Sunday, December 2, 2012

Read-along: Chapter 1

Continuing the Heartless read-along! Remember, if you haven't read it already, you can get it for free e-book download until the end of the month. Snatch it up while you can!

There will be questions at the end of each segment, and there will be giveaways at the end of each week. If you would like to be eligible for a giveaway here's what you have to do: Answer at least one question each day of the week. Everyone who does that will have their name entered in a drawing, and the THREE winners will be selected each Sunday. I'll be giving out copies of my three other novels, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower.


Dialogue: This chapter opens with an amusing dialogue between Una and her nurse, in which Una bewails the lack of romance in her rather boring life, and Nurse ventures her opinions on romance. I really loved using this scene to establish Una's character. She is a sweet, romantic, dreamy girl with quite a streak of immaturity in her outlook. Which makes sense given her status as a sheltered princess!

Nurse acts as a great foil to Una, being in many ways her polar opposite. Her pragmatism serves to highlight Una's dreamy silliness to comedic effect.

Desires: Fiction is all about establishing your protagonists desires . . . and then throwing absolutely everything you can in the way of achieving those desires! Una's desire for romance in her life--which becomes her primary goal for the first half of this novel--is clearly set in place within this first scene. Now that her desire is prepped, we get the fun of watching it thwarted!

Descriptions: I have never liked the tendency of writers to define their characters by what they look like. I wanted Una to be such a distinct personality that my readers would form a clear picture in their minds of what they believed her to look like without any help on my part! I gave little quirks--she breaks out in red blotches when embarrassed, and her hair never stays in place. To me, that was more than enough to form a solid picture in my head!

But, by about the seventh draft of this novel (and at my editor's request), I finally caved and blessed Una with honey-colored hair. I don't think I ever gave her an eye-color though . . .

Lifestyle: Although Una is a princess, and Oriana Palace is quite sumptuous, she doesn't live as opulent a lifestyle as one might imagine. She doesn't have a host of ladies-in-waiting, just her one nurse, and she attends classes with her brother. She's spoiled for sure, but nowhere near as spoiled as she might be!

Monster: Five years since the prologue, we find Monster firmly established within Oriana Palace as the princess's pet. His ongoing war with Prince Felix provides some comic moments as well. I suspect Felix gave the cat his name, too! I doubt Una would have named him "Monster." I like how she talks to him, though she doesn’t really believe he understands her. I talk to my pets all the time!

The history lesson: Una and Felix's history lesson is a fun little tidbit, hinting at things to come later in the series. They are studying the rise of Corrilond in the year of the Sleeper's Awakening during the reign of Abundiantus IV. Corrilond, we learn later, was destroyed  five hundred years ago by a dragon the Bane of Corrilond . . . destroyed so completely that some people even wonder if it ever existed! But it's still in their history books at least.

The Twelve-Year Market: And here the magic begins to happen! The Twelve-Year Market was actually a bit of a late-comer in the drafting process as well. Originally, the story opened with Prince Aethelbald simply arriving at Oriana Palace to "pay his respects," and the first chapter ended with his surprising proposal. But I decided I wanted to bring in a little more magic and mystery surrounding him.

Magic has not been a prominent force in Parumvir for many generations by the time this book takes place. But when the Prince of Farthestshore makes it his business to step out of the Wood Between into the mortal world, other Faeries get excited and decide to bring the market back as well! It was tremendously fun to explore the various folks and their magical wares through the eyes of Una and her brother. Some things were unique to this world, while others--like the seven-league boots--are familiar to fairy tales.

The unicorn fry: Considering we meet much a older, more frightening unicorn later on in the series, the unicorn fry here in the first chapter of Heartless seem a bit out of place. But years ago, I read a theory (not one I believe, but an interesting theory) that the unicorn legend developed out of narwhale sightings, which would mean that the first unicorns were sea creatures. It took only a few leaps and an imaginative jump before sea unicorns (which I pictures looking much more like sea horses than narwhales) emerged in my mind. And I was just tickled by the idea of people having bowls of sea unicorns like we would have bowls of goldfish! I mean, wouldn't that be fantastic?

Time: In this chapter we are first introduced to the Faerie folk's notion of time. For mortals, year follows year, hour follows hour in a natural progression. For Faeries, this isn't so. The old man with the alabaster jars everyone, "Unicorn fry, fresh from the sea, caught just this morning--or last century, depending on your view." King Fidel tells Sir Oeric that it has been at least two hundred years since a Twelve-Year Market was recorded in Parumvir . . . to which Oeric replies, "But only twelve years as my folk count it."

Later on, Time and its manipulation beyond the mortal world is going to be a very important theme! So keep your eyes open.

Characters: We meet several more important folks in this chapter, including King Fidel, Una's father, and Sir Oeric, one of the knights of Farthestshore. Oeric plays a major role in Moonblood, but he only has a small part in this book. I liked bringing him into the tale, though, because he's character I've written about since long before I ever dreamed up Heartless! He has a long and interesting history, which I hope to someday be able to share with all of you. I will drop little hints now: His story connects with Abundiantus V, the Sleeper's Awakening, and the naming of Goldstone Wood.

Curious yet?

Malgril and Julnril: The two dwarf brothers who made the silver-wrought figurines that move . . . do you know, I'd forgotten all about putting them into this novel? They and their workmanship were characters who featured in short-story ideas I played around with back in high school, and I have some faint ideas of playing with them in later Goldstone Wood tales. But I had forgotten that they had found their way into Heartless! That made me smile.

The Seven-League Boots: Poor Felix. He ends up the butt of quite a number of jokes in this story! One of the biggest--and most popular--being this funny little scene where he stops by a cobbler's stall and tries on a pair of seven-league boots. Stamping his feet to see how they fit, he inadvertently takes a step . . . and ends up seven-leagues away! Good thing Sir Oeric was around to fetch him back again.

Torkom the Fortune Teller: With Torkom, we have our first real glimpse of goblins in the universe of Goldstone Wood. And an unusual glimpse it is, hinting at things to come in later books. Una sees him as small, huddled and fanged one moment, then beautiful and elegant the next. Those of you who have read later in the series can guess that Torkom is wearing, at least partially, the enchanting veils of Arpiar. But he is outside of Arpiar, so they don't work very well, leaving his ugly goblin self exposed.

And it's interesting to note that Sir Oeric, who is also a goblin, doesn't wear any disguises at all, but is simply ugly. Yet he is far more trustworthy than Torkom!

Una's ring: Another important feature of this novel is glimpsed in this scene. Una wears a ring of clustered opals given to her by her mother, which Torkom immediately recognizes as "A gift of the heart." Foreshadowing!!!!

Una's Fortune: The scene where Una glimpses "her fortune" in the dragon scale was a later edition to the story. In early versions, I merely had her grab the scale and burn her hands, but she did not see the image of the Dragon. In one of the later drafts, I decided to give us our first glimpse of the Dragon much earlier--here in chapter one--and go on to have him appear in her dreams from  time to time. Created a stronger sense of building tension, I thought.

My Personal Favorite Lines:

Nurse, who had long since ceased to function as a real nurse and these days played the part of maid and busybody to her princess, wielded a brush with the tenderness of a gardener raking last year's dead leaves, making every effort to tame Una's honey-colored hair into an acceptable braid. (p. 15)

To pay their respects, according to the definition given the phrase by the courtiers of Oriana Palace, was a tactful way to say, investigate marriage possibilities with the resident princess. (p. 16)

With that, she turned on her heel and marched down the corridor, the blind cat trotting behind, unlike a dog in every way because, of course, he wasn't truly following her. He merely happened to be going her way. (p. 17)

"Nothing ever changes, Monster."
Una looked down her nose at him. "You're not just saying that, are you? Trying to make me feel better?"
"I knew it." (p. 17)

Monster took a moment to rub a cheek against the young prince's knee before dodging Felix's backhand and arranging himself on the windowsill to catch the sunlight. (p. 17)

Out of the Wood they streamed in parade--carrying with them the scent of dusk, the sound of dawn--and they arranged themselves upon the lawn outside the walls of the city of Sondhold, in the shadow of Goldstone Hill. (p. 19)

The hubbub bubbled all the way to the crest of Goldstone Hill and flowed on into the palace, where Princess Una sat with her nose in her history text, wallowing in academic misery. Dates and battles and dead king's names swam before her eyes while spring fever, cruel and demanding, picked at the back of her brain. (p. 22)

Questions for the Text:

1. Una is asked to make a bargain at the twelve year market, a bargain which, come Moonblood, Lionheart will actually make. What was this bargain?

2. If you could purchase anything from this Twelve-Year Market, which of the Faerie wares described would you choose?

3. What were some of your favorite lines in this chapter?


Hannah said...

This was a very interesting chapter the first time I read it. I really had no idea what to think of the fairie folk.

1. Una is asked for a strand of her hair. She doesn't give it, but Lionheart gives one of his to another dealer in the third book. As far as I know, we still haven't found out what fairies do with those strands. But I'll stick with Eanrin's advice and keep my hair firmly fixed to my head. :)

2. Well...the cloth woven from the scents of summer sounds nice. But the lady didn't seem very kind, and anyway some scents of summer aren't great. I mean, come on...sweat, sun-ripened dung...
If having unicorn fry was no more wrong than having goldfish, I'd take some of those...depending on the price...tricky, those faerie prices are...

3. "See how big I made the nose on this one?"
The tutor winced. "A remarkable likeness, your highness."
"Doesn't look a thing like him," Una said.
Felix made a face. "Not supposed to. This one's you."

Bookishqueen said...

2. I would most definitely buy the unicorns! I love unicorns and I like fish so I would want one of those.

Meredith Burton said...

This chapter was so wonderful in it's interweaving of magic and mundane daily activities. Just shows how you never know what a day will bring. Loved the how Una talks to Monster. I talk to my cat all the time, and, yes, she understands. Now, that doesn't mean she thinks that what I say is important! Ha!

I'm answering these, but would please like to request that I not be included in the giveaway simply because I want others to have opportunities to receive these outstanding books.

1. Una is tempted to give Torkem her ring in exchange for having her fortune told. However, the real bargain is on behalf of the dragon. He somehow targets Una through Torkem's trickery. Question: Were the Dragon and Torkem in cahoots?
2. "Your day was a singularly unromantic one, Nurse."
"You'd better believe it!"
I love Nurse's character! She made me laugh out loud.
The line about the scent of the sea carrying spices from other worlds. Beautiful
3. I would buy the unicorn fry.

Take care, and God bless you. Thanks for this read-along.

Emily Bennett said...

2. I would definitely buy a sea unicorn! :)

Clara said...

2. Seven-league boots for sure. It would be so fun to travel seven legues in one step! Got to watch out for the sea, though...

3. "I like romantic drivel." She stepped from her room and, just as the door swung shut behind her, she called over her shoulder, "Your day was a singularly unromantic one, Nurse!"
The door clunked, and Nurse's voice came muffled from behind. "You'd better believe it!"

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

I think I would probably buy a sea unicorn too. How cute would it be, swimming around in a little bowl on my desk, singing its strange songs? Anybody have any music to share that might work for a sea unicorn song??? That would be fun to hear!

I also think I would be totally intrigued by Malgril's wares. A little, moveable figurine just sounds like fun!

Jill Stengl said...

2. I particularly like the figurines that move when you blink. Charms like ancient golems sound fascinating and scary! But as Hannah said, much would depend on the price. I'd rather keep my firstborn son and my teeth and hair. Makes me worry about cleaning out my hairbrush. . .

Clara said...

Anne Elisabeth: you asked about a song for a sea unicorn. I just made up a melody to one of your poems, and I was wondering if you would mind if I posted it on my blog? I didn't think you would mind, but I wanted to be sure. :)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Oh, I would love it, Clara! Post it on your blog and do please share a link here as well! :)

Camryn Lockhart said...

Una was asked to give a strand of hair, which Lionheart gave to Torkam, I think? I laugh every time I read the scene where Eanrin gets Lionheart's hair back. :)

There are too many favorite parts to count. I love Una and Felix's interplay because it reminds me of my conversations with my brothers. :) But one of my favorite parts was:
'Una looked out.
“Oh,” she said.
“Meeeea.” Monster looked smug.
Felix was on his feet and at her side in a moment. He too looked down. “Oh,” he said.
The tutor, frowning, came around from behind his desk and joined them at the window. He looked as well and saw what they saw. His mouth formed an unspoken “Oh.”'

I think I'd buy the kettle that sang familiar old tunes when the water boiled. That way I could sing along while cooking! :)

In Christ,
~ Camryn

Arielle Melody Bailey said...

Hi Anne,

I'd love to do the read-along but I'm having a bit of a problem.

When my mom went to Amazon to download the free ebook, there is a green box on the side that says, "This title is not available for customers from the United Stats." Do you know why it is saying that?

Molly said...

2. I would most definitely choose the cloth "woven from all the scents of summer."
For my sister, who LOVES tea, I would get her the singing kettle. =)

3. My favorite line from this chapter has to be when Una and Felix want to look around and King Fidel says, "Very well--" and Una and Felix shot off.
Also one is when Una bursts out of the palace saying "Father!" and it has the bit where it says 'Una burst into the courtyard, shouting like a little girl and hardly caring that she drew the eyes of the stable boys and footmen sanding by.'

I might have tried to answer question 1 but I misunderstood it until I read the other comments, and then, of course, I knew the answer but i didn't want to cheat, so I didn't put the answer down.

@Clara: oh, cant wait to see your song! (p.s. I read your blog all the time, I just can't comment, but the problem is our computer I use)

Cannot wait for tomorrow's post! :p

Anonymous said...

1. A strand of Una's hair

2. Unicorn fry (So Cute!)

3. "At what are you so diligently working, Prince Felix?" he asked. His voice never varied from a mournful drone.
Felix held up his essay full of doodles.
The tutor winced. "Most amusing, Your Highness."
"See how big I made the nose on this one?"
"A remarkable likeness, Your Highness."
"Doesn't look a thing like him," Una said.
Felix made a face. "Not supposed to. This one's you."

Q. How did you come up with the idea for the Wood?


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@ Miss Melody Muffin: I am so sorry you're having trouble downloading the story! It definitely SHOULD be available in the United States. Most of the people downloading it are US folks. Maybe try it again today . . . might have just been an amazon glitch . . .

Victoria said...

1. A strand of her hair for a flower.
2. Ever since I read about the Twelve-Year Market, I've had my eye fixed on that silver statue of a centaur!
3. That line about "Dates and battles and dead kings' names" was one of my favorites. When I read it, I thought, "Finally! Someone who shares my views on history!" :) (I like history better now than I did when I first read the book.)
Also, I loved "...unlike a dog in every way because, of course, he wasn't truly following her. He merely happened to be going her way." Written by a true cat-owner! :)

Anna C. said...

If I was to buy anything from the Twelve-Year Market, I'd definitely go with the Seven League Boots. They might be slightly dangerous, but how fun would it be to travel seven leagues with a step?!?

Jennette said...

I love the description of the twelve-year market. I think that is what hook me in this story.

1. Blossoms for a single strand of hair.

2. I'd like the unicorn fry, if I could just buy it outright with money and not make some kind of bargain. ha!

3.I love the interaction between Nurse and the princess as well as between brother and sister.

Anonymous said...

Well, we know her eyes AREN'T 'limpid blue'.

1) A strand of hair.
2) Unicorn fry
3) "Your years must be much longer then."
"And shorter, your majesty.
A wider and taller."

I'm paraphrase for '3'. So it's probablly off.

Arielle Melody Bailey said...

It worked today! I can't wait to start reading!