Check out the awesome cover for the fourth Sorcerous Moons book!! It releases Tuesday, January 24, but you can preorder at a few retailers. The blurb:
An Enemy Land
Once Princess Oria spun wicked daydreams from the legends of sorceresses kidnapped by the barbarian Destrye. Now, though she’s come willingly, she finds herself in a mirror of the old tales: the king’s foreign trophy of war, starved of magic, surrounded by snowy forest and hostile strangers. But this place has secrets, too—and Oria must learn them quickly if she is to survive.
A Treacherous Court
Instead of the refuge he sought, King Lonen finds his homeland desperate and angry, simmering with distrust of his wife. With open challenge to his rule, he knows he and Oria—the warrior wounded and weak, the sorceress wrung dry of power—must somehow make a display of might. And despite the desire that threatens to undo them both, he still cannot so much as brush her skin.
A Fight for the Future
With war looming and nowhere left to run, Lonen and Oria must use every intrigue and instinct they can devise: to plumb Dru’s mysteries, to protect their people—and to hold fast to each other. Because they know better than any what terrifying trial awaits…
This week on the blog, we’re featuring the pets of the SFF Seven. Come on over to see my pretties.
This gorgeous Cooper’s Hawk was hanging out for a while outside our bedroom window this morning. They feed on smaller birds and this one had a great stake-out point overlooking the path the quail take most days.
A long time ago, back when I was in grad school, I made extra money tutoring athletes. This was at a university with a substantial and competitive sports program. On weeknights, the department sponsored tutoring for the athletes from 9pm to 11pm, and paid us $10/hour. I’d go there 2-3 nights/week and hang out, do my own work if no one came by and needed me. I was the math and science go-to specialist.
I liked doing it. Teaching math and science did a lot to clarify my own understanding – and it could be fun to go back to more basic algebra and geometry. A lot of these guys were in pretty basic math classes, and had to maintain certain GPA levels to keep their athletic scholarships. They were also generally sweet and grateful for the help. Though sometimes offended if I didn’t know who they were. More than one superstar couldn’t believe I’d never been to one of the basketball or football games.
Early in the semester, in particular, it was a pretty sweet job. I earned $20 to sit there and study for my own classes.
But, toward the end of the semester, I’d get really busy. Inevitably these guys would show up a week before the final exam, determined to do well on it, so they could get a B or C – whatever they needed to keep their scholarship.
And the first thing I’d have to do is show them the math. Not the math for the final, but for calculating their grade. Let’s say they’d had four exams for the class, including the final, each equally weighted. If they’d failed the first three exams – let’s say with a 50 out of 100, though it was often less than that – then even if they got a perfect 100 on the final, they’d come out of the class with a 62.5 average. Not a B or C in any universe, unless the professor graded on a curve. Which, in these classes, they never did.
These were never easy conversations to have – and often they didn’t believe me. Maybe it had to do with a mindset of team sports – that it was somehow always possible to rally at the end and win.
In many things, it is.
In others, well… a big effort at the end, no matter how sincere, is sometimes not enough to make up for the past.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. Especially because it feels not optimistic, to realize that past performance means we cannot possibly succeed with the current project.
But there’s a restfulness, too, to abandoning a doomed effort. With these guys, I’d have them talk to the athletic director, to set up probation and get them set up to retake the class the following semester. I’d tell them to come see me from the very beginning of the semester and I’d help them through it.
Some of them would. Some of them learned from past mistakes and did better the next time around.
That’s why I like the idea of intelligent persistence. We laud persistence – I certainly do – but sometimes that’s not all that’s needed. Intelligent persistence means knowing when to change up the approach, when to retreat to fight another day, another way.
Sometimes, that’s what you have to do.
I nearly forgot! (Okay, I *did* forget, then came back and added this.) THE FORESTS OF DRU, book 4 of the Sorcerous Moons series is available for pre-order on Amazon!!
Okay, so… the cover for THE FORESTS OF DRU isn’t *quite* ready, but here’s a teaser. You guys, it’s so pretty!! The good news is that the book is up for preorder now!! Just at Amazon so far, but the rest will be coming. Release date is January 24 for sure!
Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Burning Bridges: Killing Off Characters in Your Fiction As a Plot Point. Come on over to hear my story about this.
Yes, this is a leftover Christmas pic, but I just dug it out of my camera and loved it. I was out taking sunset pics and noticed Jackson watching me from the window. I didn’t realize at the time how I caught the reflected sunset, along with my own. So much of what I love about my home in this one photo.
I’ve been mulling lately about the trope of the Clumsy Heroine. For the most part, I don’t want to call out specific books (though I’m sure you can think up several offhand), but I will cite Twilight as a well-known example. For the record, I’m a fan of Twilight. In fact, I blogged just last week about my reasons why.
Bella, the heroine of the series, begins the first book as ridiculously clumsy. To the point that this is one of the most frequently leveled criticisms of the book. Even those of us who love the book and series roll our eyes over that. She’s so clumsy that she staggers into life-threatening danger at every turn – requiring the hero, Edward, to repeatedly save her. It gets so bad that you begin to wonder why she didn’t get killed playing in traffic before the age of five.
Now, Bella is irritating to many readers for a number of reasons, most of which have to do with her not feeling like a fully formed human being. She’s subject to the vicissitudes of fate, not an assertive person, seems like a puppet at times. There are arguments that she’s “empty” because she’s essentially an avatar for the reader. The reader inserts herself – and her own personality – into the glove that is the protagonist. Arguably this is part of what makes the book and series so compelling. But what about the clumsiness – what purpose does that serve?
I’m going to suggest that making a heroine clumsy is shorthand for creating a character who has not yet come into her evolved state. She hearkens back to the stage that most of us go through, that awkward adolescence where we seem to be able to do nothing right, whether we’re blessed with physical coordination or not. Even in the naturally athletic types, the growth spurts of our teen years can create situations where our limbs out pace the nervous system, creating dissonance in movement.
Another way of saying clumsy!
However, this stage doesn’t last into adulthood (if all is well) and we rarely see male protagonists with this syndrome, if ever. I did a quick survey in the SFWA chatroom – thanks all! – and the only exceptions we came up with are ones like Thomas Covenant, who has an actual chronic illness (leprosy); ones like Daniel Bruks in Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, who’s arguably only socially awkward; ones where the effect is intended to be humorous like Dirk Gently; or with the pervasive bumbling sidekick. The latter exists mainly to contrast with the ultra-competent hero.
I’d submit that readers wouldn’t tolerate a clumsy hero. So, why the clumsy heroine?
I don’t like the trope because I do think it’s shorthand for that raw emotional state of feeling inadequate. The clumsy heroine has not yet grown into graceful womanhood – despite her age – and requires (sometimes repeated) rescuing by the hero. It feels like lazy writing to me.
Does anyone LOVE the clumsy heroine thing? Clearly it’s been a successful trope, especially in romance. Arguments in favor?
It’s Make a Meme week at the SFF Seven!
That’s right. The topic is to make a meme of your favorite or least favorite thing about being an author.
Danu stacks the challenges deep, indeed.
I don’t often do “least-favorite” or pet-peeve kinds of things, but this one captures my feels this morning. Come on over to the SFF Seven to see my brilliant creation!