Writing Wednesday: 7 Stories, 7 Days – #4

By my fourth story on this writing adventure, I decided it was time to break the sad trend of the previous two and write something funny again.  With the prompt, “an intermission, a chateau, mistaken identity,” I wound up with a P.G. Wodehouse-inspired story of a conwoman, with a lot of absurdity and a touch of romance, with a happier ending than Story #3!

Here’s the opening scene of the story.

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It all began during a production of Gounod’s Faust.  A quite bad production, or so the gentleman with the pince nez told me.  I happen to be tone deaf.

“Egad, but this is shockingly bad, isn’t it?” he said to me on the interval, as we milled about in the grand entry hall, chandeliers glimmering overhead and the crowd glittering around us.

“Oh yes, shocking,” I agreed, sipping my champagne and studying this new conversation partner.  He was at least forty years my senior, hair gray, evening coat gray, eyes gray, skin with the grayish pallor of a man who has never worked outside in all his life.  He was the most elegant, most obviously rich person I had ever seen, and I was surprised that he was speaking to me.

“That Marguerite couldn’t carry a tune if her life depended on it, and Faust looked no more like a man capable of demonic involvement than a choir boy,” he derided in a stentorian voice.

“I don’t imagine you’ve met many choir boys,” I murmured.

He stared at me through his pince nez for a moment, then erupted in a roar of laughter heard around the room.  “I have always loved your sense of humor!” he informed me, then clapped one hand to his forehead.  “By jove, I nearly forgot!”  He reached into his jacket pocket and drew out a folded square of paper.  “Here is your invitation to my château, for my Friday to Monday shooting party.  You mustn’t disappoint me.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” I said smoothly, accepting the paper.

“Capital, simply capital!” he said, just as the bell sounded for five minutes to curtain.  “Ah, back to the wars.”  He turned towards the entrance to the theater.  “I look forward to seeing you again, Cousin Mabel,” he tossed over his shoulder, and disappeared into the crowd.

I wondered who Cousin Mabel was.

Friday Face-Off: Over the Rainbow

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It’s the right day again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme…did not actually speak to me.  So I’m taking advantage of the freebie option to use the Friday Face-Off format but choose my own theme.  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday, I decided to do a cover featuring a rainbow.

The first book with an important rainbow to come to mind was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum…though I admit the rainbow was more prominent in the movie than the book.  Which might be why it doesn’t show up on more covers!

This cover with that little smudgy rainbow in the background was the only rainbow I could find!  Which makes the whole idea not so appropriate for the holiday, but by now I’m invested in the Wizard of Oz idea, so…

I like the style of this one, both fun and artsy, though the lion turned out a bit cartoonish…

I like the framing effect here, and the image of the four friends journeying together.  I’ve always had a soft spot for images of people walking off down a road though–there’s such possibility!

I like the high drama of this one!  It’s also quite different from most others, which almost universally show Dorothy and her friends, and/or the yellow brick road.

My favorite cover is…actually the very first one up there!  There’s a funny bit of history to Oz illustrations.  I read all the illustrated editions of the entire series, and the strange thing is that they changed illustrators after the first book.  So all the later books have a particular, very charming art style, which just doesn’t exist for the first book.  So covers of The Wizard of Oz always look wrong to me!  And the first one, while not the same depiction of the characters, seems the closest to “right” in art style.

Along with the notable lack of a rainbow on Oz covers, I also noticed that not a single one I could find actually shows the Wizard of Oz!

SCW Quarterly Retreat: March 2019

I had an excellent time out at the Stonehenge Circle Writers retreat today. I didn’t finish the novella I’ve been working on, but made some progress, and wrote a flash fiction piece I like from a writing prompt we tried. Awesome day all around!

Stonehenge Circle Writers

Several of our writers got together today for a day-long retreat.  It was a great chance for some writing inspiration and planning for the future.

We spent the day doing exercises related to character voice and genre conventions, digging in on our current writing projects, and tossing ideas around for new features for the blog and future collaborations.  Stay tuned to see more here soon!

Pictured: R.A. Gates, Mattias Bergman, Karolina Bergman, Cheryl Mahoney, Kelly Haworth, Magnus Victor (back) and K. D. Blakely

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Blog Hop: To Buy or Not to Buy

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you buy all your books? If yes, do you keep them all? If no, where do you source them?

I buy almost none of my books.  Virtually everything I read comes from my local library.  I’ve said for years that I could never afford my book habit if I had to actually pay for my books.  Last year I read around a hundred books, and it was a serious drop-off from most years.

Shall we run some math?  I’d guess at least a third of what I read last year were audiobooks, which are typically more expensive than print ones.  So let’s say I got really good used book deals on the paper books and spent an average of $5 per book.  If I went the ebook route, I think that’s still realistic.  Audiobooks, I think we have to say $15 to be even faintly plausible.  So that’s…[calculator on my phone]…approximately $1,000.  I could buy a signed L. M. Montgomery book for that.  Let’s assume that a decent number of those paper books were new books I had to buy at higher prices, call it a $15 average for the paper books too, and we’re up to $1,500.  And remember, I’ve typically read twice that many books.  Some are coming off of my own shelves, especially when I’m reading at a higher quantity, but I think we can still conservatively say that a typical year of reading, if purchased, would cost me around $2,500.  That’s most of a trip to England, right there.

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Blog Hop: Paper or Pixels?

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Have you made the switch from print to e-books? Is either one exclusive?

I am still holding out with paper books.  Too much of my life involves a screen: professionally, in my personal projects (writing, blogging, and so on) and in my entertainment (TV).  I still like looking at paper when I read.

I get it, though.  I understand the appeal of carrying many, many books in a light-weight fashion.  Right now I’m reading an 1,100 page behemoth that even in paperback has some weight to it.  I find myself less likely to wax poetic about the joy of paper and the smell of old books (although it is a nice smell) than I might have done five or ten years ago.  I feel like the big ebook vs. paper book debate has actually settled down.

People got intense when ebooks first arrived.  Now it seems like people have settled into their preferences, and ebooks have not been the death of paper books.  Which is nice.  Because I still like reading on paper instead of looking at a screen.  And I still don’t trust that digital books I buy will remain accessible as long as my paper books.

I have gone over to digital audiobooks.  And that is nice, to just download books from the library onto my phone, instantly, and carry them around.  I may get into ebooks some day, especially borrowed from the library.  But for now?  I still like paper.

Friday Face-Off: An Old World

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Time again for the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is: “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – A cover with abandoned building/s

I’m going to fudge a little bit here, because the book that immediately came to mind is The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, with the fantastic and fascinating old world of the White Queen.  There’s something about the ancient ruins of the dying world that grabbed me–but apparently not cover artists!   By contrast, I don’t even remember the flying horse that shows up on a good half of the covers out there…

This is the only cover I could find with anything at all of the White Queen’s ruined palace, and frankly it doesn’t look remotely the way I pictured it.  I was seeing more marble and sandstone, and smoother, grander structures than this.  More ancient Rome, less Middle Ages.

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Top Ten “Tuesday” – Bookish Couples

I love Top Ten Tuesday and rarely post for it–but this seemed like a perfect topic for Valentine’s Day!  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, with a new topic each Tuesday.  This week, it’s romance.

I wandered through my bookshelves, and pulled out a stack with my favorite romances in them–with a few bonus bromances and womances.  In no particular order…

1) The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
Arabella and Turnip – I’ve written at length about these delightfully unconventional romantic leads, who are overlooked by everyone but each other.

2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane and Mr. Rochester – I know he has some serious problems…but Bronte punishes him so thoroughly and humbles him so completely that by the end of the book I really believe their romance.  And the last section is rather adorable.

3) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Catherine Morland and Mr. Tilney – Mr. Darcy is the famous Austen hero, but I ❤ Mr. Tilney instead.  A smiling man who reads Gothic novels and knows his muslins–what’s not to love?

4) Enchantress from the Stars by Silvia Louise Engdahl
Elana and Georyn – The only bittersweet ending on my list, a beautiful love story about two people from, literally, different worlds, who change each other forever but can’t ever be together.

5) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer:
Well, everyone – This quartet has four wonderful, engrossing love stories.  Cinder and Prince Kai were a hair behind the others; Scarlet and Wolf were as marvelous as Winter and Jacin; and my favorites were Cress and Thorne.  I have a soft spot for charming rogues with good hearts.

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