Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Winter's Heir Review

A price must be paid.


Elice has left behind the ice and isolation of winter. Before her is the warmth and wonder of summer with all its color and life. Adar, the young man she saved from the sea, is by her side, and his touch sends tendrils of heat where before there was only cold. 

But all is not as it seems. There are secrets hidden in the heart of summer. Secrets that could burn Elice to the ground and take the whole world with her. The decades-long war between the fairies of winter and summer has thrown off the balance of nature, leaving the world in its death throes. 

Adar believes Elice can stop the destruction—if only she will listen to him. But like the fairies’ bargains, that trust comes with a cost. And the price Elice will pay will tear asunder the boundaries between dreams and family, loyalty and betrayal.

My Review: 

5 out of 5 stars

I’ve waited for the last book in the Faery Queen series forever! It doesn’t disappoint. Winter’s Heir picks up right after the events of Daughter of Winter. Adar’s identity as prince of the summer kingdom is revealed and Elice is taken to Nelay’s court to be held until her mother agrees to cease fighting. Furious at Adar, Elice refuses to believe the Sundering nonsense he warns of, but does find herself drawn to the warm and heat of summer. When a dangerous deal with the Summer Queen goes wrong, both Adar and Elice flee, attempting to stop the land from tearing itself apart. But though capable of wielding the magic of winter and summer, they don’t stand a chance against the magic’s intent to restore the Balance if they can’t learn to trust each other first.

A great ending to a stunning series. The book finishes the arc started in Winter Queen, and reveals the faeries’ master plan. The many twists and turns in the deals and counterdeals left me wondering who was trying to outmaneuver who, and who lost in the end. The descriptions were rich and pulled me into a world of uncaring magic, and the lives of people who try to navigate around it. I loved how the message of overcoming darkness has been prevalent throughout the series, and especially in this book. I also love how Argyle always portrays women of such courage and strength. Cinder and her family’s history made me realize how fortunate I am, and how many women haven’t, and still don’t have the rights I often take for granted. The ending made me cry, I was so happy for both Ilyenna and Nelay, who were manipulated into becoming who they did. Of course, life is never black and white, so there is a bit of bitterness in the end as well, a foretelling that the magic isn’t done with humanity yet.

If you like the rich description and magic of high fantasy, and spicy kisses, you’ll love the entire series.

Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Different Perspectives

The recent shootings and subsequent debates, not to mention all the other turmoil in the world, brought to mind how perspective plays such a crucial role in how we interpret what happens around us. Not one person, regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, etc., will ever have the exact same perspective, or lens, from which they view the world. Those with common backgrounds may have similar world views, but never identical.

The reason? Everyone has unique experiences, and even when similar things happen to a person, their personality means they handle it differently than the guy next door.
I’ve noticed this even in my own family; you would think since we grew up together, we’d all interpret things the same way. Man, would that have spared us so many contentious moments. It would have also led to a very dull and boring childhood and family reunions. I’m grateful for the uniqueness of each of my siblings, my mother, grandmother, and all those I call friends.
What does this have to do with writing, you may ask?

Everything.

No two characters will, or at least shouldn’t, react to a situation the same way. No two authors, though their ideas may be similar, will ever tell the same story. Because no two ever view life through the same perspective.

I recently read a great post on the Authors Think Tank that addresses how different people may view holidays. Fascinating! I started thinking about this and found it to be true in my own life.
I love Halloween. I met my husband during a Halloween carnival, so it has special meaning to me. Not to mention the awesome costumed! But I know others who hate Halloween. They find having to buy candy annoying. The dress-up aspect creeps them out. Or, some think the pagan holiday shouldn’t be allowed for religious reason. On the other hand, I find Valentine’s Day to be ridiculous. Others disagree.

It’s important to figure out how your character would respond and why. What in their background made them view a holiday, sport, particular day, or even something they encounter on a regular basis, like donuts, the way they do?

Let’s take donuts as an example, silly I know, but bear with me. 

Some people see a donut and think of cozy winter nights with some hot cocoa and yummy pastry. 
Others, perhaps a diabetic or those with celiac disease, see it as a cruel temptation, something they miss, or something that could possibly kill them. Or one person may think of the time they ate two dozen donuts on a dare, puked, and now can’t even smell the cursed things without gagging. Or, if they’re like me, you’ll wonder if it’s worth adding to the baby fat I have yet to lose. ;) No two people will see, or even smell, a donut and respond the same.

Do you need to know whether your character once ate two dozen donuts and now hates them before you start writing?

Absolutely not. 

But you do need to know if your character is the type who would eat two dozen donuts on a dare, or because they were never allowed one as a kid so went crazy the first time they tried one, or ate one and then had to rush to the hospital. If you know enough about what kind of person your character is, what shaped them to be that way, and can immerse yourself into their perspective, you’re well on your way to publication. There are crucial other steps, of course, but getting a character’s voice right and keeping it consistent, are key to sucking in a reader and making sure they stay hooked.

How can you do this?

Many writers swear by character interviews to get them started, like the one found here. Another tool I’ve heard about, and recently incorporated, is writing a journal entry or character synopsis, even a paragraph or two helps, for each character, major and minor. Make sure you write it as if you are that character, not the author. I’d highly recommend this method to wrap your head around the character’s voice and attitude toward events in the story. It helped me figure out my villain’s motivations for the project I’m outlining. Plus, I got to tap into my dark side!

Next, figure out what holidays, events, both personal and national/international, that elicit a strong emotional response from your character. Why do they respond that way? Did their father die Christmas Eve? Was Easter the day they got their first bike? Think about this for different seasons as well. Some are thrilled for winter, while others hate it. Why?

This why? should be something you ask all the time as you write. Why does my character feel/think that way? Why does he respond that way to each situation he faces? Why would this obstacle or setback have a negative/positive impact on him? Keep asking why and you’ll get to the heart of your character and story.

Once you know your character so well they annoy you day and night with their chatter, and yell at you when you try to write a scene wrong, and drive you bonkers, you’ll wish they never started talking. Kidding, though sleep may become scarce, embrace the journey.

If you want more information on character and their arcs, Jordan McCollum offers a ton of tips and resources on her blog.

Enjoy!


What are your best methods for developing character? Which characters have you fallen in love with, your own or someone else’s? Why?