September 24, 2018

The Story Behind Fallen

I never thought I'd write a retelling. Oh sure, we can argue that every story comes down to one of a few basic plot lines, which is why we see all those graphics comparing hero journeys like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. But with plenty of ideas in my mind for characters I'd like to visit and get to know, a retelling was never the plan.

And yet... July 13th, 2014, I got to attend the San Francisco Opera's performance of Verdi's La Traviata. The first lines of my retelling, Fallenwrote themselves in my mind even as I was trying to focus on the performance. 

Of course, this wasn't actually my first exposure to this story. An adaptation of the same story will be familiar to many of you: ever heard of the movie Moulin Rouge!? The first time I saw it, the tragic ending destroyed me. (Is it any wonder I usually write romances—i.e. stories with happily ever afters?) By the time I saw the opera, I was a bit more in control of my emotions. But still, the story latched on and wouldn't let go. 

Of course, Verdi's opera is not the original version of this story either. After jotting down the words that hit me while still in the opera house, I decided to read the original source material: La Dame aux camélias [The Lady of the Camellias] by Alexandre Dumas, fils. The story has been adapted numerous times for the stage—as an opera, and multiple ballets and plays—and many times for the screen, including the 1936 film Camille, starring Greta Garbo, and the aforementioned Moulin Rouge!. Clearly, it is a story that resonates with many.

One thing that hit me in both Moulin Rouge! and La Traviata, the only two I'd seen when I started writing*, is that the story is framed around the hero—a young man, naive about the world, who falls in love with a fatally ill courtesan and is transformed by the experience. Unsurprising, as it turned out the original story is told almost entirely from the hero's perspective, recounted after the fact to an interested party (remember how Christian "writes their story" in the end? A direct reference to the original framework).
    *Wanting to preserve my own perspective on these characters, I decided not to explore any other adaptations while writing, beyond the ones I had already seen and the original story. (I actually celebrated finishing the first draft by watching John Neumeier's ballet, which led me to discover the extensive list of adaptations.)

The heroine's perspective in the original is relegated to a letter at the end, explaining the pieces the hero didn't know. Both the opera and 2001 film gave a bit more depth to the heroine, exploring her perspective on the notion of love, but still primarily used her as a learning experience for their heroes. Perhaps this is because in all three versions, the heroine is a woman who sells herself first, and becomes sick second.

Not so in Fallen, where I wanted to focus more on the heroine, on what drives the choices she makes, as well as the reasons behind them. On how a fatal illness shapes her life, her decisions, and of course her relationships.

Still, I was presented with the challenge of bringing a consumptive courtesan's tragic love story into the 21st century. Hopefully, by the time the story is ready for publication, I will have succeeded.

September 12, 2018

Introducing My Brand New Patreon Page!

As many of you know, the last year and a half or so have been a pretty spectacular mess for me, which of course in turn derailed my writing and publishing plans. I'm still trying to recover from all that and find a new "normal." The limited time & energy I can use for work has been necessarily dedicated to the "day" job—work that earns me money.

I'd love to continue creating stories and putting them out there for readers, so I've been trying to figure out a way to make writing a viable option. To that end, I've created a brand new Patreon page, which I hope will end up being an integral part of the solution. 

The basic idea behind Patreon is that Patrons (like you!) offer support in different tiers ($1, $3, etc.), primarily to help Creators (authors, musicians, etc.) continue creating their works. In exchange, Patrons receive rewards, including exclusive content. Patron rewards can be just about anything, and mine currently include first looks at my works-in-progress, behind-the-scenes access, some book-specific goodies, and more. You can check out all the rewards directly on my Patreon page, with absolutely no commitment. Right now, all Patrons will instantly have access to the first three chapters of Fallen!

Any finished stories will continue to be published and available for purchase through retailers, of course, but if you want to be among the first to read them, to see how they come into being, and generally to give me a chance to keep writing them, I hope you'll consider becoming a Patron. Hopefully then, the stories in my head can finally make it onto the page—and out into the world. 💕

I completely understand that not everyone has the ability to lend financial support by becoming a Patron. So I also wanted to include a reminder of some absolutely free ways you can help me keep writing:
  1. Leave honest reviews of my books everywhere you can (on retailers like Amazon, on Goodreads, on your own website if appropriate, etc.).
  2. If you enjoyed a book, tell your friends!
  3. Add my books on Goodreads, including to your TBR list if you haven't had a chance to read yet.
  4. Share my books—or my Patreon page—on your social media, for example by sharing a photo of yourself with the book.
    • Don't have a print copy? Take a photo with your kindle open to the book's cover!
  5. Ask your local library to stock my books (digital or print), then borrow, read, and do #1–4.
  6. Engage with my social media posts so that algorithms help them be seen by more readers.

Bonus (note that this isn't a free method): check out everything available in my Zazzle store, and find your favorite new bookish goodies!

However you support my writing, thank you. I couldn't do this without you. 💕

September 10, 2018

Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

Sunset last night marked the start of the Rosh HaShanah (new year) festivities in the Jewish Calendar. The holiday kicks off the days of awe, a time for apologies and forgiveness, which end with perhaps the most serious holiday in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. 

Rosh HaShanah is celebrated with prayer, the blowing of the shofar (a ceremonial ram's horn), and goodies such as apples dipped in honey and pomegranates. A traditional greeting wishes others a happy and sweet year: Shana Tova Umetuka!

There is a bit more to the holiday, but rather than my going into it all and possibly boring you, how about a video by the awesome a cappella group The Maccabeats: