Monthly Archives: September 2016

Oh, Why Not?

It’s almost October, and I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs. Everyone is talking about NaNoWriMo, so I thought…. NaNo? WhyNot?

NaNoWriMo has been extremely influential and literally life-changing for my writing career, but there were several years that I turned my nose up at it. I used to say, “NaNo? Hell No!” This post is all about why I thought that…and when I changed.

I gotta say. I love the theme this year!

I gotta say. I love the theme this year!

So let me tell you a story.

I began writing when I was twelve years old. By the time I was fourteen I was certain I was going to be a best seller before I was sixteen. When I was sixteen I realized I had to get working at this whole publishing thing or I was going to get too old to do it. (I mean, who publishes their first book AFTER they’re 18? Heck no. I wouldn’t be, like, cool in high school if I did that!)

So I sent my query letter off to an agent. I waited the required number of weeks until I got my SASE back, and then I cried myself to sleep when it said basically, thanks, but no thanks. (It was, however, a personalized rejection, which I now realize is quite an accomplishment in the querying writer’s world.)

My life, however, was ruined. I mean. The first agent I ever sent my novel to, didn’t want it. What was I going to do? (Yes. I was a little dramatic.)

But no, really. What could I do? I don’t know. Maybe just keep writing.

That’s what I did. Novel after novel after novel. Usually three or four or five all at once. I had several people tell me, “Don’t ever take a creative writing class. They just want to tell you rules and destroy your natural genius in writing.” So for a long time I didn’t take creative writing classes. And then I decided that I wanted to. I grit my teeth, promised myself I would cling to my natural genius, and I would not allow this single creative writing class to destroy me.

It didn’t destroy me. It remade me.

I learned. So much. I took several creative writing classes in college. One of them I honestly thought was intended to destroy my natural genius. I didn’t like the way the teacher taught. I didn’t like the short story examples I had to read. I didn’t like the formulaic crap we were forced to write. And do you know what? I dropped the class.

It was around this time that I learned about NaNoWriMo. I had a friend who loved doing it, and the first thought that came to my mind was, “That’s only something amateurs do. I want to be a professional writer. I’m never going to touch something so awful as NaNoWriMo.”

I kept plodding away on my writing projects. This was kind of a dry spell in my writing life. I had no real umph, no real drive. I kept writing, because I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I felt like every word I put down was wrong, every character I created was flat, every story I thought of was crap.

I moved away from home in 2006 and started getting more serious about my writing again. Although, I can’t say how serious I was when I was younger. I found that original query letter I sent out at 14 and I cried again. This time I cried because I never knew how terrible the query had been.

These were the years when I would randomly think of NaNoWriMo in the middle of the summer. Or I would remember November was the month for it and look at the calendar to see that it was already the twenty-third. I allowed myself to consider the possibility of perhaps participating in it. After all, those creative writing classes certainly hadn’t squashed my inner writer like a bug. Perhaps NaNo wouldn’t, either.

In April of 2010 (I was unaware there was more to NaNo than just November. Funny that I did this during Camp.) But that year I sat down to the computer and started writing this idea I’d been thinking of for a while. I got the first chapter done and read it to my husband, and he said, “Well, what happens next?” I said, “I don’t know.” and he said, “So go write it!”

That next week was a whirlwind of writing a few chapters, reading them to the hubby, getting scolded for stopping on a cliff-hanger ending, and hurrying back to my computer so I could discover the next big reveal. (Yes. I am a pantser, in case anyone was wondering after that paragraph.)

Ten days later I had 30 or 40,000 words written and a complete rough draft of the novel.

That November in 2010 was the one when the realization that NaNoWriMo happens this month, and the proximity to the end of the month were both reasonable. I didn’t think of NaNo until the tenth, but I figured I wanted to be a professional writer, and those daily word count goals would be easy enough to catch up on. I’d finished that novel in April that was almost long enough to be a NaNo. I signed up and started writing.

You know those mid-November blues. Don’t deny it. You know them. Well, I got them. Bad. Long story short, at two days to the end of the month I still had 16,000 words to write to “win” NaNoWriMo. I have my husband to thank for me winning that year. He said, “16,000? You can do it.” So I locked myself in a room with the computer and pounded out six thousand words that first day. The last day saw me up early in the morning. Hubby brought me breakfast. He brought me lunch. He brought me dinner. The whole day long I sat there pounding keys. This was a word war to the max!

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Eleven o’clock PM I smiled to myself and typed out the last two words. The End. I validated my word count with just over fifty thousand words, celebrated with my husband that I’d done it, and I went to bed.

And My. Life. Changed.

Createspace was giving away free proofs of your NaNo novel as a prize for winning that year. I read through the novel once, fixed a few of the spelling errors, slapped together some cover art and hit, “Send me my proof.”

Three days later I had a novel in my hands. My novel. My book. I could feel it, flip through the pages. I could smell the fresh ink. I could curl up in bed and read it. Which I did. Then I lent it to my mom, who loved it. And she lent it to my sister, who loved it. My dad, my sister in law, my other sister. The book was passed around from hand to hand and with every pass I heard the same thing. “I love it.”

It was the first time since I was fourteen years old that I honestly believed I could publish something. It was a re-ignition of that fire I’d felt as a young adult. I could write. I loved to write. And I wanted to be able to share it with people.

NaNoWriMo did that for me. I don’t even want to imagine how different things would have been if I’d said, 16,000 words were too many to write in two days. I don’t want to imagine where I would be if I never finished that NaNo. I like to think that I would have tried again the next November and that I would have gotten that same ignition then, but all I can say is I’m glad I won that first year. Because it truly changed my mind set.

Okay. The story’s not really over. That was 2010, and now it’s six years later and I’m finally getting my first novel published. It still took me a while to get over that, “I’m good, but I’m just not good enough” mindset that I had when I was younger. But I started to change. NaNo was my catalyst. I can track the very beginning of that change in my writing life to November 10, 2010 when I said…NaNo? WhyNot?

I know it’s hard. It is. That’s a lot of words to write in one month. But what kind of writer do you want to be? If you’re serious about being a professional writer, then you’re going to have to write a lot of words. There’s just something electric, something incredible about the community and the excitement of NaNoWriMo that can be life changing. There’s something amazing about holding your novel in your hands. So have fun this November. And enjoy the writing.

Why don’t we close the book?

My husband and I have this habit of going to thrift stores or pawn shops and picking up movies. They’re often ones we’ve never seen and never heard anything about. We’re of the mindset that you can go rent a movie for two bucks, watch it once, and if you like or dislike it you’re out two bucks and you never get to (or have to) see it again. But if you buy the thing for two bucks, and you like it, then you own it. If you dislike it, there are a lot of options for getting rid of it. The trash can is one of those many options.

We’ve found a few movies that have needed that option.

The other night we sat down to watch one of these movies we picked up in such a manner, and before the thing even started I said, “So how long do we give it before we quit watching?” He said, “Twenty minutes.”

Agreed. So we’d watch for twenty minutes and if it seemed like it was going to be awful, then we would just turn the thing off.

Well. Twenty minutes later and I looked at him and said, “What do you think?”

He said, “I don’t know. What do you think?”

I said, “It’s kind of weird. But I’m curious what’s going on. Give it another few minutes?”

“Sure.”

So another few minutes passed and the movie just got weirder. And yet…we were curious what was going on. It got weirder. And weirder. AND WEIRDER. By the time we were twenty minutes from the end we were both so freaked out and weirded out and almost disgusted that we wanted nothing more than to turn the darn movie off. But we didn’t.

Oh, why didn’t we?

The story ended with a strange and pointless twist that basically nullified everything that had happened in the movie. It was almost as bad as the ending that says, “And then I woke up and realized this was all just a dream.” (But not in that “Inception” kind of way.)

And I looked at my husband and said, “Why didn’t we turn that off at twenty minutes?”

This movie wasn’t the only one this has happened to us with. Obviously, since we asked how long we wanted to give it. Usually when we keep asking each other if we should turn it off and we keep thinking we should and never do, it’s more often than not a dissatisfying ending. So why do we not turn it off at twenty minutes?

I think the reason is because we’re such story addicts. We start watching something and we see the hook, and we see the problems, and we want it explained. We want to understand why it is that these things are happening to these people. I often have a similar problem with novels, but I’m more likely to set it down and leave it down with a novel. A movie keeps things moving right in front of you with no down time, which makes it a much harder decision to actually stop.

So how many times have you kept watching, even when you hate the movie? How many times have you gotten to the end of a novel and wanted to throw the thing across the room? Was it worth it? Do you somehow feel a little more completed because, even if it was an awful movie or book, at least now you understand what happened at the end? Is there a reason why you finished? Let me know in the comments section below.

Have fun and enjoy the writing.

Bitter-sweet

I took a few days off from my blog because I was…gasp…being an author. Or, becoming one, at least.

This last weekend I finished my revisions for my debut novel that will be coming out soon. Then I sent it to my editor and got started on my next book. Before I get completely lost in a new and exciting world, I thought I should stop by my blog and talk about endings.

As I finished up my revisions for my debut novel, and used my baby’s favorite blanket as my personal tear-catcher, I realized that I have a–well, I’m not sure what to call it. A problem? A habit? A preference? Anyway. I like a little bit of bitter in my semi-sweet endings. Just like a lovely dark chocolate.

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Yum.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Don’t even get me started on all those novels I had to read in my Spanish Literature classes where no one ever got the girl and half the people ended up dead or destitute. No. I am not a sad ending kind of girl.

However, something all that Spanish Literature taught me was that sadness can be truly poignant. That tugging, aching feeling you get in your chest when you REALLY don’t want that character to die, but you KNOW he must! That breathless, tear-jerking moment when everything is (finally) all better, but it’s just not the same. It’s never the same. Because we Lost something so very important in the midst of those heart-wrenching pages of the novel.

I love it.

If an ending can make me close the book or sit at the credits at the end of a movie and make me sit there and think for several minutes about whether or not I’m happy about what happened, then I usually get a smile on my face.

Unless it’s one of those movies that just makes me want to say…

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So, I’ll ask for your comments later on, but right now I want to talk about my favorite and least favorite endings.

For my favorite ending, I have to go with Push I love the twist, the tragedy, the somewhat open-endedness of the plot, and every time I watch it I wonder, “Why didn’t they ever make a sequel?” And then I realize, “Oh yeah. Because Chris Evans became filthy rich doing all sorts of other super hero movies, and Dakota Fanning got too old to be the cute 12-year-old who likes to drink.”

As far as an ending that might go too bitter in that bitter-sweet concoction is the movie The Time Traveler’s Wife. I haven’t read the book yet, and that’s probably because of the reaction I always have to the movie. Basically, every time I get to the end of that movie I sit there while the credits roll and ask myself over and over, “Am I depressed? I think I’m depressed. Was that happy, or…kind of sad? I think that was sad. Like. Really sad. I don’t know if I can watch that again.” Which of course means I have watched it two or three times, and still get to the end asking myself those very same questions. The last time I watched it I decided I pretty much know it makes me sad, and too sad for me to want to suffer through it again. So I’m sorry, Time Traveler’s Wife, but we can’t have any sort of ongoing relationship.

Funny, though, I just realized that my favorite and least favorite movie both came out in 2009.

So what about you? Do you love those bittersweet endings, or are you ready for the author to just pour on some sugar at the end so you can go to bed knowing that everyone ate dessert? Or do you go the other way? Are you a Spanish Literature-type fan, who thinks dessert should be spelled with one S, and everyone should be dying of thirst and have nothing to eat but sand when we read the words The End? Let me know in the comments below, and…hey, why not. Let’s do a spoiler alert. What’s your favorite ending? What’s your least favorite ending? We can go with movies or books.

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

On ending books, beginning books, and being in the middle of things

I took a few days off from my blog this last week, and it’s mostly because I was trying to take my own advice and be an author. I’d set a personal goal to be finished by the end of August with the revisions on the novel I’ll be publishing this year. Well. It then became September. So I changed my goal to be done by the first week of September. I came close when I finished it yesterday, on the 12th. At least I made it before the month was half over. Yay for achieving goals…even if they’re a little late.

But I did it. Shed a couple of tears (literally. I’ll be writing about bittersweet endings sometime soon) and then wrote those two wonderful words, “THE END.”

And then I said…oh boy. Now what?

I’ve got myself a very nice plan for my writing goals, and the next step in that plan is to revise my NaNo novel from 2012. It’s been sitting on a back shelf for four years now, begging for some attention. I decided I was going to try to get that one published second, but there’s just one problem.

I have to start it.

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As a NaNo novel that has not seen much revision in the last four years, it certainly has its fair share of…how shall I put it…parts that could be better. One of those particular parts is the beginning. So not only do I have to make my writing better…I also have to entirely rethink what I’m going to write. (The original beginning is somewhat of a “forbidden” beginning. And yes, I know. Rules are made to be broken, but only when you have a really good reason for breaking them. My reason for breaking them when I originally wrote my forbidden beginning, was because I had no idea how else to start the book. Not, in my opinion, a good reason for breaking a rule.)

So I must don my thinking cap again and push on through. I know once I get started revising, I’ll get into the swing of the story and I’ll be mostly fine (at least until I have to kill off a favorite character. That always throws on the brakes for any novel I’m working on.)

So now that I’ve addressed endings and beginnings, let’s talk about being in the middle of things. I’m currently in the middle of putting my children to bed, even though it is 9:40 and way beyond being past bedtime, so it will be a short blog post today. Good night everyone. Have fun and enjoy the writing.

Nosy Neighbors

Time for my first “Yes, I exercise” post.

It’s a busy world. We all need exercise, right? Well. I’ve decided that the best exercise for me is writing exercises. I don’t have to get off the couch. I don’t have to sweat…(unless it’s hot out and the AC is broken.) All I have to do is make sure to lick the grease off my fingers before I touch the keyboard. Here’s the exercise, and stay tuned afterward for a little more information about it.

Eden

“What seems to be the problem?” I asked as I shifted my weight to my left foot. It had been a long day, and I had the feeling it was about to get longer. I hooked my thumb in my belt and Mr. Jordan frowned at me. It was a bad habit I had. It made people uncomfortable when a cop had his hand so close to his gun. I was a newbie. I was still getting used to the fact that I had a gun on my belt.

“Nothing. No problem at all, officer,” Mr. Jordan answered.

“That’s not the story we heard from Eden Hope.” That was my partner, John Lopez. He looked as Mexican as they come, but he didn’t speak a lick of Spanish, and he hated it when people called him Juan.

“Yeah, well Eden is always complaining about something or another. There’s no problem at all officers, really,” Mrs. Jordan responded.

Just then Eden opened her front door and walked across the street to us. Mrs. Jordan’s face went sour as her neighbor approached.

“Good morning, officers,” Eden said as she stepped up to John’s side. She was inappropriately named. I think of the name Eden and I see some drop dead gorgeous woman, slender, long blonde hair, something like that. Eden Hope could only hope to look like that. Her hips stuck out like the wings of an airplane. The auburn color of her short hair obviously came from a box, and the crop cut did nothing to hide the rolls of fat on her neck or the black hairs that dotted her chin.

John cleared his throat. He looked ill. “Are you the one who called, ma’am?”

“Yes. I would like you to arrest these two.”

I raised an eyebrow. “On what charges?”

“They have a dead body in their home.”

Mrs. Jordan’s jaw clenched.

“How do you know this?” John asked, then rubbed his nose.

“I can smell it. Day and night. Any time the wind changes.”

Just then the wind changed. I certainly smelled something, but it was too close to be coming from the Jordans’ house. I almost gagged.

“You can’t smell anything but your own stench,” Mr. Jordan growled.

Eden stepped forward, and John was brave enough to put a hand on her shoulder and keep her back. “Please, Miss Hope. Let’s just see if we can figure this out without any trouble.”

Eden glowered at him, but she folded her arms and stepped back. “I don’t smell like rotting flesh, Robert,” Eden said.

John cleared his throat again and looked away.

“Look,” Eden turned to address me now. “All I know is that these two moved in, they had some old man come over one evening, and he never left. After that the neighborhood started stinking. They killed him, I tell you, and his body is rotting somewhere inside that house.”

I bit at my lip, it wasn’t so much a gesture of indecision as it was an effort not to hurl. “I’m sorry Miss Hope, but there’s really not much we can do about this. You say the old man never came out, but perhaps he left when you didn’t see him.”

“He didn’t. I have security cameras on my front door and they happen to overlap the Jordans’ front door. The old man never came out.” The wind shifted again and Eden stuck her nose in the air. “See? There! Don’t you smell it?”

I wasn’t really brave enough to take a deep breath, but I did sniff the air a little. There was certainly something unpleasant on the breeze, and it wasn’t coming from Eden’s direction. Perhaps the lady was right.

“Hey,” John said to me, then motioned me away from the group. We stepped out of hearing range and John frowned. “What do you think?”

I shrugged. “We should probably look into it. I mean, she does have the video.”

John shook his head. “It’s nothing. She’s just a bad neighbor. Besides, do you know all the paperwork this means if we pursue it?”

I pursed my lips. Avoiding paperwork didn’t seem like a good reason to ignore a complaint like this.

“Just like Mr. Jordan said, she couldn’t possibly smell anything other than herself.”

I had an uncle who lived on a farm. Every time I went there all I could smell was cow manure and muddy hay. Uncle Tony said the place didn’t stink at all, except when a cat died in the rafters. He could smell the dead cat, just not the cows. I opened my mouth to mention it when Mrs. Jordan spoke up.

“Can we please get this over with? I have something on the stove.”

John took a deep breath then exhaled. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, Mrs. Jordan. Go ahead and get back to your stove. Miss Hope, there’s really not much we can do.”

“You’re kidding me.” Eden raised one eyebrow at him.

“We’ll make sure to file a report and if any of the other neighbors mention anything then maybe we…”

“All the other neighbors are gone. All moved out a long time ago.”

“Why?”

Eden just shrugged. Mrs. Jordan said, “Nosy neighbors?”

“Have a nice day, Miss Hope,” John said.

Her response was not the customary one that followed a statement like John’s. He ignored the obscenities and headed back to our patrol car. I walked back a little more slowly. Before I reached my door I heard Mrs. Jordan say, “You’re going to regret that, you freak.”

I watched them in the mirror as John drove away. That was the last time I ever saw Eden Hope. The case stuck with me a long time, and several years later I went back there. I learned that Eden had mysteriously disappeared some time ago, and even though her sister had cleared out the house and sold it on the market, the neighborhood still kept that funny smell for years.

So this exercise was inspired by one of my Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group exercises that we do every month. The prompt was to write a scene that had dialogue with four or more people. I decided to write it in first person mainly because it cut down the number of names I needed to say in order to tag the dialogue. And speaking of dialogue tagging, I tried to use beats instead of using “said” or other tags.

Overall it was a fun little exercise. I certainly enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it. And, why not? If you’ve got time, or if you’re stuck in a little bit of writer’s block, go find a way to write a scene with more than four characters speaking. Let me know how it turned out.

Have fun and enjoy the writing.

Painted Blind

Here’s my debut book review post. I’ll be reviewing a wide range of styles and books. Here we have a YA Romance, but I have plans to review a classic Scifi novel, a western, a post-apocalypse novel, a romance novel, and many, many other genres. Just like with my writing, I really enjoy reading a wide variety of genres. So let’s get started.

I must say, this is an excellent book to start with. Not only because my debut published novel will be YA romance, but because this is by far one of the best books I have read in a while. I rave about it. I told my mom and all my sisters to read it. Told my friends at church to read it. I’ve picked it up and skimmed the pages a few times since I finished it.

I know. You’re wondering what this amazing book is. Let me welcome to the spotlight…

Painted Blind by Michelle A. Hansen.

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Every story has a story, and I would like to tell the story of how I got this story. (Whew. My editor would be like, “Repeated word usage here.” I know. Sorry.)

I picked this book up at an author conference back in October. Michelle had two books and I asked her which she recommended for me and she suggested this one. After reading it I’m ready to go get her other novel; Before They Find Us.

But first, let me tell you about Painted Blind.

This is a case of bad inductive reasoning. I bought Painted Blind at the same time as I bought another book that I…um…did not enjoy. So Sherlock mind of mine assumed that this story would be exactly the same. Don’t think about the fact that it was by a different author, was a different story, different category, etc. etc.

So it went home with me and sat on my bookshelf for three months. One afternoon I was cleaning up around the book shelf, noticed it, and thought, “Hmm. I should give this book a chance.” So I took it upstairs and put it on my headboard. Where it waited another week.

Then one late evening while I was feeding my sweet little baby, I was bored. What better way to cure boredom than to pick up a book. Thankfully, Painted Blind was on my headboard.

I read the prologue, and thought, Hmm. Interesting.

I read the first chapter and thought, Very interesting.

By the end of the second chapter I was hooked. Oh. No. Every fear Psyche had in the first chapter has now come true. I needed to find out what she would do, so I chewed through that book in a couple of days, (which is an impressive feat when you have two young children at home.)

What’s it about? you ask. Well…

Psyche is a down-to-earth drop-dead gorgeous girl who has just gotten back to her small Montana hometown after a summer of modeling. She promised her dad when she left that there would be no nude photo shoots, and she…mostly…kept that promise, but that one single shoot she did that was questionable, ends up on a billboard in the center of town.

She meets Erik, a mysterious and–strangely–invisible young man who is willing to help her out of all the trouble and publicity she’s dealing with because of the ad.

They pretty much fall madly in love with each other. Want more details, go read the book. I’m just going to spend the rest of the time telling you why it was so perfect. (Well, almost perfect. Make sure to read my post about that here.) I could go on forever writing all my reasons, and explaining them to death, but I’m just going to turn it into a nice little list.

  1. The Hook: I felt like Michelle did a great job of introducing the conflict right off the bat. The end of chapter one leaves us with some foreshadowing of what’s about to come. By the end of chapter two, Psyche has seen her face and nearly naked body on a billboard in the center of town.
  2. The Conflict: There is constantly increasing conflict in the story. As I read I thought, “oh yeah. That’s bad, but…she can fix it.” then something happened, and I thought, “Yeah. That’s worse. But she can still get out of it.” And then…something worse happened. Every time I started to feel like things would work out and Psyche could solve this on her own without too much pain, then there was another problem and another.
  3. The Pacing: This is kind of related to the above, but the pacing was really good, (for the most part…more on this later.) I would read a chapter and feel all tense and worked up, and then she’d put in this chapter where the hero and heroine just talked and hung out. It was a real nice break from the stress of the novel. Then she’d hammer me again with another problem.
  4. The relationship: More of my brilliant inductive reasoning that I mentioned above came into play here. When I read the blurb on the back of the book I thought, “A hero who’s invisible? How the heck are we supposed to fall in love with that?” You know how? Banter. I loved the way the two characters talked. The relationship, the conversations were natural and funny. One of the few books I’ve read that has made me actually, literally laugh out loud. (I chuckle sometimes when reading, but full on laughing? Not often.)
  5. The Characters: Besides having a really great hero and heroine, the supporting characters in this book were great. I was having an internal battle trying to decide if I was more in love with Rory or Aeas as supporting characters. Not sure that I decided which, but I do have to say, the epilogue made me laugh and cry. (and it has to do with Rory, so he might have won the battle.) I love to mention the characters I love, but my goodness, she can make you really hate some characters, too. The only word I can come up with to describe the antagonist is “despicable,” (and not in the cute “despicable Me” way.) But last of all when talking about the characters, I simply can’t leave out that I truly feel awful for the poor wolf that got pepper sprayed. To this day I think about that pup and just want to join in its pitiful yips and whines.
  6. The Settings: I swear, I felt like I was traveling the world as I read this book. The settings were absolutely beautiful, and stunningly described.

Whew. Now that the list is over, just a few more things and then I’ll let it be.

There is only one major complaint I have about the novel. I personally felt like the journey leading up to Psyche’s final task was too long and drawn out. Don’t get me wrong, the descriptions and setting were beautiful, and I actually had the opportunity to ask Michelle a few questions and think I understand the reason for the rather drawn-out journey, but I found myself feeling extremely bored in those couple of chapters. The ending is worth slogging through them, though, and here’s why…

She’s a princess.

Yeah. It’s a YA novel. Like, every girl becomes a princess, right?

Well that’s not what I said. She doesn’t become a princess. I said she IS a princess. The whole book long.

I’ll try not to give too much of the ending away, (but seriously, it’s a romance. If I tell you they lived happily ever after I’m sure you won’t be surprised.) So I’ll just say it. They live happily ever after. And at one point near the very end, Psyche stands up and commands people–just like a princess. When I read that scene I had to stop and think for a moment. Was she acting out of character to give such royal commands? Where did she learn to be a princess and act like that?

As I reflected on the book, I realized that she acted that way throughout the entire story. I won’t tell you where, but as you read it, (because you should) keep an eye out for her princessly acts. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was to realize that she is royal to her soul.

This point alone was what made me love the book so much. As a mom, even though my children are young, I am constantly on the lookout for novels that portray the kinds of values that I believe are important. Having morals is one of those values I respect. In Painted Blind, Psyche was real. She held standards for herself, but they were part of who she was, not just thrown in in order to make a point. They were integral to the storyline, and she certainly wasn’t perfect in upholding those standards at times. Her imperfection is what gets her in trouble, but her willingness to change and stand for her values at the end is what saves her. I have read some YA novels by christian writers who force their character to have morals. Those books feel more like a lecture than a novel. I believe it’s important to show morals in a realistic way, with the characters failing and screwing up sometimes, because, let’s be honest, nobody is perfect.

So there you have it, basically every reason I could think of for you to go out and buy the book. When I get enough time to read her other book, I will almost certainly be posting another review here again. So tell me what you think in the comments section. Have you read the book? Did you love it, or am I crazy? If you haven’t read the book…Um, what are you waiting for? Buying it is, like, two clicks away.Michelle A Hansen 2015 small

A big thanks to Michelle A. Hansen for writing her book, and for sharing some fun insights into the project through an email conversation. Perhaps if anyone is interested I’ll write another post and share some of the info she said I could use on my blog. This one’s already really long, though, so…

Have fun and enjoy the writing.