Author recommendation: Melanie Dickerson

In keeping with the topic of fairy tales, I have an author to recommend to you – Melanie Dickerson.

I discovered her books in the bookstore at the 2012 ACFW conference. I was browsing around in between workshops and not looking for anything in particular when a couple of books caught my eye. They had pretty covers and intriguing description and they had the tantalizing hint of happily-ever-afters. Plus they were a good deal since it was at the conference. So I bought them. And fell in love with them.

We’ve already established how much I love fairy tales, and you all know I write fantasy. Melanie Dickerson’s books combine both of those things. The two I’ve read so far incorporate a fairy tale theme in a Christian-based fantasy taking place in a historical type of setting with people that could be real. And don’t forget the romance! The characters are distinct and have their individual struggles and I was enthralled from the first page of both.


The Healer’s Apprentice
– Rose has been given the change to act as healer’s apprentice, despite her queasiness at the sight of blood. She’s determined to succeed in this opportunity. Her only other option is to marry a (in my opinion, disgusting) merchant who is much older than she is. Because she is in this place, she is the one who tends the future duke when he is injured. There is no way she can allow herself to fall in love with him – the young lord is betrothed already. His betrothed has been in hiding most of her life because of a threat made against her long ago.

The Merchant’s Daughter – When Annabel’s family finds themselves no longer wealthy, she ends up an indentured servant to a reclusive lord. All the rumors she’s heard of him make him out to be a frightening person. His bailiff certainly is horrible, and does nothing to hide his interest in Annabel. His advances cause more discomfort for Annabel. Over time, she comes to enjoy her time spent with Lord le Wyse, but she gets wrapped up in circumstances that could severely endanger him.

 

These are the kinds of stories I think of when I say “historical fantasy.” With the fairy tale aspect they are right up my alley. These books will appeal to readers who enjoy reading fantasy, and readers who enjoy reading historical fiction. You don’t have to like both to enjoy the stories woven in these settings. The covers are gorgeously done, too!

I have ordered Melanie Dickerson’s other books and eagerly await their arrival. Let me know what you think if you have read her stories, and if you have anything similar to recommend, do share.

“Act Like a Fairy Tale Character” Day

My friend Crystal and I were watching “Enchanted” together.

(Let me just tell you we were watching it while we were working out on the elliptical machines together at the gym. Can’t have you thinking we are lazy slackers or anything like that!)

In case you haven’t seen it, I’ll give you a quick summary. For starters, it’s a Disney movie. A young woman (Giselle) lives in a typical fairy tale land complete with talking and singing animals. She’s singing and daydreaming about a prince, who hears her voice and comes to find her and save her from a troll. In short, they meet and fall in love and he declares they will be married in the morning!

And that’s all within the first 5 minutes.

Time for a plot twist! Giselle is on her way to her wedding, in a ridiculously puffy white gown and everything is perfect. Until she meets an old woman who leads her to a wishing well. Giselle wishes for happily ever after with the contented smile that comes with knowing the wish is certain to come true. Then the old woman pushes her into this bottomless pit of a wishing well and sends her to a place where “there are no happily-ever-afters” as she tells her sidekick/minion/servant/guy. That place is here, the real world.

That’s all the information you need for my the point I’m going to make. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the movie for you, because I am a strong supporter of everyone seeing this movie, as I am for most Disney movies.

I told Crystal, “Culture shock. That’s me every time I leave my house.”

Crystal and I were joking about fairy tales and how corny they can be sometimes – especially this movie which is purposely corny at the beginning. But even while we make fun of these stories, we wish things could be that simple. If only I could have a prince show up in my life to save me from whatever danger I am in and guarantee a happily-ever-after for me. Sounds perfect, right? I have two propositions in regard to this statement.

  1. As a Christian, I can rest assured my Prince has already saved me from the danger of sin and has guaranteed a happily-ever-after for me. Because my happily-ever-after is secured by Christ, I don’t have to be concerned that it won’t happen. My hope is in the Lord, and it is the Biblical hope which means it is a confident expectation – I know it will happen because Christ has said it will!
  2. Sometimes I feel as though I am stuck in the world where “there are no happily ever afters.” But that is because I have taken my focus off Christ, I am not keeping my eyes on the prize that is set before me. When I look at the world, put my trust in people, look for a fairy-tale prince among the men of the world, it is easy to grow discouraged. I need to remember that God is the Author and Finisher of faith and stop trying to find my happily-ever-after on Earth. My treasure is in Heaven!

I am, without question, a happily-ever-after kind of girl. What an awesome thing it is to know, even while I’m still in the middle of my story, that I will have a happily-ever-after forever in Heaven with my Saviour! And it’s the same for every other Christian (even the men, although this post was clearly written from a woman’s point of view!).

Crystal and I also decided that we need to have an “Act Like a Fairy Tale Character” Day. Hey, we already have a “Talk Like a Pirate” Day, so it’s not that much of a stretch if you think of it.

I love talking about fairy tales. Who is your favorite fairy tale character and why?

Follow Your Dreams

Here’s to sailing away from safe harbor and catching the winds in our sails!

Norma D. Downing

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover. –Mark Twain

My husband and I were talking about the fact that I am finally getting a book published after all the years of writing. At times I didn’t try very hard to contact publishing companies and editors, partly because of a fear of rejection and feeling that my writing wasn’t “good enough”. My husband has always encouraged me to write and that it was good enough (even though he called my book “trash”, but that’s another story:) ), and if I had a dream I had to go after it, it wasn’t going to just fall in my lap. Well, I did go for it and…

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Pieces of ACFW magic

Judging from my writer friends’ blog posts, I am not the only one who had an incredibly magical time at the ACFW conference this year. Some got to meet Frank Peretti, ride in a limo, muffins, The Wizard of Oz, The Handle Bar, and more. Check out their blogs to see their stories.

  • Rajdeep Paulus barely made it onto her plane in time, but she did make it! Her time at the conference included an opportunity to meet Tosca Lee, ride in a limo, and eat two pumpkin muffins.
  • Lorraine Beatty tried to steal a chair from agent Chip MacGregor, and met writers of many ages from all over the world.
  • Allison Garcia had a chance to see the sights of Indianapolis, including the “Handle Bar.”

What kind of exciting, magical adventures have you had recently? Hey, even pumpkin muffins can be an adventure! It’s all in how you look at it. Haven’t had an adventure lately? Go make your own.

Contest: Who Has Visited the Most States?

My friend Allison is doing a giveaway at her blog! You could get a free book – how cool is that?

Chica Creativa

Okay, I recently traveled by car to Indiana from Virginia and visited three new states! It got me thinking that in the last 12 months, I have added six new states to my list of U.S. I believe this brings my total of states I have visited up to 22! Woot! NJ, PA, DE, CT, NY, VA, MD, WV, FL, GA, NC, SC, AZ, TX, TN, KY, IN (Indiana?), OH, IL (Illinois?), VT, MA, and AK (Arkansas?).

This (and having some extra books from the conference I’ve been to) got me thinking. I should have a contest! Who has been to the most states in the U.S.A.?

So, I will send a free book to the person who has traveled to the most states in the U.S.

Anyone can enter this contest, and I will mail you this book (even if you live outside the U.S.)! So, comment with the…

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What I learned at 2013 ACFW Conference

Three amazing days packed full of workshops, meetings, food, people, laughing, crying, books, pens, paper, and everything else a good writers’ conference includes.

This was my third ACFW conference, and it was held in Indianapolis this year. This was possibly my favorite conference (although the getting there and getting home part of it was quite an experience, but that’s another story). Robin Jones Gunn was the keynote speaker and she was beyond incredible. She is genuine and she tells stories in such a way that her listeners (and readers, I suppose) can easily relate and glean valuable information and lessons. Most importantly of all, the lesson to follow God first of all and trust in Him.

There are too many other things that I’ve learned this weekend, about writing and about myself and about life, that I couldn’t begin to list them all here. But here are a few things that stand out.

 

1. You can find names for characters in the most unlikely places.

I’m not kidding. Example? The name of the company that made the toilet paper dispensers in the restrooms. Honestly, I don’t remember what it was but I read it and thought, Dodrick. BOOM. Character name. And usually when I find a name, the character comes with it. I don’t see a name and think, “Oh, that’s a cool name, to whom can I assign it?” No. It’s more like I see the name and the character goes, “Hey! That’s ME!!!”

Same goes for setting. I can glimpse a place, or even a corner of a place, and suddenly have an idea for an entire setting.

 

2. What “Save the Cat” scene means.

Quick rundown as I understand it: There’s a Clint Eastwood movie where he plays a guy named Harry. Harry kills everyone in town, or a lot of people, or something. So you’re watching it and you’re thinking you don’t like him very much. But then he saves a cat and suddenly he’s an okay guy because even though he just killed a bunch of people, HE SAVED A KITTY. You can use this idea in your writing, to make people like the character better. But make it more original. If all your characters are saving cats all the time, it would get really boring.

 

3. I plan and write in a way that is similar to Susan Meissner‘s approach, although our stories are different.

Her workshop last year was a gigantic help to me, and I took her workshop this year, too. It was different, but tied in perfectly with the one she taught last year. She talks about the 3-act structure and how to structure your novel. Love it. So much.

 

4. Jeff Gerke is a really nice guy, and not intimidating like I thought he was going to be.

Self-explanatory? I think so.

 

5. “If God is calling you to write, to choose not to write to is to choose disobedience.”

Lisa Jordan said that, or something very similar, and that was quite convicting. I’d been doing a lot of thinking and praying around that sort of thing lately. Wow. Just what I needed to hear.

 

6. In order to know my characters, I have to know myself. In order to do that, I need to be honest and that honesty needs to come out in my writing.

Honesty isn’t always easy. Sometimes in can be brutally painful to be honest with yourself about yourself. But how can you address your characters’ strengths and weaknesses and fears and joys if you aren’t willing to address your own? How can you be honest about the character on the page if you aren’t being honest about yourself? Tosca Lee held a workshop on making characters sympathetic, and this was what really stuck with me. It makes sense that if you are writing honestly, it’s going to be better writing and more sincere than if you are holding back.

 

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What are some important lessons you have learned recently? And what are some unexpected places you’ve found ideas for your writing?