On reworking an old fairy tale

I’ve been in a terrible mood this last year… writing has been largely like pulling teeth. The WIP I’ve been working on (Charlie) had me neck deep in research to the point where I wasn’t writing at all for days. So, I decided to stitch together an ode to my favourite odd couple, Beauty and the Beast, to cheer myself up.

My mom read a lot to me as a kid. All kinds of books… but I tended to gravitate towards this one illustrated copy of Beauty and the Beast (Deborah Apy) based on the 1756 version by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont that I mentioned in my last post.

I still have the book… it’s a little tattered and torn and the pages have darkened a bit, and the illustrations have gone murkier than they were before, but it’s what I consider one of my few cherished possessions. I loved the fact that the castle was immense and empty. I loved the idea of the mysterious hidden garden. It made me laugh how terribly angsty and melodramatic the Beast was… and it creeped me out to no end that he would stand there staring at Beauty while she slept: “…the Beast walked to the side of Beauty’s bed and looked at her longingly. He stood this way, for many hours, blood dripping from his hands.”

One of the most amusing parts was that in all the illustrations, the Beast was always done up in what looked like fancy bathrobes.

©1980 and 1983 by Michael Hague

The story was weird and I loved it. But, it wasn’t without its faults… for one, Beauty was a complete airhead. It made me wonder, more and more as I got older, what the Beast saw in her. I also didn’t like the nightly marriage proposals.

Oh… and I hated these two:

©1980 and 1983 by Michael Hague

Adele and Jeanette, Beauty’s sisters, two utterly despicable creatures. I never got why they were so horrible to Beauty… but then, that’s the nature of a lot of fairy tales—you have little backstory and characterizations tend to be exaggerated.

I could have gone dark with my version (and I may yet one day) but I wanted the first out of my fairy tale collection (because yes… there are more) to be a nice break from the seriousness of other things I’m writing, a break from the atrocities happening in the world, and something to put a smile on my face. And it worked. I love this silly story. :)

It’s a mix of the Apy/Beaumont version and the Disney one. I actually considered putting in a Gaston type character, but it felt superfluous. Instead, I went with a small cast, stuck close to the original Beauty and the Beast plot but added the much needed comic relief that the Disney version brought with the talking furniture sidekicks crossed with those from The Black Hole: A Spaceship Adventure for Robots. Then I filled it with sci fi and fantasy movie references and made the sisters a wee bit less evil. Oh and Juniper Bo might not be the bookworm that Belle is in the Disney version, but he’s definitely not the birdbrain that is Apy’s Beauty… and Marrex is a touch less melodramatic than Apy’s Beast. ;)

©1980 and 1983 by Michael Hague

Anyway, Beauty and His Beast available now at Amazon for kindle and in Paperback, and it’s in Kindle Unlimited for the time being. Michael Ferraiuolo will be doing the audiobook narration and that should be available in the new year.

If you’re interested in the version with Hague’s illustrations, you can find it at AbeBooks or at Amazon.

Hopefully my next book will be along shortly… Will it be Charlie? Or will it be something else I’ve been writing called The Blacksmith’s Apprentice?

 

Back to School – 99¢ Sale

🎉 Sale ends August 31 – US & UK only

Sacrificed: Heart Beyond the Spires – 99¢

Fated: Blood and Redemption – 99¢

Better the Devil You Know – 99¢

F.I.S.T.S. Handbook For Individual Survival in Hostile Environments (Sarge & Murphy) – 99¢

 

Do you like audiobooks?

Did you know that most of my titles are available in audiobook format? Michael Ferraiuolo and Nick J. Russo have both lent their vocal talents to my characters, delivering incredible performances that really bring the stories to life.

Hear Sarge ordering his boy Murphy around… Listen and laugh at Tom giving Baltsaros cheek… And all the little tender moments in between really shine through in these narrations.

Best of all? All my titles are “whispersynced” with the Amazon kindle version*… if you already own it on kindle, pick up the audio for a fraction of the cost, and flip between listening and reading to your heart’s content without ever losing your spot.

See titles available here: http://geni.us/BeyAudible

(Blog reviewers: want an audio copy of any of my books? Just email me 😊)

*titles are also available through other retailers. Just see this page for more information or check your favourite audiobook estore.

Writer & Reader Expectations and Some Ramblings About Romance

It’s funny, when I set out to write Exposed I was worried about a few things. One, that I would weird people out by using a great Welsh word as a safeword. Two, that my usual readers would find it too lighthearted, compared to my usual stuff. Three, that Emyr calling Greg “Daddy” would bother people. That’s what I expected…. and then the unexpected happened: it never once occurred to me that I’d be reading reviews with the words “BDSM”, “Dom”, or “sub” in them. What’s up with that? Did I market the book wrong? I never tagged it as BDSM, never mentioned any kind of D/s relationship, said that it was a little kinky, and told folks it was just a cute love story. What happened?

Just reader expectations, I believe, and ones that I couldn’t predict because I don’t know what they are. I was just saying to a friend that I have a distinct disadvantage when it comes to writing books that readers include in a genre I didn’t even know existed until after I published my first book.

The B/l (or Daddy/lg or Daddy/lb) relationships I’ve witnessed in my life were just sweet, loving, and devoted… really nurturing things (with some really silly play …and, yes, occasional spanking thrown in for good measure) and I set out to capture that lovely fondness I’ve admired so much. (And I often mentally hug Greg and Emyr for really getting there!)

But, there were reader expectations with the words “Daddy kink”, (something I tagged it for just as a warning) that I did not know about. And… now I know (and knowing is half the battle! GI Joe... ahem sorry, I’m on cold meds)

So, anyway, next book I write, I’ll see if I can word the blurb a little more clearly to reflect what the book is actually about (or maybe not about?)

Which brings me to Romance in general…

Folks reading Caged keep saying “this isn’t really a Romance” to which I sit there, scratching my head, wondering where they got the idea that it was a Romance. It has romantic elements, for sure. Life does in general, doesn’t it? But Caged? A Romance? Max? A Romance? I don’t even know if Exposed is a Romance. I keep squinting at definitions and wondering what this whole Romance thing is about (disclaimer: I’m aromantic1). It feels far more nebulous a genre than what I read: Has robots? Sci-fi. Has dragons? Fantasy. Has robot dragons? Sci-fi/fantasy. thumbs up

With Romance, well… the requirements seem to depend on who you talk to.

I did read two books that are considered Romance when I was younger. One was called Sea Star: Private Life of Anne Bonny which was pretty rapey if I recall, and the other one was about um… the wild west? I think? Maybe about a doomed love triangle? Also rapey. So, my young adolescent self drew the conclusion that “Romance Novels” equated “rapey”. However, another thing they both had in common was a lot more plot circling around love and sex than I had ever previously read before.

Hey, all my books have plots that focus primarily on the relationship between the protagonists. So… Romance?

And… Novelist Walter Scott defined the literary fiction form of romance as “a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents.” 2

My characters certainly encounter uncommon incidents. So… Romance?

Also from Wikipedia:

According to the Romance Writers of America, the main plot of a romance novel must revolve about the two people as they develop romantic love for each other and work to build a relationship. Both the conflict and the climax of the novel should be directly related to that core theme of developing a romantic relationship, although the novel can also contain subplots that do not specifically relate to the main characters’ romantic love.

Furthermore, a romance novel must have an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.” Some romance novel authors and readers believe the genre has additional restrictions, from plot considerations (such as the protagonists’ meeting early on in the story), to avoiding themes (such as adultery). Other disagreements have centered on the firm requirement for a happy ending; some readers admit stories without a happy ending, if the focus of the story is on the romantic love between the two main characters (e.g., Romeo and Juliet). While the majority of romance novels meet the stricter criteria, there are also many books widely considered to be romance novels that deviate from these rules. Therefore, the general definition, as embraced by the RWA and publishers, includes only the focus on a developing romantic relationship and an optimistic ending.

All of my books, including Devil (if you look at it the way I do), focus on the relationships of the MCs and have HFN/HEAs…. So… Romance?

I think, maybe, in the end, that my books are Romance books, but only to folks who don’t have too rigid expectations. When it comes to meeting more stringent do’s/don’ts and customary story development… I will definitely fall short, because I just don’t know what those expectations are. But that’s a-ok! Despite the fact that I write and will continue to write entirely for myself, plenty of other people do enjoy my books, and that is absolutely amazing.

And… for those of you who have actually made it this far in my ramblings, you get a special something because I’m in a great mood today :)


1I’m the kind of aromantic who’d actually like to feel deeply about someone, hence my exploration of love in my books. Heh, it’s like I’m finding love through writing :)

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_novel

Post-pub update and Happy St. Patty’s! 🍀

Quick break to write a real blog post for once.

Exposed is out and doing better than I thought. :D I was stupidly nervous for this one because I wasn’t sure anyone would like it, but I was wrong, like usual. What is it about writing that makes me so nervous? It’s probably the reason I do it.

There are the usual complaints about my stories but I managed to introduce a new one with Exposed. So, it goes: not enough plot, too much plot, not realistic enough, too realistic, creepy, too boring, too much sex, too kinky, not kinky enough, and now… too fluffy. I never thought I’d live to see the day. grin I wrote fluffy!

And then there’s the politics… authors shouldn’t mix politics and romance ;)

The rest of the stuff I always just chalk up to different personal experiences. Like, for this one, I’ve only got working knowledge of touring in Canada and talked logistics with folks who are responsible for a band out of the UK. I’m not really familiar with how tours work for US bands (though, actually I am better versed now than I was when I started writing Exposed… thanks, Mötley Crüe).

I’m also used to my familial connections with fame and what sort of stuff they encounter in Canada and the UK versus the US… and there’s also a sort of easy, non-pestering, polite attitude Montrealers have towards actors/musicians. Like, you run into famous people all the time here, and no one makes a big deal. Folks like touring/filming here because of that.

What’s fun about writing contemporary stories is I get to use stuff I know rather than just making up shit in Fantasy/Paranormal/Science Fiction (not that I don’t like making fantasy shit up). So, Exposed is a hodgepodge of different things. Some of the places in the book are places I’ve been that have good memories attached to them… like that particular chiringuito in Torremolinos (and the boxes of wine!), the hotel with the crazy carpets and the barely functional ice machine I nearly sliced myself open on in Munich, the scene kids outside the hotel in Nice, and of course everything about Montreal. I modelled Greg’s workplace after the software place I worked at forever.

Little details came from winters spent lying on the beach listening to my parents’ Brit paparazzi friend tell his sleazy stories, from friends who’ve made the hard decision to cancel shows due to political climate, from the very real concerns about personal safety while travelling to the States right now, from my own practical knowledge (Greg owns the same camera as me) and, you know, personal kinks.

The thing from Greg’s past is an exaggerated version of something from my own past mixed with an interesting case study I read last summer. Tam is modelled after an old coworker, Rose is modelled after an ex-tour-manager-turned-travel-agent I know (though he regrets the career change heh), Barrie looks like this old lush I know who hangs out in an expat bar and talks to anyone who’ll listen about his days in the theatre. And Emyr? Well heh, Emyr is a bunch of different people. Physically, he’s sort of based on an actor, mixed in with an ex of mine, a singer in a band my best friend was crazy about twenty years ago (oh god has it been that long?), and this beautiful guy I knew long ago who loved wearing heels. But… in the course of writing this, Emyr really became his own person, and I love him for that. He’s just so full of life and I needed someone like that to write about.

All in all, I’m happy.

Post publishing is always such a relief for me. It means that the story no longer lives in its entirety in my head and I can let it go and move on to the next book…

…which is a vampire story! So far I’m having a great time with these guys. It’s definitely not romantic. It’s on the dark end of the scale… horror-ish. I’ve already done the cover for it and it’s freaky heh. I’ll probably show it to my newsletter subscribers later this month when I post about the Exposed paperback giveaway happening soon.

And finally: today is the day that everyone out there with a drop of Irish blood (hey I’m, like, quarter Irish) goes around making sure that everyone knows it.
So, Happy St. Patty’s! I’ll be celebrating with some Guinness later but for now it’s back to work… Here, I’ll leave you with a little St. Patty’s day history here in Montreal:

St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated in Montreal as far back as 1759, after the Conquest, by Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison. In 1817, the beginning of the Irish community here, the observance of St. Patrick’s day was marked by special dinners and the celebration of religious services. Read More

New Painting – James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) from Taboo

Over the holidays I picked up a bunch of great new photoshop brushes from Kyle T. Webster (https://www.kylebrush.com/) and I’ve only just now got to use them. I just finished my latest book and it’s sitting with beta readers so I had time to paint :)

Here’s James Delaney from Taboo, my current favourite show. If you haven’t seen it, I’d highly recommend it to anyone who likes dark and violent historical fiction.

Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney (Taboo)

 

You see me as I am. All of those that I gather are damned. It’s just part of a company policy of mine.
—James Keziah Delaney

Enter to win a signed paperback of Max or Kestrel’s Talon!

Max ☞ Enter Here Kestrel’s Talon ☞ Enter Here

Giveaways end Feb. 17 (US, Canada, UK only)

Caged narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

Audiobook reviewed at Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas
Length: 13 Hours and 55 Minutes.
Tags: M/M; Gay; Menage; M/M/M; Fantasy; Pirates; First Time; BDSM; Historical Fantasy; Enemies to Lovers

Whispersynced – if you own the Amazon kindle version, get the audible copy for $1.99 US

The narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo, is a new narrator to me and I can say for certain that he’s snared another fan.

Ferraiuolo captures each character so distinctly it’s absolutely amazing to hear him perform!

I am completely smitten with his voice for Tom. As I finished a chapter with “Tom’s” voice I went back and listened to it again. Michael’s accent for Tom is perfect and embodies each of his characteristics, bringing Tom to life. I could catch all of the different inflections in his voice…when Tom is mocking Jon you can even hear the humor. And Tom’s interactions with Baltsaros are titillating, edgy and kept me wanting more.

Read the rest of the review

Taboo Tuesday at Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter: Win a copy of Max in audio

Taboo Tuesday at Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter features Max narrated by the very talented Nick J. Russo! Enter the giveaway today for a chance to win a copy :)

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