The Easter Hoard

Hehe, look at my stash. Childish pointing aside, I thought I’d share with you the sorts of chocolates I got for Easter (aka – the ‘why are they feeding me chocolate when I’m trying to eat more healthily?’ post!). Anyway, onwards to the pwetty photos. ;)

Cream_AlexB

Coming out of the first post is my gift to myself. I love unusual eggs, especially those with fillings within their shells, and I am rather partial to white chocolate. Whilst £10 for an Easter egg sounds unreasonably expensive, this is good (okay, not top, but the eggs can get much higher in price) quality, James Chocolates chocolate bought from John Lewis, with embedded sprinkles, glitter and ALL OF THE TOPPINGS! That’s not cream/icing you’re seeing; it’s white chocolate swirled into place and set with yellow smarties.

Classy egg.

GoldSilver_AlexB

Lindt Golden Bunnies coming at’cha. In silver. (I had trouble taking a nice picture with the full colour on, so this is the black/white version.) My mother bought me this for Easter day, a milk chocolate egg with three mini milk bunnies. Multibox_AlexB

Cadbury’s eggs. Flake and KitKat. These were two generic milk chocolate eggs with their associated chocolate bars in the box. My mother and I are sharing these, as they were given to both of us by mutual friends. Nice, but not really to my taste. The shells have quite generic chocolate. 2/5Bunny2_AlexB

And, of course, giving us the evil eye is the crinkly dark chocolate Lindt from Monday’s photo. It now has no ears. Nom.

That’s it from me.

So, share, share! What sorts of chocolates did you guys did? Or did you – as I tried – opt for the cash/gift replacement? Or nothing? If it’s the latter, I admire you! Pictures, guys!

Photo of the Week: Bunnies

This is the third Easter on the blog and so the third set of pictures to do with Easter on the blog - so much so that I was able to deliver the photos from my phone camera to the same folder on my laptop: food/Easter. This year, I got quite the hoard, but I’ll leave that for another post. ;)

But here’s a whole bunny family – both fake, yet both as cute as the other. One – the fluffy gift – I got maybe three or four Easters ago; the dark chocolate rabbit is this year’s addition, but it’s not the first of the Lindt chocolate’s I’ve tried. Yay!

MoreEaster1_AlexB

Out of many cute photos I managed to take, this one is probably my favourite in terms of artistry and I like the closeup and the matching of ‘fur’ and shiny wrapper and the green background (yeah, they’re my stairs…). But it works.

 

New Adult: Weak Women are Awesome, I Trust Plebeian Wisdom, and Lizzy Bennett Matches My MC

In between my panicking that my MS isn’t actually the genre I say it is, and vlogging about such things too, I stumbled upon the Wikipedia page for New Adult fiction (turns out that Wikipedia lists it as ‘New-Adult’ with the hyphen), which I had been looking for at the beginning of my foray into understanding the genre.

Now, I don’t trust Wikipedia, but, for the same reason that it takes the knowledge of everyone across the world, I appreciate its simple opinion influenced by the readers more than the writers. Plebeian wisdom, one might remark.

One paragraph under the ‘themes and issues’ section of the page remarks that, whilst there is an overlap with YA themes such as bullying in NA (I’m looking at you, page one of manuscript), there are NA themes that are entirely separate from YA:

“Some common examples of issues include: first jobs, starting college, wedding engagements and marriage, starting new families, friendships post-high school, military enlistment, financial independence, living away from home for the first time, empowerment, loss of innocence, fear of failure.”

Wedding engagement and starting new families is at the core and stakes of my novel. I asked one Beta what she thought one of the themes was, and, instead of ‘love’ as I myself expected, she said ‘family and loyalty,’ which is, in fact, totally true of the book. Financial independence and living away from home for the first time – check, on both Aidelle and Phillip’s sides, but especially Phillip’s, since he protests that he doesn’t want to rely on his inheritance, but yet struggles to get away from it when Rion uses it as blackmail. I’m not going to tell you whether or not Phillip decides on financial independence at the end.

I’m also going to argue for ‘empowerment’ and ‘fear of failure’ as being checked off, too, this time from Aidelle’s perspective.

I don’t write powerful women. I believe that they have become an expected and overdone trope in writing, making them unrealistic of real life. I’m not a strong woman, nor, I bet, would many of my female friends say they were if I asked them. A lot of women are going to break down when they hear their pacifist fiancé is going to war instead of marrying (‘military enlistment’ – check). I can’t find the blog at the moment, but I recall to mind a blogger who argued that Bella’s depression when Edward leaves her is totally justified. I say that maybe it’s not compatible with how she’s acted before (or maybe it is. I hated Twilight from the start.), but it makes sense. Emotionally.

Some NA women are weak. Some can’t control their temper and do burst into tears at love’s loss (yes, I fall into this category). However, this doesn’t make them bad characters unless they’re badly written. For instance, over at the Notebook sisters blog, Mime talks about how Disney women are not the pink-dress-wearing damsels about which many complain. She points out that, although, in the first movies, the princesses needed men to rescue them, this didn’t make them weak. They had other qualities, as shared by most women, be they modern-day, Victorian, or a combination of the two in my alternate universe.

Yes, Aidelle is the younger of the MCs at 20, but, because of the nature of the class system in The Continent, she’s been sheltered by her middle-class parents, who want only for her to enter into a good marriage. She’s stubborn, but not strong. She agrees to meet the man who has chosen her for marriage – and little do either realise that their temperaments are a perfect match, even if Aidelle was Phillip’s ‘worst’ wife-card out of his second Selection.

Aidelle says she’d rather not marry – and, yet, as soon as she falls for Phillip, she wants to be his bride. So much so, that one might call her a flighty fawner when we meet her in chapter one.

“Oh, to be wed at the age of twenty!”

At that point in time, failure for Aidelle is the failure to achieve her biggest dream of being Mrs. Costello. I don’t think Aidelle was ever afraid of being a failure to conform to her family’s ideals, even if she did agree to them. Sometimes, one has to say yes to the demands and protestations of family.

One of the arcs I hope is clear in the novel is that Aidelle has got to learn to separate her desires from her fear of failure, to learn empowerment as her own, unique person, rather than being a) the daughter of an Oil Physicist or b) Phillip’s wife. Pretty much her only options in 2010. Through meeting and experiencing the future in the character of Zara (who, whilst not entirely at the dreadful level of real-life feminism, lives in a more balanced society), Aidelle must realise that she has more to herself than what she looks like or who she aspires to be in mente.

Her current self, regardless of weaknesses, should be a state of empowerment. Full stop.

download (2)Moving topic, I was day-dreaming about Pride and Prejudice’s take on the way the absence of love can physically affect the body (as a Philosophical Psychologist would, right? :P) and it occurred to me that Lizzy is, after all, 23 at the beginning of the novel Just looked this up, and she’s actually 20. My MC is the same age as Lizzy Bennett and she shares her regency attitude and overbearing girls-must-marry mother (and her loss of love…), though maybe not so much her wit or patience!

*cough* Anyway, I was about to remark that, along with many classical books, one could consider Pride and Prejudice as being New Adult because of the age-range of the sisters, the ideas of friendship within society and that of independence versus the requirement of a husband for success.

Lastly, I do not believe NA is a marketing scheme. Many of us had been writing NA for years before it became a ‘thing’. I was 5 years younger than Aidelle and Lizzy when I started writing, but it’s taken me a good three years to understand that their story/ies are not YA, even if the themes of moving out and moving on may be like those ideas of YA. When I queried when my MS wasn’t ready, I didn’t know about NA so I queried as YA – though, in my heart, I knew it didn’t fit.

Whilst some NA has been recognised by the industry now, I still argue that it needs more attention and importance as a category. Its themes are difficult to really encapsulate in YA and some degrees of adult fiction. The biggest problem, however, is the subjectivity, and I suspect it will be this way for a while.

Steampunky Love

It seems that I will have one of those months where I write consecutive posts one week, but fail to get anything in the next. I’m very sporadic and crazy at the moment. As I did say, I am trying to revise for my exams, so I have been putting my entire collection of ideas on the back burner.

Anyway, I promised a snapshot of my crazy, steampunk ghosts dream. Whilst I have a proper chapter of the new novel idea, it tracks into the 3.5K words; therefore, I’ve just delivered a snapshot of what I wrote. Enjoy!

TableClock_AlexB

The click of Alexander’s heels together raised her face from her hands. He slid from the sitting chair to the wooden floor. His fingers worked at a hidden bolt, a hidden trapdoor of which only Charles’ best occupants knew. Alexander wandered down the steps onto the Evening Platform, a platform-balcony of wooden boards and struts spanning the length of the conservatory – and, rightly, on which it balanced – and Cathy, determined not to creep with her tail between her legs, followed.

“Where are you going, Alexander?”

He’d strode to the square opening in the middle of the platform, from which dropped a stiff, vertical ladder of raw iron rungs. Alexander descended. Smugly.

“You cannot stay another night in New York without your four bags. Yes, I counted.”

Cathy huffed. She didn’t care that she travelled heavy. “I’ll get them after The Passing.”

“No, you shan’t. No woman should walk at night…lest words be spoken.”

Alexander was halfway across Charles’ outer court before Cathy had pushed herself onto the well-traversed steel ladder. She clamped a boot on the rung above hers where it clanged as it landed. “I’ll be comfortable without my bags.”

“I do not mind. My pleasure.”

This time, Cathy bit her lip so the taste of blood fuelled her. Far from his stubborn dismissal of her all afternoon, she fumed at his audacity to risk his life against the post-dusk for the retrieval of her bags.

No. She unwound the heel of her boot from the iron rung and jumped to the ground. Flakes of mud rose to her gown hem.

“Alexander, you shan’t.”

He spun, and Cathy almost crumbled under his fierce glare. “I shall do what I please, thank you, Miss.”

She took one step back, as if the force of his words had smacked her across the face. Certainly, her weak-womaned form made her a lesser creature (in his eyes…in the world’s eyes), but Cathy still curled together her hands. She didn’t understand his need to fetch her items for her.

With one last look of disdain, Alexander spun. He fixed his thumbs into his pocket-edges and stormed through the wooden sidegate.

Fine. She didn’t need him. Not like that. Cathy shifted her hands onto her hips and sashayed back to the scaffolding structure under the conservatory. Well, almost. She’d just checked her gloves (had Charles even seen the mess the iron rungs shed onto ladies’ white fingers?) when her breath caught in her throat, crystallised, and spewed out of her mouth in a broken rush.

Coldness. More than coldness: water-bare, lifeless coldness from her toes to the strand of hair falling across her forehead. Cathleen Worth-Hamilton raised her eyes to the entrance of Charles’ complex.

Heads and hands materialised at the far gate. First, blue lips puckered through the atmosphere, then a nose more beak than skin, and eyes as pinpricks. Cathy wilted. They’d come. The first phantasma drifted in the shape of an elderly women, her white hair stained by the darkness. It had taken no more than a metre’s way before another pulled through the air, this an apparition of maybe eleven with her grey hair loose around her shoulders. A male phantasm followed them, a young man of Alexander’s age, perhaps.

Alexander. With The Passing hitting every New York abode, he’d be caught in the way. If he didn’t move fast enough to a platform with distance between it and the floor, the ghosts would Pass through his soul.

“Cathy!” Charles called. When had he climbed out onto the balcony? “You must move. Now!”

She shook her head. Unnatural fear smudged through her body, rooting her to her place.

Charles’ gloved fingertips weren’t even close to her shoulder. “Take my hand.”

“Alexander’s out there.”

~

Spy Wednesday

Miss Alexandrina:

I’d not heard of the term ‘Spy Wednesday’ before, but there’s no better time to learn than today as part of Lenten preparations.

Originally posted on 1catholicsalmon:

thirty-pieces-of-silver

In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) we see that 30 pieces of silver was what a slave was sold for, which wasn’t a lot of money. Judas Iscariot betrayed Our Lord for the classic “30 pieces of silver” and Jesus knew it.

Holy Wednesday was known as Spy Wednesday in reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Escariot. Judas went to the Sanhedrin who were plotting against Jesus and offered them his support in exchange for 30 pieces of silver. The events that lead Jesus to the cross are filled with intrigue, suspense and an impending sense of disaster, thus it was called Spy Wednesday. The events that lead Jesus to the cross are filled with intrigue, suspense and an impending sense of disaster.

The powers of good and evil, light and darkness, sin and salvation are poised to exhibit themselves at the place we call Golgotha

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Photo of the Week: Wantage in Spring

Yes, another post pushed back from yesterday. In fact, I took this photo only this morning. But it was my friend’s birthday yesterday, so I popped back to my uni hall for the night and had no time for photography. The world is definitely getting its spring coat on, including buds and flowers unfolding from bushes and trees like these – and just look at that blue sky! That’s real.

WantageInSpring_AlexB

The Devil In Midwinter Cover Feature Blitz

Just days hot from World Weaver Press is this New Adult Paranormal Romance novella, THE DEVIL IN MIDWINTER. I’m part of the cover feature blitz going on across blogs. Without further ado:

Devil in Midwinter, Elise Forier Edie, World Weaver Press

Isn’t it stunning? Now, I’m not normally a fan of covers with people on them, but the hues of red, green and black capture the glamorous seasonal magic of the blurb.

A handsome stranger, a terrifying monster, a boy who burns and burns… 

Mattawa, Washington, is usually a sleepy orchard town come December, until a murder, sightings of a fantastic beast, and the arrival of a handsome new vintner in town kindle twenty-year-old reporter Esme Ulloa’s curiosity—and maybe her passion as well. But the more she untangles the mystery, the more the world Esme knows unspools, until she finds herself navigating a place she thought existed only in storybooks, where dreams come alive, monsters walk the earth and magic is real. When tragedy strikes close to home, Esme finds she must strike back, matching wits with an ancient demon in a deadly game, where everything she values stands to be lost, including the love of her life.

Read the digital edition exclusively from these retailers:
Amazon | All Romance | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Read the trade paperback edition from these and other retailers:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million| Independent Bookstores

As part of the tour, author Elise Forier Elie stopped by the blog to talk about the setting of THE DEVIL IN MIDWINTER:

ROMANCE IN THE “OTHER” WASHINGTON

“The Devil in Midwinter” is set in the eastern half of Washington State, in a little, out of the way town called Mattawa, near the Columbia River.  Mattawa has two claims to fame (besides being the setting for my new paranormal romance, of course).  (1)It is part of the Geoff Mack song  “I’ve Been Everywhere,” (“Oklahoma, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma”).  (2) It was mentioned in an X-Files episode (Season 1, Episode 17).

In the X-Files story, Mulder and Scully set off for Mattawa to investigate a UFO sighting.  Of course, when the episode aired, residents of the tiny town (population 5,000) tuned in to see their Columbia Riverside paradise on the screen…only to find a shot of a drizzly, pine-lined highway in the middle of nowhere.

Um. Newsflash for the makers of the X-files: Mattawa, Washington is not known for its pine trees.

In fact, large swaths of Washington State have no pine trees at all.  Ditto for the rain.  Yes, it rains a lot on the coast of Washington.  But in the thousands of miles that make up the rest of the state, there’s other stuff: mountains, fields, farms, deserts, rivers, snow, sagebrush and lots and lots of orchards. They’re especially gorgeous in springtime, with miles and miles of flowers, pink and white. In cherry season, you can get Rainiers (the pretty yellow and pink ones) cheap in Mattawa, and eat them from the bag like candy.  In the fall, you can get the first pick of the Pink Ladies right off the tree. My Washington State smells of sage, sounds like coyotes, and has clear night skies so full of constellations, it’s like an orchard of light up above you, with stars close enough to pluck from the dark.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like the west coast of Washington too, with its cities and fish markets, drizzle and mountain views.  But the view from the other side of the Cascade Mountains is pretty sweet, too.  And it’s easier to see, because of the clear desert air.

In “The Devil in Midwinter,” readers will not find any rainstorms, misty beaches, ferry boats or pine trees.  But they will find some seriously romantic settings that include rosy desert mornings and miles of apple blossoms.  I hope they enjoy a glimpse of this other Washington, and maybe even become curious enough to visit.  If they do, I highly recommend the wines, the rafting, the cowboys and the apples.

Elise Forier Edie, World Weaver PressAbout the author: Elise Forier Edie is an author and playwright based in southern California. Recent works include the play “The Pink Unicorn,” which performed at the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York, a short story, “Leonora,” published in Penumbra magazine and several plays, included in the anthology “Original Middle School Scenes and Monologues,” edited by Kent R. Brown. She is a member of the Authors Guild, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is married to actor Keith Edie. When she is not writing, she likes to make quilts and soup, but rarely at the same time. Visit Elise Forier Edie on these sites to follow her or list her as one of your favorite authors: Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter @EliseForierEdie, and http://www.eliseforieredie.com.