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Historical Mysteries Guest Post

I thought it would be fun to have some guest writers on my blog, so I asked a couple of other authors to write me some “favorite books” posts. I know I write fantasy, but I READ a lot of different things, and my first guest is a mystery writer.

Carol Malone writes historical mysteries, frequently with a sports tie-in and a romantic subplot. And here she is to tell us how she got started. πŸ™‚

***

Why I love historical mysteries.

By Carol Malone

I found a copy of Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee,” written in 1929, at a used bookstore. I was a mystery fan and a wannabe mystery writer and wanted to study the way a master mystery writer tells a story. So, for a buck, I delved into the fascinating world of the little Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, the curious man with the egg-shaped head and the passion— no, more like obsession—with order. Can you say Obsessive Compulsive?

He liked to mention that he used his “little grey cells” to solve mysteries so complex the reader just scratches his/her head and stares wide-eyed as the intrepid little man solves the crime with aplomb.

The story of “Black Coffee,” is a tale about a scientist in the 30s England who has discovered the formula for a massive weapon to kill hundreds of thousands of people. He contacted Detective Poirot with the suspicion that someone in his family wanted to steal his formula. He needed Poirot to hand-carry it to the English version of the Defense Department. But before Poirot arrived with his trusty detecting sidekick, Hastings, the scientist was dispatched.

Little clues were dropped, and the reader is led to believe he/she knows “who-done-it” while being entertained along the way.

The reader follows the little detective with surprise and delight as he charges through his lines of questioning, and the positioning of the suspects, making the reader believe they have solved the crime before Poirot does.

I will not give away anymore of the plot or the list of suspects, but will say this is a short novel, easy to read and understand, but one that will keep the reader on his/her toes until the very end. There were so many false leads and red herrings to keep anyone entertained and fulling involved in the story. Agatha Christie can make anyone fall in love with the genre and cement the reading of mysteries a part of their browsing obsession.

Solving the crime and understanding the intricacies of the mystery is why I love this genre. Even in differing eras of time, Mrs. Christie offers the ability to the reader to act as a silent partner in the world of detecting. She puts you into the character of Poirot to feed some need in a reader’s life.

Our lives are a mystery to be discovered with systematic thoroughness as we live each day not knowing when the next β€œsurprise” will hit us, and we’ll be left figuring out the way to proceed. We all hope we’ll be the detective and not the murderer in our own little adaptation of “Black Coffee.”

Of course, there is the revelation of what makes some people resort to murder and the slap-in-the-face discovery of the sordidness of some human nature as the major stimulant. Christie offers the reader a puzzle of the mind and at the end, the reader can’t help but feel gratified when the plot twists engages and surprise us and eventually, the mystery of the puzzle is solved. I can’t help but feel like I’ve discovered something marvelous at the end of such a book, like I’ve solved a stimulating secret. It’s a heady experience.

All of these are the things that make up historical mysteries are why I adore them so much. I can only hope to do half as well with the mysteries that I produce. I do love me a good whodunit mystery.

***

And that, folks, is Carol Malone, lover of Agatha Christie and other good historical mysteries, and writer in the same genre. But Christie didn’t write much romance, sad to say, and Carol likes to include some in most of her books. Don’t worry—she won’t embarrass you. All her romance is safe-for-work.

If you want to read one of her historical stories, she has a free one available for joining her newsletter. No pressure, honestly.
https://mybookcave.com/direct/ae4a0751/
Or if you want one of her mysteries, they’re available where ebooks are sold.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

My Writing Method, Per Brain

I’ve actually been learning a lot about my own writing over the past three years. I know I’ve told you about developing my outlining system and about some of my experiences with specific books (see the Writing Process tag for posts), but I don’t think I’ve told you what I’ve learned about my own brain.

I’ve been fascinated by personality tests for decades, so when I heard about Clifton Strengths, I was very intrigued. A “personality” system that talks about your strengths in dealing with the world, rather than introversion or sensing or openness? Tell me more! So I took the test and started learning.

Turns out there are good reasons why I love personality theory and learning about everything. I have Individualization (enjoying differences) in my top ten, and Input (collecting stuff–in my case, information) and Learner (obvious…) both in my top TWO. And Intellection (thinking about stuff) in my top five. In fact, my top ten Strengths include FOUR thinking Strengths (and four get-it-done Strengths).

Yes, I spend a lot of time sticking stuff into my brain and then thinking about it and then thinking about how to use it. And then thinking about it just for fun. And then thinking about it some more because I don’t know how to stop. Ahem.

Anyway, when I was trying to learn how to use my brain better to write better AND faster, I concentrated a lot on the lower four of my Top Five, because Input was only useful as a background power for absorbing story and giving me energy pennies. Achiever and Responsibility are get-it-done Strengths, so they seemed obviously useful to, you know, get it done. And Intellection is my steering wheel for life. No, really. It’s not the invisible engine (Achiever and Responsibility–go, go, go!) or the frame (Input and Learner, making the shape), but it’s what I semi-consciously use to drive everything, all the time. First I think, then I do. Learner, of course, is my research superpower.

And indeed, improving my usage of those four did improve my writing speed, along with my improved plotting method. But something still seemed to be missing. If my outline process was pretty much working now, and my research process was pretty much working, and my goals were pretty achievable, what was wrong?

It was only a little while ago that I learned I had underestimated Input. Yep, #1 Input, that I thought was only good for background stuff and energy pennies is actually doing a LOT behind the scenes. I finally realized that Input is the one handing me all the puzzle pieces of the story.

Ideas? Why, thank you, Input.

Characters? Yes, Input has it.

Plot? Hi, Input!

Conflict? Input to the rescue!

I just didn’t realize how much Input was running things. Input, darling girl that she is, keeps shoving new puzzle pieces at me. Most of them don’t fit, so she takes them back again, only to hand me a new selection. It’s the “take back again” that threw me off my understanding. So many false starts, so Input isn’t really helping, right? Surely it’s Intellection’s pondering that’s finding my ideas.

Not really. Eventually, something will click, and Intellection will grab a piece and smoosh it down into the outline. There it goes! And Learner will run off to research how to make everything fit together, and Achiever will update the outline with the new plot points and characters. And then Input will nod and shuffle through her puzzle pieces to see what else might spark ideas (no matter how little they might resemble each other on the surface). Yep, it was Input’s idea in the first place, and she’s ready to go find the next one.

Which means that all the crazy reading I do isn’t just giving me energy pennies (still very important), it’s filling out a ton of pieces for Input to shuffle around when I’m brainstorming.

I’m sure you’ve heard writers talk about where their ideas come from—overheard conversations, random thoughts, etc. Mine come from Input handing me a strange collection of puzzle pieces and seeing if any fit together. Never mind that the colors don’t match, because if the edges are the same shape, Input can turn them into a new photomosaic. You just won’t see the whole picture until she’s finished. πŸ˜‰

Yep, Input runs the show very quietly in the background, and you never quite know what she’ll come up with. But it will be amazing. You’ll never be able to tell that the puzzle pieces didn’t originally come from the same picture, because the picture will be soooo cool.

Now, back to writing for me, and for you, back to… what are you working on?
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Why Should You Read My Book Lists?

I’ll be honest–I think I’ve gone through every category in my Goodreads and given you my favorites. I’ll still post a “favorite books this year” every year, but what else would like from my book review posts? Or should I stop doing them (except the yearly review) and just do writing posts?

While you’re thinking about that, here’s a summary of what sort of books I tend to read, and how I tend to rate books. You know, if you want to know if I like the same things you do. πŸ˜‰

As of the middle of July, 2022:

2.97 avg stars. Yes, I’m a harsh grader. I don’t actually have very many 1 stars, relatively speaking, but I do give a lot of 2 & 3 star ratings. On the other hand, I consider a 3-star book to be perfectly acceptable. I probably won’t reread it, but I don’t consider it a waste of my time. Two stars were a waste, and one stars get angry rants. Four stars means I really liked it and would reread happily, and five stars means I’m probably going to buy it.

Numbers are rounded. Some categories cross fiction/non-fic lines, but I’ve done my best to sort them by the most common occurrences.

Audience:
children β€Ž(500)
juv-ya β€Ž(4000)
adult β€Ž(4000)

Fiction Genres:
action-adventure β€Ž(400)
beast-tales β€Ž(400)
comedy β€Ž(200)
comics β€Ž(100)
family-child β€Ž(600)
fantasy β€Ž(3000)
fiction β€Ž(2000)
historical-1700s β€Ž(100)
historical-1800s β€Ž(500)
historical-1900s β€Ž(400)
historical-ancient β€Ž(100)
historical-medieval-renaissance β€Ž(300)
historical-pioneer-oldwest β€Ž(100)
historical-regency β€Ž(300)
historical-roman-circa β€Ž(100)
horror β€Ž(100)
mystery-puzzles β€Ž(800)
picture-bk β€Ž(300)
poetry-theatre β€Ž(50)
romance β€Ž(1000)
sci-fi β€Ž(1000)
short-stories β€Ž(500)
sports β€Ž(50)
steampunk-gaslamp-flintlock β€Ž(200)

Non-fiction Genres:
biography β€Ž(200)
business β€Ž(100)
camp-hike β€Ž(20)
cognition β€Ž(100)
comedy (200)
cooking β€Ž(50)
craft-sewing β€Ž(10)
education-homeschool β€Ž(50)
family-child β€Ž(600)
finance-economy β€Ž(50)
health β€Ž(100)
various historicals (see #s under fiction)
home-garden β€Ž(60)
literary-linguistic β€Ž(50)
parenting β€Ž(100)
personality-behavr β€Ž(200)
philosophy-psych β€Ž(100)
politics-law β€Ž(50)
preparedness β€Ž(20)
religious β€Ž(400)
science-math β€Ž(100)
social-relationship β€Ž(200)
travel β€Ž(20)
writing β€Ž(20)
writing-business β€Ž(100)
writing-character β€Ž(50)
writing-conflict β€Ž(10)
writing-description-prose β€Ž(20)
writing-dialogue β€Ž(10)
writing-editing β€Ž(10)
writing-emotion β€Ž(10)
writing-plot-structure β€Ž(50)
writing-productivity β€Ž(50)
writing-research β€Ž(10)
writing-worldbuilding β€Ž(10)

Yes, I read a lot of different things. Always have.

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

P.S. Remember to comment to say what you want from future posts!

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Updated Day in the Life of a Writer

The last time I mentioned my writing routine was two years ago, and things have changed since then. So here’s the latest. Keep in mind, it’s a work in progress as I figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.

I don’t write or do business on Sunday, and Saturday tends to be erratic, so this is for weekdays. Minus Thursday, which I will discuss below.

I wake up at 6 am. I shower, dress, eat breakfast, and read my scriptures. I throw a load of laundry into the washer, then I go for a walk (this is new). I don’t actually like exercising right after breakfast, but I’ve discovered that I get it done more often then, and more importantly, it increases the amount of writing I get done. Sigh. So I do it anyway.

In the winter, I walk on my treadmill, because the outside air is too cold to breathe. In the summer, I might go outside. While I walk, I ponder my writing project for the day. If the chapter/story is new, I’ll turn on my phone recorder and talk to myself about the plot, or ask myself questions, or very roughly sketch out scenes or dialogue. If I’m still working on the same chapter/story, I’ll ponder plot holes or where I need to add details. I’m still working up my time & distance, so this walk doesn’t take long. Even so, those few minutes of warming up my brain for writing have made a huge difference.

On Thursday, which is a non-writing day, I’ll plot AHEAD of where I’m working. The next story or chapter, or the next series, or even wishful thinking. I discovered the hard way that I can’t plot story B on a day that I’m writing story A, or else I can’t actually write story A. So I save the extra plotting for when it won’t mess up my writing for the day.

I now have my own office. Yay! It’s the smallest bedroom in my house, but it does have a door to shut out disturbances. I even got a light for the door that glows in different colors so I can color-code my availability. I have white boards and bulletin boards and four bookcases (two are hidden beyond the others) and an extra table. I even have artwork for prettiness. My kids gave me the blue flower triptych, the tree photo was taken by my grandfather, and I embroidered the two pictures by the bookcase. The big whiteboard is for plotting & writing notes, and the smaller one is for tasks & reminders. There’s nothing on them in the pictures because I had just set them up.

Ideally, by 8 am, I’ll be at my desk with a full water bottle. I turn on classical music very, very quietly and try to write new stuff until noon, though sometimes “write” means “outline” or “brainstorm” or “research” or “pick names” or “world build” or any of the other author-y tasks that sometimes have to come before actual writing. (Now that I plot-walk in the mornings and use Thursdays for these tasks, I get more actual writing done on the other days.) I also resort to side tasks when writer’s block is being stubborn or when I don’t feel well.

I’m not particularly fast, but I try to get 1500 words by lunch. With the new addition of my morning walk, I’ve gotten 2000 words moderately regularly, and once or twice as many as 3000. I’d love that to be a regular occurrence. I’m sure you’ve heard of writers who can write 10,000 words/day (good for them!), but I used to get about 5000 per MONTH, tops, so I’m still faster than I used to be. (By the way, don’t compare yourself to others. Nothing good comes of it.)

On Thursday, my critique group takes the place of my morning writing.

After lunch, I take a break and do more-brainless activities, like house cleaning, reading, errands, or social media. I try to get my laundry folded. Sometimes I give up and take a nap.

Around 1 or 1:30 pm, I get back to work. After a quick spin through my email, I spend some time editing my own work and/or beta reading/critiquing other people’s stuff. I also use this time to go over my own beta feedback. I love my beta readers. πŸ™‚ I love finding out what’s working in my stories and what needs to be fixed. (If you’d like to be a beta reader, let me know…)

Most of the time, beta reading for others is also fun, since I tend not to accept beta reads that bore me. Reading other writers’ works-in-progress is actually a good way to learn more about your own writing, by the way. Somehow, it’s easier to see mistakes in someone else’s work, and THEN apply the lesson to yourself.

In a couple of hours, I switch to business things like marketing, budgeting, or formatting. This is not the funnest part of my day, but it needs to be done. Always keep track of the business stuff, guys, or you’ll be sorry later. As you set up your system, try to imagine how much trouble it will be doing it that way when you have a lot MORE of it. Granted, you will still probably have to redo your system at some point, but planning ahead might postpone the remodel.

I stop either when my husband gets home (on days someone else cooks) or when I need to go make supper. Occasionally I have an important task that has to be finished after supper, but I try not to do that too often.

Did I miss anything you wanted to know? Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Happy writing,
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Favorite Writing-Business & Productivity Books

In random order:

Successful Self-Publishing: How to self-publish and market your book in ebook and print, by Joanna Penn

Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should (Let’s Get Digital, #1), by David Gaughran

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki

Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream, by Craig Martelle

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published, by Sheree Bykofsky

Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts, by Joanna Penn

Author 2.0 Blueprint, by Joanna Penn

Pulp Speed for Professional Writers: Business for Breakfast, Volume 9, by Blaze Ward

The Secrets of Success, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (it’s a single chapter/booklet, but a lot to ponder)

Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, by Mark Coker

HOW I SOLD 80,000 BOOKS: Book Marketing for Authors, by Alinka Rutkowsky

Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, by Helen Sedwick

You Must Write: Success Through Heinlein’s Rules, by Kevin McLaughlin. No, I don’t believe everything he says, but I did pick up some useful things.

Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, by Becca Syme. I’ve become a big fan of the Write Better-Faster community.

Happy writing,
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Hogwarts Houses

Just for the fun of it, I thought I would tell you which Hogwart House each of my main Kaiatan characters falls into it.

First, a brief discussion of the Houses themselves.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking as if Griffindor is the GOOD House, and Slytherin is the BAD House, and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are the OTHER Houses. Um, no. True, a lot of people from Slytherin followed Voldemort, because of the inherent weakness of that House (which I’ll discuss in a minute), but so did some people from the other Houses. Each House had their own strengths and weakness.

Griffindor

Griffindor is known for courage. That’s their strength, and it’s a pretty bold and impressive one. But Griffindors can be reckless and arrogant. They sometimes charge ahead without planning or without consideration for fallout on other people.

Hufflepuffs

Hufflepuffs are known for loyalty and honesty and just plain liking people. Those are very strong values, but they are also quieter, so the Hufflepuffs are frequently underestimated, which is a shame. They make great friends and teammates. Their weaknesses tend to be naivety and low-self esteem.

Ravenclaw

Ravenclaw is known for scholarship, curiosity, and individualism. These traits ought to be valued, especially by the impulsive Griffindors, but alas, they frequently aren’t. On the con side, Ravenclaws can isolate themselves from the world or other people, and sometimes they’re arrogant because they think they know more.

Slytherin

Slytherins want to be the best, and they have the work ethic to practice until they are great. They are resourceful and determined and willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. Alas, they care more about “their” people than about people in general, which can make them heartless and biased. And “whatever it takes” doesn’t always run through the filters it should. The combination of biased and “whatever it takes” is why so many of them followed Voldemort.

My characters

I have four main characters in most of my Kaiatan series, and they each fall into a different Hogwarts House. No, I didn’t plan it that way; they’re just very different people.

Ahjin

Ahjin is my winged Griffindor. He won’t cave to bullies and refuses to go along with the status quo if he doesn’t think it’s fair. He’s brave and steadfast and a determined leader. On the other hand, like a typical Griffindor, he sometimes charges ahead without planning, and he doesn’t always consider how other people might feel about what he does.

Nia

Nia is a mermaid (without a tail). Like a Hufflepuff, she likes people—all people. She’s loyal and cheerful and tries to encourage her friends. She doesn’t have low self-esteem, but like many Hufflepuffs, her optimism can blind her to reality and lead her into trouble. The poor girl thinks everyone should be friends, but alas, it doesn’t always work that way.

Zefra

Zefra is definitely a Ravenclaw. She’s always thinking and planning. She doesn’t mind being different from other people because she knows what she wants and if being different is what it takes, that’s fine. But she forgets that she needs people, not just plans, and her friends have to drag her back into living, not just working. She also forgets that other people might also have good plans.

Ludik

Ludik is a shapeshifter, and he’s my Slytherin. No, he’s not a villain. He likes being good at what he does, and he works hard to accomplish his goals. He’s very loyal—to “his” people, his friends. Sadly, he doesn’t care much about strangers at first and has to learn that everyone is important. Fortunately, his sweetheart is a Hufflepuff and eventually softens that side of him.

So there you go—one character in each House. What about you? What House calls to you? Leave me a comment. πŸ™‚

Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Favorite Plotting Books

I know, I already listed my favorite writing books. But I recently went through and sorted my craft books for my own purposes, so I thought maybe it was time to update my list. So here are my favorite writing books that are about (or partly about) plotting and outlining.

First, my absolute favorites.

The Last Fifty Pages: The Art and Craft of Unforgettable Endings, by James Scott Bell. Okay, so it only talks about plotting the END of the book, but it’s a great book for that. I mean, great!

The Heroine’s Journey, by Gail Carriger. I used to really struggle to fit my stories into the Hero’s Journey plot points, and I thought maybe I was just too stupid to figure out. Then I read this book and discovered that I was using the wrong plot structure. I write heroine’s journeys (which can be used for male or female characters). Ta da! Problem solved! If you only write Hero’s Journey stories, don’t worry about this one (though it’s fascinating).

Next, we have a bunch of actual plotting methods.

Building Better Plots, by Robert Kernen

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, by Noah Lukeman

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success, by K.M. Weiland.

Story Engineering: Character Development, Story Concept, Scene Construction, by Larry Brooks

Story Pitch: The How To Guide For Using A Pitch To Create Your Story, by Scott King. Create a plot from a 30-second summary.

Plotting Your Novel, by Janice Hardy.

Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between, by James Scott Bell. If you don’t feel like a plotter but think outlining would improve your story or writing speed, try this one. It starts with just three plot points–beginning, middle, and end–and tells you how to write from there.

And then some ways to improve your plotting method, or other “side” information that isn’t necessarily strict structure.

Behind the Book: Making The Death of Dulgath, by Michael J. Sullivan. A glimpse into the mind of a writer as he plots and writes an actual book. (If you haven’t read the book, I suggest doing that first, since this has major spoilers.) I discovered that my plotting PROCESS is pretty similar to Sullivan’s, so this book was a comforting revelation to me.

Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology, by Brandon Sanderson et al. Like Dulgath, this is a glimpse into the process of writing & revision.

The Fantasy Fiction Formula, by Deborah Chester. So many tips on how to make your plot have the effect on readers that you want it to.

GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction, by Debra Dixon. It really helps set up the conflict that will run your plot.

Understanding Conflict and What it Really Means, by Janice Hardy. Like GMC, it helps you make your plot beats more effective, but it works with any plot structure.

The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes, by Donald Maass. Like Fantasy Fiction Formula and GMC, this can improve the effect of your plot on your readers.

Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew, by Ursula K. LeGuin. How to get structure to work for you.

Pulp Speed for Professional Writers: Business for Breakfast, Volume 9, by Blaze Ward. How to use plotting to increase your writing speed.

The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers, by Matt Bird. General story tips to improve your favorite plotting method.

How to Write Killer Fiction, by Carolyn Wheat

Writing Fiction for Dummies, by Randy Ingermanson

What’s your favorite plotting book or method?

Happy writing,
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Legends 2

I was telling you about how I wrote the “fairy tales set on my fantasy world.”

Now that I had all the source-tales selected and assigned to cultures, with factors chosen for each and the rough outlines done, the next step was actually writing. My main goal was to rewrite the fairy tales as if they came from my own fantasy world, but each story ended up handling the source material in different ways. Some of the stories are based on different versions of the same fairy tale (like Snow White), some are based on similarly themed stories (like The Stonecutter), and some are the result of firmly mashing together completely different tales while cackling wildly (Twelve Dancing Princesses + Ali Baba & the 40 Thieves + Rumplestiltskin. Underwater. With mermaids and pirates.). *shrug* When I got to the last story, I even threw a ballad into the mix.

For whatever reason, the two most wildly mashed-up stories ended up being set in the same culture. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the culture… The Nokai are rather interesting. (They’re the mermaids-without-tails who think that there’s no such thing as too many parties. Don’t think that makes them only silly–they have plenty of experience hunting sharks, and they’ll happily bat their eyelashes at you while they bargain you out of your last coin.)

For various reasons, including chance, I ended up writing the long stories first. Some of them went fairly quickly (for me) and were pretty close to being finished after a draft or two. Some had to be majorly rewritten. The Japanese story about a stonecutter who kept wishing to be more powerful was problematic, and I had to change the entire character arc to make it fit the romance I wanted it to be. Grrr, I hate that! But it’s a better story now, which was the point.

I got partway through Red Riding Hood and had to delete half a chapter because I suddenly realized it was turning dark–way too dark! I don’t write dark, and I really wanted the story to be funny, so I had to back up and reconfigure a motive. In case you’re wondering, I can describe the finished story as “What if Red Riding Hood was the wolf?”

Then the last story stalled completely because The Frog Prince depends on magic my world doesn’t have. But I really liked the story, so I polled the internet for stories that fit a partial idea I had, and found a ballad that fit my needs. (Scarborough Fair, if you wanted to know.) By the time I finished fixing the problems, the ballad was the main source and The Frog Prince had become one aspect in the story, along with The Brave Little Tailor and Cupid & Psyche. I see those skeptical looks you’re giving me… Really, it works. πŸ˜‰

Some stories needed more research than others, too. The frog story, for instance, made me look into seaweed harvesting, wool infections, and the average rate of spinning thread. Yes, that’s all for the same story. I promise, it makes perfect sense within the story. πŸ™‚

And as a bonus for my beloved readers, one of the stories is exclusively available through my newsletter. I took Dick Whittington and Puss in Boots and smooshed them together into The Cat’s Fortune. And it’s FREE! (With a signup to my newsletter…)

On another world, so long ago that truth has faded into legend, a cat and a boy seek their fortune together. You think you know the story, but do you?

Orphaned and homeless, young Aktar travels to the city of Rapata for a better life.

But it seems the rumors of gold-paved streets are false. Can he find a home and a job before he starves?

Maybe with the help of a foundling kitten.

A retelling of Puss in Boots and Dick Whittington, set on the fantasy world of Kaiatan, home of the Unexpected Heroes.

Click here to get the free story!

It will give you something to read while you wait for the rest of the Legends to come out, May 2022. Preorder available now at your favorite retailer!

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Next Book and Preorders—Oh My!

For the first time, I have a book going up for preorder months before publication!

Here’s a blurb for you:

You think you know the storiesβ€”12 Dancing Princesses, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, The Frog, The Stonecutter, and more…

But what if they didn’t happen that way? What if they really occurred on another world and the true tales were lost in the mists of time?

From the world of Unexpected Heroes, read the true Legends of Kaiatan.

Or if you prefer something even shorter:

Retold fairy tales set on a fantasy world of mermaids, shifters, and winged people.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with them. πŸ™‚

What if the girl in Red Riding Hood WAS the wolf? What if a mere kiss wasn’t enough to turn a frog back into a man? What if the twelve princesses (okay, I may have tweaked that a little, too) were trapped in an underwater cave—but that part is okay because they’re mermaids?

Like I said, I’ve been having a lot of fun bending the original fairy tales to fit my own ideas. πŸ˜‰ Some of them are based on different versions of the same fairy tale, some are based on similarly themed stories, while some are the result of firmly mashing together completely different tales while cackling wildly. *shrug* It was fun for ME. I hope it will be just as much fun for you.

It does sound like fun, you say? Where can you get it, you say?

I’m glad you asked! Did you notice I have a new setup for my Books page? https://mcleebooks.com/my-books/ And it has allllll the info you need. Please note that the preorder is already up at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. Amazon will come later, but it will come, as will a bunch of other retailers that don’t do preorders. You can also ask your local library to stock it so you can read it for free. πŸ˜€ May 24th, 2022 is the magic day it will be available everywhere as an ebook. Print books will come out by the end of the year.

But you can’t wait that long?

Ooh, do I have a fun present for you! One of the stories is exclusively available through my website. I took Dick Whittington and Puss in Boots and smooshed them together into The Cat’s Fortune. And it’s FREE! (With a signup to my newsletter…)

On another world, so long ago that truth has faded into legend, a cat and a boy seek their fortune together. You think you know the story, but do you?

Orphaned and homeless, young Aktar travels to the city of Rapata for a better life.

But it seems the rumors of gold-paved streets are false. Can he find a home and a job before he starves? Maybe with the help of a foundling kitten.

A retelling of Puss in Boots and Dick Whittington, set on the fantasy world of Kaiatan, home of the Unexpected Heroes.

Click here to get the free story!

Okay, that’s all for today, folks! Enjoy the anticipation (and the free book).

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.

Writing Update: Legends 1

I just finished the final edits on Legends of Kaiatan, which is pretty exciting! Looking back at old posts, I promised to tell you about them, so now seems like a good time.

I had the idea for this story collection a long time ago, back when I was working on… books 3 & 4, I think. At the time, the premise was pretty vague. Stories “loosely based on Earth fairy tales, as they would be if they came from Kaiatan.” Back then, I frequently used Red Riding Hood as the example when I was gushing to people. What would that story look like in a land of shapeshifters? (Oddly, Red ended up being almost the last story I finished, because it gave me troubles. Ahem.)

When I finished book 5 (the contemporary short stories) and started working on the fairy tales, they gave me more trouble than I expected. As is always the case.

I started by reading through all of Andrew Lang’s “colored” Fairy Books. Yes, all of them, I think. Plus some Asian and Irish and English fairy tales and some Greek/Roman myths and the Arabian Nights. So much reading… Fortunately, I like reading.

As I read, I made notes about potential story ideas. Anything based on pure magic wouldn’t work, since Kaiatan doesn’t have “magic that can do anything at all.” Anything with ghosts as a vital part wouldn’t work. Actually, lots of them wouldn’t work. Sigh. But I did end up with a list of 20-30 fairy tales that MIGHT work.

From there, I sorted the ideas into the Kaiatan cultures that would work best. Then I took the list to my critique group and discussed possibilities. Finally, I selected ten stories that I thought I could write well. Armed with that list, I started plotting.

I wanted a variety of stories, so I chose some to be romantic and some not, some long and some short, some funny and some serious. And mixed those up among the cultures. Yes, I am very good at over-thinking. It’s a superpower of mine. On the other hand, it does let me give you some very deep worldbuilding and interconnected plots…

I copied summaries of the source tales into my plotting files and started sorting the different versions into major plot beats, marking differences. For instance, in the Snow White story, I noted the different villains (not always the step-mother, did you know?) and forms of murder, as well as the general timeline.

I spent weeks copying and pasting and summarizing and reordering and deleting and altering…

Once I had the plot beats identified, I started deleting what I couldn’t use and translating what I wanted to keep into outline notes.

In the process, some ideas died and had to be replaced with others. I thought I was going to use Icarus, for instance, but even though it’s a winged story already and I have winged people, when I started plotting, I couldn’t make it work. Le sigh. All my ideas should be good ideas, but sadly, that isn’t true.

And I’ll talk about the actual writing in the next post. πŸ˜‰

Happy reading,
Marty C. Lee

Β© 2022 M. C. Lee LLC. All rights reserved.