a wide range of women and men. The references to environmental and sustainability issues are intended to be of general interest and to provoke people into finding out more.
Print Length: 352 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1780883250
Publisher: Matador (1 Nov 2012)
When archaeologist Edward Harvey’s wife Felicity inherits almost a million, she gives up her job, buys a restaurant and, as a devotee of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, starts turning their home into a small eco-farm. Edward is not happy, not least because she seems to be losing interest in him. Taryn is a borderline manic-depressive, a scheming minx, a seductress and user of men. Edward and Taryn don’t know each other but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is a former classmate who sends him crazy emails. She is Taryn’s best friend, and when Marianne meets Edward, she tells Taryn how wonderful he is and that he is not the philandering type. Taryn sees a challenge and concocts a devious plan to meet him during a series of lectures he is giving at the British Museum. When Edward and Taryn’s paths cross, questions of friendship, loyalty and betrayal are played out against a backdrop of mental fragility and the destabilising effects of a large inheritance…
Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught secondary science and biology in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write, paint and make jewellery. In 1990 she was lured back into teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught health and social care and psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’.
At the end of 2009, Linda broke her wrist very badly through tripping over a classroom chair. Reminded of the fragility of life and how time was passing with her writing dreams still unfulfilled, she decided to publish her first novel independently. Meeting Lydia was inspired by finding an ex classmate on Friends Reunited. The novel explores the effects of school bullying on later life, and the pros and cons of internet relationships from the perspective of a woman going through a midlife crisis. It was published in September 2011. The stand-alone sequel, A Meeting of a Different Kind, had already been drafted before Linda broke her wrist and was published in November last year. It continues the story from the perspectives of two different characters, looking at issues of friendship, loyalty and betrayal. Both books may be read independently and are being very well-received by a wide ranging readership of men as well as women. It is expected that there will be a third part to the series and this is a work in progress.
Health issues in 2011 prompted Linda to retire from teaching in order to concentrate on her writing career. She hopes that with this new focus she can bring her books to the notice of a larger audience.
How You Leave Texas is a volume of three short stories and a novella about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail. The young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and they find it. Hilarious, tragic, and revelatory, the stories are about extraordinary women with ordinary lives
Synopsis of individual stories:
Dam Broke – On the night of their high school graduation, Annabelle and Mickey ride a scooter in pouring rain as they reveal closely held secrets. (6 pages).
In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.
Camille’s Net Worth – On the day she turns 40, Camille’s life goes from bored to worse in uncontrolled demolition. She accepts an exciting job opportunity and travels back and forth to Indonesia. The job isn’t what is appears, but the irony of how things turn out causes Camille to laugh until she has tears rolling down her face. (42 pages).
“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
Krystal’s Wedding – Krystal leaves her seriously flawed family in Midland, heading for New York City, where she takes a few slippery steps. Krystal’s mother encourages her to find a husband in order to escape her loud roommate in Hell’s Kitchen and her boring job. However, Krystal actually gets her footing in New York and in life when she is offered a new, fulfilling direction (21 pages).
Krystal felt safer with Hudson there, but it must be as clear to him and his family as it was to her that theirs was a match of china and paper plates. As Krystal faked a sip of the champagne with a name she couldn’t read because it was printed in twirly letters in French, she wondered how hard his mother would try to prevent Hudson from getting too serious …
Frying Your Burger – Nicky and three irreverent friends spend mornings at a coffee shop tossing repartee on love, sex, and religion. For a short while, Nicky is caught up with a sexy Hollywood player, becoming a pawn in the battle of egos between two movie directors trying to ruin each others careers. The affair flares, then fizzles, but Nicky lands on her feet (108 pages).
I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the “hospital orderly fashion catalogue.” It was all I had clean that day.
Alana Cash is an adventurer. She’s been on ride-alongs in New York City patrol cars. She’s kissed a man inside Norman Bates’ Psycho house. She trekked alone through war-torn Serbia. She’s used her experiences as inspiration for her work as an acclaimed writer and filmmaker. Some of her favorite accolades are:
She’s a native Texan and makes great chili.
I’ve been interviewed at Layered Pages by Stephanie Hopkins, promoter for indieBRAG.
My wonderful friend and fellow Romaniac, Laura James has news, good news, in fact, really great news. Delighted for her! 😀
Sorry for shouting. It wasn’t the aggressive shouty type. More of a town cryer style because Hear ye, Hear ye we have some fantastic news for you today. And without further ado, we’ll get on with asking the lady herself…
We’ve noticed at Romaniac HQ that Laura hasn’t been eating her cake of late. We know this means something is on her mind. So, tell us Laura, what’s occurring?
You know me, stomach’s always the first to give when anything major happens in my life.
Don’t leave us guessing, Laura! You are being interviewed by a lady who is heavily pregnant with twins. I’m not in a position to be left in the lurch. What is the MAJOR thing that has happened in your life?
Sorry, Catherine. Hang in there.
I should warn you, I’m liable to spontaneously combust at any moment, and that’s something even I can’t plan for…
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This is the first book I’ve read by Phillipa Ashley and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I have to say I really loved It Happened One Night.
Initially, I thought this was going to be a story of young love between and 18 year old, Sophie, and 21 year old, Adam, but that was just the first few chapters where the scene and background were set for the rest of the book. The ‘early’ years ended on a cliff hanger – all the reader knows is that something quite bad happened at a party. The next chapter starts 10 years later, where we catch up with Sophie and Adam and find out what happened and how their lives have moved on since then. The supporting cast had some great characters which all added to an entertaining, fun and relaxed read.
Phillipa Ashley has a lovely, fresh style of writing that is well developed, yet casual at the same time. It made me feel totally at home and once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down.
Definitely one to put in your suitcase alongside your flip-flops and sun cream.
Sophie McBride has been in love with Adam Templar for as long as she can remember. Talented, brilliant and sexy, he shines like the sun over the tiny Lakeland village where she’s grown up. Now, at eighteen, she has her own big ideas and what’s more, Adam is home from university and has finally noticed her . . . really noticed her. When he asks her to a party, she dares to hope that all her dreams can come true, but what happens that night sets off a chain of events that bring heartbreak for Sophie – and lead to Adam leaving Langmere under the darkest of clouds.
Ten years later, no one is more shocked than Sophie to find him back in the village. Now an up-and-coming film director, he’s returned to make a drama about a notorious local poet and brought his glamorous cast, crew – and girlfriend – with him. As the on-screen drama plays out, can Sophie and Adam lay the past to rest or will history repeat itself?
British author, Phillipa Ashley, loves writing lively, sexy, funny romantic fiction. After studying English Language and Literature at Oxford University, she worked as a copywriter and journalist. Her novels have been published by Headline Little Black Dress, Piatkus Entice and Samhain Publishing.
She started writing fiction in 2005, after being inspired by the BBC TV drama, North & South. Her first novel, Decent Exposure – titled Dating Mr December for the US – topped the Play.com Romance chart and won the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award 2007. In 2009, it was filmed as a Lifetime TV movie called 12 Men of Christmas starring Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Hopkins. Having her novel made into a movie inspired It Happened One Night which is published in June 2013.
Her most recent book for Piatkus Entice is Miranda’s Mount which won Best e book at the Festival of Romance Reader Awards 2012.
Her books have been translated into many languages including Thai, Turkish, Bulgarian and Russian. In the US, four of her books have been published by Sourcebooks and reached the Amazon.com Romance Top 20. She was a judge for the RNA Love Story of the Year 2011 and has interviewed many interesting people during her career as a journalist including the writers, Ian Rankin and Sir John Mortimer and actors Richard Armitage, Robert Powell and Nigel Havers.
Phillipa lives in Staffordshire with her husband and daughter and loves Champagne, Jane Austen, hiking, surfing and body boarding. She also loves visiting her apartment in the Lake District as often as possible, the setting for It Happened One Night.
She is represented by the Wade & Doherty Literary Agency and Sayle Screen.
Twitter : @PhillipaAshley