Inktober #1 – Jo Henny Wolf

  I’m late for inktober (and I probably won’t draw every day), but better late than never? I have to get used to my pens again. (What are shadows???)

Source: Inktober #1 – Jo Henny Wolf

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Review Quickie: Uprooted

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AAAAAAAAHHHHHH What do I do with my life now that I’ve finished this book?!!?!?!

My daughter once said after reading Red Queen that she never wanted to read another book, because what if the next story would replace the feels she now had? – Now I understand that sentiment. I want to stay in the world of Uprooted for a little longer, I want to feel the story and stay immersed in the magic. I don’t want to leave.

Uprooted is just beautifully written, with a rich atmoshere and palpable magic, and a plot that kept me turning pages without stopping for breath. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

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Up next in the series of Twisted Fairytales

Which fairytale is going to be the next in my series of twisted fairytales? Durwin, a side character from Salt needs his own tale.

Now that Salt is finally out, it’s time for me to get on with the next twisted fairytale — after all, I want this to be a series. I have a short list of fairytales I want to write, but as all of them are rather dark and in the realms of erotic horror, none of them seems a good fit for a continuation of what I started with Salt. Especially not since I want the next story to revolve around Durwin, Aiden’s gruff and rough man in Salt. He’s a difficult character to begin with, so I don’t want to put him into a story that makes him fully irredeemable and unlikeable — only a little. After all, I’m all here for complex and complicated characters.

Since there is no story on my list that is a good fit for Durwin, I spent the last days searching a home for him in another fairytale, and I think I found the right one. Apart from being not too dark, the story had to fulfill other conditions as well: I don’t want to lose any momentum I may be able to build up by writing in a completely different niche, so apart from having kinky bdsm elements, it also has to be hetero (I’m so sorry, I promised my dear friend Ann to finish the lesbian fairytale I started forever ago… I will do that next!) and predominantly mdom. I hate to limit myself too much in terms of what to write, but I also have to eat, so there is that. Additionally, I don’t want to tell the ever same stories that are repeated over and over again, so Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are out.

#retelling not repetition

I get the draw of those stories, I do. They’re familiar, like your favorite pair of sweatpants, cozy and worn in and you know them inside out. On one hand, this makes it easier to get an “oh wow what a twist” effect, because they’re everyone’s favorite sweatpants, and people see it instantly when there’s something different about them. So it’s much easier to get the “oh clever” reaction this way. On the other hand – there’s hardly a twist that hasn’t been done, so it’s difficult to come up with something new and exciting. It’s hard.

With fairytales that are are a little more obscure and not on the forefront of everyone’s childhood memories, it’s harder to create the big revelatory wow-moment (provided that’s what you’re after) when dressing them up in a new way. But then, everything about them is new and exciting, and it’s even more satisfying if someone does find the easter-eggs and meta-moments in your stories. Salt, for example. It’s a retelling of the Love like Salt trope: folktales of Aarne-Thompson types 923 and 510. One of its iterations can be found in Shakespeare’s King Lear. That’s where Delia’s name comes from: Lear’s daughter Cordelia. In the play, she’s courted by the King of France.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s account History of the Kings of Britain written in the 12th century, she’s said to have married the king of the Franks after Lear banished her. In Shakespeare’s play, he doesn’t get a name, but legend/history (which, to be fair, is nebulous since it’s far back in the past and also part of 12th century legitimization fiction identifies him as King Aganippus of the Franks. Now, that name is a mouthful, so I passed on naming my male main character after said king. Instead, I named his horse after this king of the Franks. But that’s just a little anecdote on the side.

#reexamining the fairytale

Back to Durwin and his fairytale. He’s not only a gruff grumbler, he’s also very much anti-fae, so I want his story to force him to reexamine his stance on this matter. I didn’t find a tale that would force him to get over himself by falling in love with a fairy, but I found the next best thing: a werewolf.

The tale I’m talking about is The She-Wolf, a Croatian fairytale found in A. H. Wratislaw’s Sixty Folk-Tales from Exclusively Slavonic Sources (London: Elliot Stock, 1889), pp. 290-291. It’s a story of Aarne-Thompson type 402, Animal brides, and it’s relatively short:

Once Upon a Time there was an enchanted mill haunted by a she-wolf. One day a soldier went there to sleep and watched from a hiding place how the wolf came and took off its skin, turning into a woman. When she lied down to sleep, the soldier took away her skin and nailed it to the mill wheel. Then he woke the woman (shouting at her!).

She woke up in fear and called for her skin, but since it was nailed to the mill wheel, it didn’t come to her. And then — I kid you not, there is no in between, it’s literally the next sentence! — the pair married and had two children. But the woman was always unhappy, for she used to be a wolf. One day her son, who’d heard about the story, asked the father if it was true, and the father told him where the wolf skin was. The son told this to his mother, who thanked him for rescuing her and took off with her skin to never be seen again.

#it’s all about the ellipsis

Now, this story has a huge dubcon factor to it, with the soldier stealing the wolf skin and forcing her to be something she is not. And the fact that she disappears as soon as she learns where he keeps her skin points strongly into the direction of forced marriage and marital rape. So why would I choose this story as less dark than the other ones on my list (stories like Bluebeard, The Robber Bride, or Hänsel and Gretel)? It’s all in that empty space between the soldier waking the wolf and them marrying.

It’s a lot like Kleist’s The Marquise of O. who’s rescued from an attack but then, while unconscious, is raped by her rescuer and finds herself pregnant with no idea who did it. The rape of the Marquise happens within the space of a dash; just like this dash, the possibilities in The She-Wolf lie in the ellipsis.

However, I’m not going to turn this into a rape story. Durwin is a rough character, yes, and there will (probably) be rough sex, but I will figure out a way to make the story less rape-y. The beautiful thing about fairytale retellings is that I can take the bare bones of a tale and shape it into a new story that reflects on the problematic aspects of its source material. For this, The She-Wolf offers a lot of room, and I’m absolutely positive that I can turn a 1 1/2 page story into a 40 -50K book.

What do you think? Are there any stories you want to see twisted? Let me know in the comment section!

Source: Up next in the series of Twisted Fairytales – Jo Henny Wolf

Onwards

After a sort-of-timeout of three years, it’s time to get back on track. I learned a lot in that time, and to be completely honest, I don’t feel ready yet to leave my seclusion. If it was only for me, I would keep writing and posting stories for free on my fandom blog. The publishing process scares me. The thought of actually submitting a manuscript to a publisher terrifies me, and so I keep putting it off. As long as I don’t submit anything, I’m not in any danger of rejection, and I can still cling to my dream of one day. But I am not alone, it’s not only me. I have a real life with real responsibilities, in this case a family in need of a new car. Which means, I need to start making some money. Not a lot, thankfully. Just a little.

I need a plan.

Since I’m so scared of submitting my work to agents or publishers, and I generally like being my own boss, I’m going to take the self-publishing route. At least for a little while. Which brings me right back to my need for a plan. I once took a project management class at university, but I guess I forgot a lot of that stuff, and it’s been a while. But it can’t hurt to make a list so as to visualize the things I need to do in order to reach my goals.

My goals could be divided in long term and short term goals; the latter are smaller and probably easier to achieve, whereas the former involve a lot of work, dedication and practice. Of course the immediate goals require work too, but they’re easier to realize. My passion, of course, lies with my long term goals. I have dreams, and I’m pursuing them.

For now, though, the first step on my way will probably be to finish the stories I’m working on. I won’t need a website or a mailing list if I don’t have the content to go along with it. It’s necessary to learn about publishing and marketing, but it all starts and ends with writing. So back to the keyboard.

(But hey, I’m a procrastinator par excellence, so I guess I’m going to make that list first…)

Counting Accomplishments

Camp NaNoWriMo, day one: I didn’t feel the typical NaNoWriMo-Anticipation yesterday, but I feel it today. I couldn’t sleep, so I read two chapters of my WIP and decided what to change, what to add, what to delete. I may have forgotten what it was, but I trust my brain enough to recognise it again when I read it.

I changed my wordcount-goal last minute from 80K (complete work, counting in the 63K I’ve already written) to 20K (that I actually have to write to reach 80K).

Since I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, I measure my works in words. It may be more accurate or meaningful to count pages, but I feel much more satisfied counting words. My sense of accomplishment tells me, that 5000 words are more than 10 pages. (I don’t know if 5K translate actually to 10 pages, or 20, but that doesn’t matter now). And I love the satisfaction it creates, when I export my 60-something-K to manuscript pages and see full of amazement, how much I actually wrote! That’s part of my reward at the end.

So, do you prefer to count pages or words? And why?