Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Roadtrip! Best Book of September: Wintersmith

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in September?
(That's easy. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett.)

I'm glad I get the chance to gush about this author again. I've already reviewed A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett earlier in my blog, but now I get to talk about Wintersmith. It is the last book in the Tiffany Aching series.

Words can't accurately describe how much I love the world of Tiffany Aching, the little witch who single-handedly (with the help of a horde of tiny blue men) went up against a faerie queen, a body-snatching spirit, and all the freezing power of Winter himself.

I love this girl. She's level-headed, independent, loyal, and strong. She could face off against any male protagonist in YA and probably best them all. (I'd love to see her versus Harry Potter.) What I love most about her in the books is that she's the story. She's the adventurer. All the action happens with her, not to her. She's not a damsel in distress. She's not the love interest, she's the hero. (spoiler alert) In fact, in the first book, she ended up saving a Baron's son, who develops a romantic interest in her in later books.(end spoiler)

If there were more YA novels like this one, I would enjoy reading YA a lot more than I already do. I get very tired of romance (which I interpret as a love story with a dash of plot). I like things the other way around. I like plot with a dash of love story. A very small dash.

Wintersmith, like a lot of Terry Pratchett's work, takes place in Discworld. And this world is engaging, and solid, and real. (It should be. He's had a very long time to develop it.) The characters are people you'd like to sit down to tea with, and ask for tips on baking or removing stains. They're quirky, and stubborn, and authentic. They're not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. You could imagine calling on them when you're sick or have a problem you can't tell anyone else.

I'm drawn to characters like that. They're so well-developed you'd swear the author met them on the street and spent years getting to know them just so he could put them in his novels.

As for this novel, Wintersmith has more romance in it than the other Tiffany Aching books. But Tiffany is older than she was, and she's drawing the attention of boys - even icy ones. The plot revolves around her struggle to become a better witch and to fend off the advances of a very stubborn love interest. The seasons are in need of her help, and if she doesn't act quickly it could be Winter forever.

Of course she enlists the Nac Mac Feegle (violent smurfs in kilts), whether she knows it or not, and they come to her aid. They add a very entertaining element to the story, and I've grown to adore the angry, hairy little warriors. I end up grinning like an idiot everytime they turn up.

I applaud Pratchett's style of writing. It's easy to read, and has a very distinctive voice. Not to mention he writes the dialects of his characters so well that you want to read them aloud. I found myself quoting his characters, or occasionally muttering "Crivens!" after I'd read these books.

I was fangirling so hard over these books (and the author, in general) that I couldn't wait to find others who shared my interest. So far I haven't spoken to any, but I know they're out there. Terry Pratchett wouldn't have become a favorite in the fantasy genre if they weren't.

I will tell you that if you don't appreciate Pratchett's sometimes dark, sometimes satirical, and always British, humor, then you might not enjoy these books as much as I do. I, personally, love it. - I also love his version of Death, who seems like a rather pleasant fellow, in spite of what you might think.

If you like to laugh and do appreciate British humor, definitely pick up a Pratchett novel. I'd highly recommend the Tiffany Aching series. The delight and life lessons in those books will linger with me for a long time.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dance Mix for Rejection

Today I heard back from the agent who was at the top of my query list. (You know, your first choice. The one that you really hope will say 'yes' to your manuscript, that you hope will offer to represent you.) After corresponding with her for over a year, after sending her my manuscript, after hoping and praying and crossing my fingers, I got a rejection. She said my work was solid, but it wasn't what she'd hoped. She said she wasn't the right agent for me. Then she referred me to another agent, and told me I could use her name when I query. So, while the rejection hurt and made me a little angry, it led to something equally good. New hope.

Whether you've had only a handful of rejections or a hundred, you know how it feels to read those words "no, thank you". You doubt yourself, you question if you really showed your best work, you think "What could I have done better?" Then, eventually, you just accept it and move on. For me it helps to have music - dance music. So, here's the playlist I listened to after I got that email today.

Release Me - Agnes
Bulletproof - La Roux
Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) - Freemasons with Sophie Bextor
If I Can't Dance - Sophie Bextor
Rain (show opening remix) - Mika
Written in the Stars - Tinie Tempah ft. Eric Turner
Could You Believe - ATB (radio edit)
Brand New Day - Andy Caldwell (12" mix)
Love Today - Mika
Kick A** (We Are Young) - Mika

Remember, don't give up, even if your first choice says no. There are plenty of other agents out there.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bone Density and Battery Death - Good Fridays

Good Fridays are when I mention one or two things that made my Friday good. Fridays are always good, but certain things make them better. This Friday I have a little story for you!

I went to a ladies health fair with my mom and older sis this morning. (I love that we're so close, we still go out and do things) They tested things like blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and bone density. Congrats to me! My bone density is still low, but not as low! Yaaaay! And it's only been a year of taking more calcium to help build it up! (bit of sarcasm. Why does it take so long to build calcium?)

I was taking mom's car to the gas station and the bank, and the battery died at the gas station. So I had to walk home and get my car. When I finally got to the bank, it was closed. I was about to deposit my paycheck so I wouldn't go in the red (again). Now I'll have to deposit it Saturday. At least no checks I've written will go through before then. Probably.

That has been my Friday, but here is the bit of it that gets good. The walk home from the gas station helped with my bone density!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

In Search of Magic

Humans search for magic, whether they realize it or not. Magic in a pretty face, in a fast car, in movies, books, travel, the wonders of nature. We search for magic in beautiful things, architecture, music, works of art. We're always looking for something to take us out of ourselves, to inspire us, and to make us better than we are. We're looking for an experience that will bring the wonder back.

When we were children, most of us played make believe. We pretended we were superheroes, or fairy princesses, rock stars or intrepid adventurers. As we grew up, that all faded into the mundane tasks adults have to do. But the magic didn't go away. The fortunate few of us able to tap into it became the torch-bearers. We were selected to create beautiful, wonderful things so that others can experience magic again.

The magic I'm referring to is that awed childhood feeling of joy and happiness at experiencing something incredible. That momentary slip from the everyday into another world. We feel it when we fall in love, and the world suddenly becomes a beautiful place. We feel it when we get a promotion or buy a new car, and the future at once is wide and open. But promotions and new cars don't come along everyday. And love doesn't always reach our expectations. That's why we look for magic in things we can control, experiences encapsulated in movies, books, music concerts, theater productions.

That's why artists and writers are so important. It's up to us to preserve the magic, and send it out into the world so that everyone can have a taste of it, and remember what it feels like.

It can be in the look of a tantalizing stranger, the exhilaration of a midnight flight, the thrill of reciting a magical spell and seeing it work. We become powerful and beautiful and exciting. The troubles of school, college, work, no longer bother us.

Artists and writers have a great opportunity. People are looking for magic, and we can provide it. So, we'd better give them our very best.


Did you feel magic in a book you read or a movie you watched recently? Do you have any comments you'd like to share?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tasty Cover Art - Roadtrip Wednesday

It's Roadtrip Wednesday!

This Week's Topic:

What are your all-time favorite book covers?

Being an illustrator first, a writer second, book covers have long been a wonderful part of reading for me. Images can say more about a book than any well-crafted blurb ever could, and entice me to read a book I might otherwise pass over. Here are a few of my favorites.

If done right, butterflies and moths on covers rock, without being 'girly'. I love the colors in this one, too.

I just love keys, especially antique, uniquely designed ones. This cover in person has raised text and shiny silver embellishment. Not to mention, black, silver and blue are good spooky, wintry colors.

Keeping with the shiny theme, this cover has a wonderful illustration, sparkles, and the tastiest green color scheme. I couldn't help but pick it up (more than once) from the shelf at the library before I finally added it to my growing 'to read' pile.

This is another book I couldn't help but pick up more than once. I've already raved over this cover in past entries, but I couldn't resist raving again. Yay for creepy, atmospheric cover art!

I love both of these covers for different reasons. The first I love for its traditional pen-and-ink design. The twisted trees and leafy details, as well as the pastel color scheme, are elegant. Very Victorian, like the illustrations of old storybooks. The second I love for its color and impact. Flat, lineless, vector-style illustration has incredible pop appeal. (my favorite has to be the first, though)

What are your favorite book covers?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Villainous Themesongs - The Strawman

And the time that I will suffer less, is when I never have to wake...

Ever have a song that just inspires you? For me it's Portishead's Wandering Star, redone by Kid Beyond here. This is the perfect song for the Strawman, the villain from my novel, so I couldn't resist drawing him. When the muse speaks, you just have to listen.

It feels good to produce art again. Hope you enjoy this messy, fun bit of scary fluff.


Please could you stay awhile to share my grief
For its such a lovely day
To have to always feel this way
And the time that I will suffer less
Is when I never have to wake

Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever
Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved
The blackness of darkness forever

... Those who have seen the needles eye, now tread
Like a husk, from which all that was, now has fled
And the masks, that the monsters wear
To feed, upon their prey

Does your main character or villain have a themesong?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Diss Dystopian

Welcome to the crappy, scary future. Here's your gun. Hope you survive!

That would be a great enticement if you wanted me to play a pc game (like Fallout 3), but to read a YA novel? I don't think so. I'm escapist by nature and that's just not the type of place I'd like to escape into.

So, when I hear the words 'dystopian YA' I want to run the other way fast. I think part of the reason I'm wary of dystopian is that it's so huge right now. When a sub-genre gets so popular that every agent wants it, and it's clogging computers and piling up on desks, I begin to doubt the quality of what's being published. I also worry that anything not dystopian will be swept under the rug and agents won't give it a second glance. That's not true, though.

Because of the huge influx of dystopian YA, a lot of agents are saying "No more!" and are looking for something different. It's not the genre's fault. Everyone just jumped on its bandwagon. Writers were savvy and realized it's what's selling and it's popular. Now the market is stuffed full of 'dystopian' this and 'paranormal' that, and some readers are growing sick of it.

It's a tough thing to navigate bookstores today - if you don't particularly like dystopian, and paranormal romance. A lot of books lately boast black and red covers, skeleton trees, or full moons. While I like all these things, the sheer volume of them is daunting. It's easy to pass over a good book when it's lost among so many others of the same genre. (I've had this trouble with fantasy for years.) It's also increasingly harder to make your particular book stand out.

The thing is, not all writers write dystopian because it's popular. Just like not all writers write paranormal romance (werewolves and vampires) because it's popular. Also, not all writers think 'paranormal' automatically means vampires and werewolves. It's just that that's what you see crowding bookstore shelves lately.

So, I pose a challenge. I'd love to have my mind changed about dystopian YA, but I don't know where to start. If you know a great dystopian book you'd like to recommend, please post it in the comments. I will choose at least one of the recommendations and post a blog entry of the review once I've read it, along with the name of the person who recommended it to me. To show my appreciation, I'll even link to your blog if you have one.

If no one recommends anything to me, I'll choose a book on my own, but it might take a lot longer to find.

My Fairy Fae

What images does your mind conjure when you hear words such as 'dark fae'? How about 'faeries'? Or even 'fairytale'?

Most of us, when we hear the word 'fairy' tend to think of pixies or sprites, little winged faeries. There's nothing strange or scary about them. Often they're just tiny beautiful women with butterfly wings. The same way that angels are depicted as lovely human-sized women with white, feathery wings and gold halos.

This has driven me crazy since I became old enough to look up faeries for myself. I discovered so many variations from so many cultures, it made my head spin! There is more to faeries (the fae, the sidhe, the Good Neighbors, the Fair Folk) than Tinkerbell.

While they're only a myth, they're such an interesting myth that it's a shame to present only one aspect of them in books. Lately I've discovered some great adult and YA fantasy novels that breathed fresh air into the worn-out concept that all faeries are tiny, winged women who grant wishes. The fae in these stories were seldom tiny, seldom had wings, and only granted wishes if it would do nasty things to the wisher. That's when I officially fell in love with the fae.

I discovered that 'fae' included anything magical and often connected with nature. This meant fauns such as Puck in a Midsummer Night's Dream, the Lady of the Lake in the Arthurian legends, and even Jareth the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth. Yet, popular culture still persists in depicting faeries in a single scope.

This is why I decided that my novels would include faeries - not Tinkerbell faeries, but faeries of all sizes and types. Good faeries, bad faeries, goblins, faerie fiddlers, royal fae, tiny fae, and hairy-legged goat fae. There are just too many myths withering away not to take advantage of them.

The novels that made me fall in love with faeries include:

The Dreaming Tree, by C.J. Cherryh

The Stolen Child, by Keith Donohue

The Replacement, by Brenna Yovanoff

What about you? What are your impressions of faeries in pop culture? Do you have any favorite faerie books?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Highly Opinionated - Writer Chatrooms

This was going to be a Good Fridays post, but instead I have decided to briefly discuss something bad, good, and opinionated - writer chatrooms. They're bad for some people, good for others, and opinionated all the time.

Last night I had an upsetting experience in a writer-type chatroom (that I won't name here). When a soft person like me runs into a lot of hard people, I have to pick pieces of myself up off the floor for awhile. After that experience, I decided to share with you a couple writer chatrooms that are guaranteed not to hurt a new chatter's feelings, and still provide a setting to discuss writing with fellow writers.

First and foremost is Writers Chatroom . It's open twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday night), has guest speakers Sunday Nights, and encourages respect toward all chatters. It's run by Audrey Shaffer, Lisa Haselton, and Sally Franklin Christie, and ranks on Writers Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers.

The second is the chatroom for Absolute Write. It's a casual, fun chatroom with kind mods and a no-pressure atmosphere. It can be accessed through IRC (#absolutewrite) or Java (Here's the Java Chat Link). Mostly it's there if you just have to gab to your writer friends about a great (or not-so-great) writing day. The Absolute Write forums are an excellent source of encouragement, advice and critique. They're also a good source of socializing if you need more writer friends.

Remember, going into any writing chatroom, their experiences are not yours, and they have no say over your goals and dreams. All they can offer you is advice. If you have specific writing or publishing questions, try Writers Market or Publishers Market, the Savvy Authors website, etc. I am always adding new links to my Writing Links page, so check there, as well.

Happy chatting!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wishes, Worlds and Weird - Roadtrip Wednesday

This week's Road Trip Wednesday Topic: What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

It's always always fantasy. I have difficulty not writing fantasy. It's actually painful, and boring. The boring is what makes it so painful.

That said, I also write about wishes, and dreams... a lot. There's something about the things we hope will happen, that we dream of happening, that we wish for, that intrigues me. It's always better, always prettier, always richer, than our lives are now. Most of the time it's unrealistic, and would never happen, even if we had our own fairy godmothers. But, still we do it. Why? Because it helps us endure when life isn't better, isn't pretty, and isn't rich. It's our human way of coping. We also always seem to believe that what we wish for would be good for us.

And that brings me to the second reason I love wishes. They can come true in very bad ways for characters in a story. A wish coming true could be the best thing that could happen, or it could be the just desserts a particular character needs. "Be careful what you wish for" doesn't just apply to the characters either. Readers can get their wish for a character to die, and by the time he does, the reader may sympathize with him and wish he wasn't dead.

Another very large element that I can't seem to get away from in any of my stories is other worlds. I'm a world-builder at heart. Everything - flora, fauna, races, terrain, bodies of water, culture, society, politics - I have to build it all! And most of the time, I have to build it for every new story I create. (...I have a tendency to make things a lot more complicated than they probably should be.) I can't have just one book. I have to have a series! I have to have lands and customs, and cities with weird names! I have to dive into innate abilities and magic phrases, enchanted items, fantastical weapons. It's like an addiction. I have to immerse both myself and my readers in my new world, and relish the escape like a jungle explorer!

There are many other elements that crop up in stories, but the last one I'll mention in this entry is the weird. One or more of my characters, my setting, my plot, has to be 'weird'. It has to deviate from the norm, be more than what you expect, be strange-looking or outright ugly. My main character in
Lividia: A Shadow Story is not beautiful, she's odd. She's appealing in an otherworldly way. You wonder "Why?" about her.

Something that used to surprise me about my work is that it doesn't take long for a villain to become the focus of the story when I hadn't planned for him to be. It's the weird kicking in again. Villains are often more interesting to me than main characters because they have layers. So many writers forget to layer their MCs and end up with a bland, skin suit that readers can easily climb into because it doesn't have a personality of its own. I hate that. I prefer strong, quirky MCs, that you may disagree with, but at least they hold their own.

And that's the end of my Roadtrip Wednesday entry. I hope you enjoyed reading it. What are some elements, and themes you see recurring in your stories?

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Know You're Out There

...I can hear you breathing.

The stats tell me you're here and that you're reading. I'm thankful for those silent readers who take an interest in what I do. But now, this is me reaching out, into the darkness of the web to see what I bring up.

I love to write about many things - dark things, bright things, miracles, opportunities, writing, publishing, and the jungle it lives in.

Now I want to know what you'd like me to write about. Would you like to see more snippets from my story? Share your opinion about a website, a movie, a book that you like? Would you like to ask a question or suggest a topic for me to blog about next time? I'm open to all of it.

To those of you who've read from the shadows, I welcome you to comment. I already appreciate the attention you've given me. Now I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Good Fridays - The Friday/Saturday Cushion

Good Fridays is when I highlight one or two things that make my Fridays a little better. Last week it was a movie, but this week it's something bigger. This week it's the Friday/Saturday cushion. I call it that because it's a soft, relaxing time between Friday and Saturday when you can be truly glad it's Friday.

I have a great job that affords me Saturdays off, depending on my work load, but that means Saturday is the day I pack everything in that I didn't get to during the week. I run errands, do shopping, do laundry, spend time with family and wonderful nephews. And of course anything else I can think of. Saturday is a day for miscellaneous activity.

Which brings me back to the Friday/Saturday cushion. My Friday/Saturday cushion is the time between getting off work on Friday and the time I start all my running around on Saturday. The Friday/Saturday cushion varies for everyone. One person's cushion can start at 5 or 6pm and another's can start after the kids have gone to sleep, but everyone has one. What matters is what you choose to do with it. You should pick an activity that you love and find relaxing, something that makes you happy. (I'm using part of my cushion to type this blog.)

Give yourself permission to relax, to stop worrying just for a little while. Just be happy and enjoy yourself. Here's a song to get you started:


For commenters, what are some of the things you do during your Friday/Saturday cushion?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pure Imagination - YA Roadtrip Wednesday Picks

"Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic." - YA Highway

So, for a handful of reasons - work, church, writers chatroom - I missed the entire day of Roadtrip Wednesday. Even though I missed Wednesday, I couldn't let this great topic pass me by. So, I wrote about it anyway!

This week's topic was: What non-YA character would you love to see star in a YA book as themselves? So, I thought awhile, read some of the other bloggers' picks, and found out that at least one of them had picked the same one as me!

The first I'd love to see in a YA novel as himself is:

The Doctor

I mean, he's already playful and childish in a lot of ways, sometimes bumbling, but he's also brilliant and brave. (And I've been watching a lot of him through Netflix lately.) I'd love to see what he was like BEFORE he was the last Timelord alive, and before all the bad happened to his race and his world. A teenage Doctor would be loads of fun to read. And, of course, it would have to be made into a movie so we could all admire whoever they got to play him!

Because my pick was also picked by someone else, my second pick is:

Willy Wonka

Not that I don't love Tim Burton's movie just as well, but I loved Gene Wilder's version of Wonka! He was an understated kind of spooky. He was charismatic where Depp's version was more eerie and socially awkward. With Wilder's version you were never sure if he was a harmless candy-maker or a psychopathic killer who hid his victims in his factory, selling them at Easter as oversized chocolate bunnies. He was playful and giddy, but could swing to sober and volatile in an instant. He was like a faerie mad-hatter. He even had the hat!

I realize the major reason I was so charmed by the original movie was that it was Wonderland inside a factory - and it was edible! All that was missing was Alice and a few rabbits. I even loved that the children who came to visit left (eventually) as edibles themselves, or almost. Perfect irony. The spoiled, gluttonous children who eat candy become the candy that is eaten. And Wonka was their judge, jury, and executioner.

Which is why a teen Wonka would be a thing to see, indeed. The second movie gave us a glimpse into his childhood, but what happened in between? If he was really the son of a tyrannical dentist, what happened when he left home? What inspired him to travel to where the Oompa-Loompas lived? What made him decide that candy could be an art form? And... most of all, what dark monsters lurk in that curly head of his?

If you think of a character you'd love to see as a teen or young adult, mention him or her in the comments. Or you can blog about how this character would act when he was young and link to your blog entry.

The song for my blog entry today is: Pure Imagination sung by Gene Wilder

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I've been quiet the past few days. I've been hunting down writer chatrooms and more helpful writer links to post. I've been enjoying the lovely rainy weather, and the snap of fall creeping up on us. Actually it's more like falling on us like a rain slicker, bringing its yellow leaves, chilly mornings, and earthy smells with it. I love Fall.

Since I discovered the chatrooms on the Forward Motion forum, the other authors there have stirred me up. I've been thinking of the reason why I love my genre, and most of all, my subject matter.

My story is like the Fall, it was written in the Fall, and it takes place in the late Fall/early Winter. Fall is change, it is inspiration, it is Summer's last triumph before the winter chill sets in. It's the start of a school year, the end of lazy hot days, the time when you have to pull your bootstraps up.

People get down to business in the Fall. They have to, because Winter takes no prisoners - at least that's the way it used to be. Now, we have grocery stores and online shopping, but we still have snow and nasty weather. We still feel like we have to pull our bootstraps up. There's something about the Fall that feels old, timeless, like we haven't shaken off the instincts that have kept us alive so long. Even with all our advancements, our technology, the seasons still hold sway at the core of us.

Fall is a time of preparation. It's a time of getting ready. Living in the midwest, in farmland, I understand this well. Farmers gather crops they've watched grow through the Summer, and we celebrate with festivals to eat what they've gathered. It's harvest-time, and there's this tingle of excitement in the air. There's an impulse to be busy. We don't have much time.

My story feels like this too. Lividia doesn't have much time. Winter is coming, the cold seeping into her big, stone house and whistling down the hallways. She's female in a Victorian man's world, but she's more than that. Soon she discovers just how much more. Suddenly her world doesn't hold as much appeal, her family has grown too small for her, and there's so much beyond that she needs to discover, or she just can't be happy.

Change. Lividia's on the cusp of something great, and even I can feel it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Help! What Did I Write?

This week has been stuffed with querying agents - last week too. I've researched, read, chatted, questioned, and queried my brains out - but I didn't just do it at random. With all that reading and researching I looked for exactly the kind of agent I would like to represent my work and me. And in doing so, I realized... I don't know exactly how to classify my writing.

For each agent I queried, I tailored my query letter to get their specific attention, to tickle their particular fancy. If they liked a certain subject, genre, well-known personality, I mentioned it. If I was afraid they would pass on my manuscript because I used words that turned them off, I didn't use them.

Some agents like mainstream, high-concept, and some agents like niche and literary. I don't know if my novel can be high-concept, but I certainly learned how to chop my synopsis down to a paragraph!

Now, I'm exhausted, dazed, and slightly confused. I thought I knew what I was writing when I wrote it. But then I entered the world of publishing and agents, and I'm baffled. So I decided to ask myself a few questions.

Is my book about a girl who learns to rely on herself? Yes.
Is my book about vampires and werewolves? No.
Is my book paranormal? - It depends on how you define paranormal. (and some agents don't like paranormal because of the vampires and werewolves!)
Does it have ghosts? No and Yes.
Does it have supernatural elements? Yes.
Does it have faeries? Yes.
Is it a fairytale? No, and Yes.
Is it modern? No.
Is it urban romance? Definitely not.
Is it romance at all? No.
Is it women's fiction? No.
But the MC is a girl? Yes.
Is there a love interest? Yes.
More than one? Maybe.
Does the MC fall in love in the first book? - No spoilers please!
Does the love interest save the MC from certain death? Maybe.
Does the MC save the love interest? Yes.
Are there monsters? Yes.
Is there a mystery? Yes. More than one.
Does someone die? Maybe.
Are there miracles? Yes.
Is there magic? Yes.

Basically, it would be a romance, if Lividia felt romantic, and she doesn't. It would be a fairytale if Lividia was a princess and a prince came to save her, but she isn't and he doesn't. She has to save herself. This is more like the grisly old fairy tales where witches eat children and ugly step-sisters mutilate their feet to fit into tiny shoes. Only, Lividia isn't going to mutilate anything to fit in. It isn't a witch trying to eat the children, but I'm not going to say any more than that.

I have always felt that this story (and those after it) are genre-crossers. They don't fit just one. It's more than a fantasy, a mystery, a paranormal faerie what-have-you. But I don't yet know how to explain that to an agent.
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