Monday, June 30, 2014

Heartless Girls and What My Novel Taught Me About Feminism

Lividia and her Boogeyman
Since I started this last series of revisions for A Shadow Story, my subconscious has been working overtime to help me produce the best work possible. My research has made me keenly aware of the mistreatment of women throughout history and today. In my book, Lividia faces an engagement she's deeply opposed to for several reasons, but her fiance is tenacious and her father has final say. My brain (which is smarter than I am) has been pointing out to me instances in other books, movies, and real life that draw a direct parallel to her situation.

The last book I read showed me how to make an admirer so repellant to a reader that the reader hopes for escape more than the MC herself. After reading this book, I realized how disgusted I am at the concept of the captured bride. I became even more aware of how the captured bride is similar to the abusive boyfriend in so much YA lit. (The only difference is the captured bride puts up a fight.) If you're not familiar with the abusive boyfriend, it's the surly bad-boy who treats the girl like crap, but the girl is weakened by his charm to the point she won't stick up for herself. (I hate this trope as much as I hate the whiny female MC pining over the guy who doesn't know she exists.)

I've learned a lot about my book by reading other books. I've learned what to do and what not to do, and I've learned I have a lot to revise and improve upon. But with Lividia, who I'm getting to love as dearly as a good friend, I'm learning about the struggle between social pressures and independent thought. What she truly wants is buried so deep within her that she's never been able to properly voice it. She might not even know it herself. In this book I get to explore it with her. She challenges the status quo, battles conflicting desires, and ultimately has to turn her back on a part of herself to forge ahead down a path she's not entirely sure of. She just knows she has to take it.

I love this girl. At first she faded into the background, outshone by her cousin who was only an antagonistic secondary character, but the more I fleshed her out, the more she blossomed. (The quiet ones always take awhile.) I learned that Lividia is strong, fierce, hopeful, and brave. She's even tinged with a little apathy. Catherynne Valente uses the term "heartless" in her Fairyland books. It refers to children who can separate from their families and familiar lives without a second thought. Alice was a little heartless, and so was September. For a teenager like Lividia, it's just the independence and wanderlust that's common for so many boys, but girls aren't allowed to have. I'm hoping to add Lividia to the growing ranks of wandering, half-heartless girls.

Is your MC heartless, half-heartless or all heart? What impact does that have on your plot-line?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is It Time To Change Your Life?

Tell me where is fancy bred, 
or in the heart or in the head?
- Merchant of Venice Act 3, Scene 2

When did you know it was time to change your life?

For me it was this week. I can't say the moment it happened, or what specific thing triggered it. In fact, it was many small things all piled up to present me with the undeniable fact things had to change.

A tremendous hail storm damaged our house to the point we need a new roof and new siding. Our house is so old the contractors say we need a few new windows and two new doors. Fixing all that's wrong with it would cost a fortune. Good thing the insurance will cover the storm damage.

My coworker just quit to go on a five-month adventure with his wife to all the national parks from Ohio to Washington state, and then live there. I suddenly felt restless and left behind. I took a look at my job and realized I've been there two years. Two years part-time because I wanted to work toward another career. Two years unable to afford a 'real' vacation ('real' being plane tickets someplace nice with money for a hotel and activities) because of being part-time. Two years staring at library shelves that didn't have my books on them, books that didn't have my illustrations in them.

I've been hiding, or maybe I haven't been ready. But I think I am now. This is how I know:

  1. I daydream about the career I want, not the job I have. 
  2. I'm no longer satisfied with what I'm doing.
  3. I've turned down promotions at my day-job because I was planning for this.
  4. When I think about having this career I feel happy, and it feels right.
  5. I was born to do this.

I admit, I'm afraid. I've never tried to go pro. I've balked from querying as an illustrator for over two years now. There are countless concerns I have, countless excuses holding me back, but I can't wait any longer. It's time.

Are you at a big turning point in your life, or have you been through one? What signs let you know it was time to change?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Introducing My BJD!

This is Silvan. Silvan is a ball-jointed doll (bjd) from South Korea. He's cast in thick, hollow resin and customized to fit an original character of mine. Silvan is eight years old (I've had him eight years). He's the only bjd I own. But that's about to change.

I ordered my first girl doll three months ago and am waiting for her to be shipped home. Silvan's very happy about this. He's been wanting a companion for a long time.

Sil's very popular with the ladies, but it's not the same as being with one of his own kind.

Being an only bjd has its perks. Sil's received my undivided attention (and money) since he came home.

He's experimented with fashion:

Traveled and made new friends:

Communed with nature:

And enjoyed the simple pleasures:

He's had a great life. 

But, lamentably, a solitary one. So, you can imagine how excited he is that he won't be alone anymore.

I'll be posting photos of the new doll when she arrives. Until then, Silvan sends his love.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Do You Live Up To Your Name?

I'm a firm believer in the power of names. A name is more than just its sound and assembly of letters. Once upon a time, a first name reflected the personality of the one it belonged to. It told their history, their strengths and weaknesses, their class and their heritage. A surname told your trade, whose child you were, or where you were born. Names were an important way to get to know strangers before they spoke a single word. Names were labels you either wore proudly or with shame, and you carried them with you your whole life.

When a child was given an important name, his parents expected him to live up to it. It was a prophecy for his life. His name would influence the treatment he received from others and dictate his life's direction. Children hoped for good names so they would have a head start on a great life. Their name would remind them of the potential they had, and the faith their parents had in this potential.

I have a great name.

Donelle is the feminine form of Donald, which was my father's name. It's from the Gaelic name Domhnall which means "ruler of the world". My brother and sisters have meaningful names too, but I was the one chosen to carry on this one.

Having this name is a great encouragement. Whenever I think about it and where it came from, I remember there's no dream too big, no goal too high for me to reach with God's help and my own determination.

Am I living up to the prophecy this name bestowed upon me? I'll have to say yes. And I plan to continue ruling the world, one universe at a time.

What does your name mean? Are you living up to it? 

{Click for to find out what your name means}

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