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A Rose by Any Other Name: A Rant on Titles

It’s like people are determined to ruin my childhood or something. Okay, okay, drama aside, let me explain. The books, the books that defined my teenage years for me were, okay, yes, the Anne of Green Gables series, and, yes, Little House on the Prairie, and various teen romance series that were probably too steamy for me to be reading, and Robin Cook thrillers, and Isaac Asimov sci-fi extravaganzas… but I digress. Where was I? The series that I loved, one of those that almost clammer for a screen adaptation, but resolve themselves to staying literature only, was The Kingdom series by Cynthia Voigt.

What I loved about the series was mostly the second book, On Fortune’s Wheel, which is terribly romantic, but the third book, The Wings of a Falcon ended up ultimately being my favorite as I got older. Something about two friends making it through everything…it just sticks with me to this day. The first book is Jackaroo, the plot of which at first seems like a knockoff of Robin Hood. And it is, sort of, but the world of The Kingdom, quiet, contemplative, and somewhat melancholy, draws you in. The series just has this rare quality of making the reader feel like you are there. You are going through this, too. This quality is likely why Voigt is such a successful writer of young adult stories.

Anyway, I learned today, just in looking up the series to see if I wanted to buy newer copies, that um, they’ve changed the titles. All of them. Well, the fourth book, Elske, is now The Tale of Elske, and it’s my least favorite of the series, so that one didn’t disappoint me too much.  But the others! I just can’t believe it! Jackaroo, On Fortune’s Wheel, and The Wings of a Falcon have all been changed to The Tale of Gwyn, The Tale of Birle, and The Tale of Oriel. Three wonderful, intriguing titles exchanged for stupidly bland titles that fail to reflect the fact that The Kingdom books, although set in the same world, aren’t sequels, aren’t part of a large, overarching quest or plot, and are each really their own stories almost entirely. It’s almost as stupid as changing D.M. Cornish’s awesome series title Monster Blood Tattoo into Tales from the Half-Continent.

Why do publishers or authors or whoever do this? Blander titles are supposed to sell more books? Really? It would be like me changing my series, Trolls for Dust, to Vale Studios. Boring! Now, if they’d changed them to more interesting titles, I would maybe be on board, but this… Well, my childhood is long over, anyway, and one can’t go back, not really. My memories of those happy reading days will have to suffice. I will treasure my dog-eared original titles and refuse to replace them unless they become absolutely unreadable due to wear and tear.

This winter I want to read the entire series again and go through for you what I love about it and why you or your teenagers might like it too. They will be the same stories, despite the names being changed, but I disagree with Juliet. Names of things matter. Names show identity, they show who you belong to, who loves you, sometimes who hates you. Names can be blessings or curses, beatifying or insulting, and changing a book’s title is no small thing, just like changing one’s own name is no small thing. It is a transformation no matter how one looks at it. The object or person is simply different after. Most of the time, I hope, for the better, but this required a rant because the original titles are infinitely more suitable for the series, and the new titles woefully inadequate. And don’t even get me started on the new covers.

The Kingdom

The covers and titles I grew up with.

A World in Shadows

Maybe it’s all the rain we had today, or the fact that I saw a–double rainbow!!–but I am feeling like writing a poem, only I haven’t written a poem in years. A bulb is out in my favorite lamp that I got from a dear friend and the shadows it casts on the ceiling are perfect for writing a poem, probably what should an epic one, but I can’t seem to find the right words.

lamp shadows

Galaxies, creation, the dance of the stars, the dance of romance.  It’s all in there.  Casablanca and great old movies are in there, as well as The Great Gatsby, Orson Welles, and drops of Jupiter.  I am writing a non-poem, poem here.  Darkness and light.  Dripping candles. Greek columns of tragedy, and just the sense of a world apart from our present one. What stories lie in shadows on the wall!  I could stare at it forever and never figure out the tale, because the tale is in my heart tucked away somewhere for safekeeping.

Last notecard for “The Stolen Necklace” tomorrow. I’m sad to see the story end. The desire was very strong to just end it with one word from Lord Dovecoat, and I could have, but I thought it best to end how it began, with Lady Tolliver.  She is a bit silly, but really not a bad sort after all.

–P. Beldona

The Legend of Cambria: Ad Review

Sometimes one surfs the internet and just comes across something so random yet so amazing that one has to share. I live in Minnesota and we have a great company here called Cambria that makes kitchen countertops and the like. I’ve never visited one of their stores, but their buildings are always impressive and the main campus off of Hwy 169 in LeSueur always has impressive Christmas lights.

Please note that although I think Cambria is an awesome company, this is not an ad for them and I am not affiliated with them, nor have I had the opportunity to work with them. One kind of needs a house or office in which to purchase and install countertops.

Anyway, I was looking at their website today, which is cambriausa.com. On it, they have this movie called The Legend of Cambria and I thought, oh it’s a fun little ad based on medieval legends or something, and then I started to watch it and realized, A) it’s actually about 40+ minutes long, and B) is amazing in its production quality. I literally could not keep my mouth from hanging open. The scenery itself just makes one want to jump into the screen. It is the fantasy lover’s fantasy world.

The story is told in voiceover and has a Lord of the Rings appeal to it. There was a lot of magical elements thrown in that I didn’t really get, but they looked cool, and I’m thinking the plot’s based off of a Welsh legend of some kind, but will have to do more research to find that out for sure.

The Legend of Cambria is advertising, really long advertising that goes beyond being just an ad. It talks heavily about the fight of good versus evil, in a more pagan sort of way, but it makes one think: What’s really important? Just the thought of how much money and work went into producing it is mind boggling. Since I don’t really watch the Oscars anymore, I didn’t know they actually played this at the Oscars and Colin Farrell is the narrator.

I’m just still reeling and thinking, “It’s just a commercial, an ad.” Also, in considering my book series, a stunt like this is something that Sandra Vale of Vale Studios in Trolls for Dust would try to pull off. In thinking of future advertising endeavors for my series, The Legend of Cambria will definitely stick in my mind. You can also watch it on YouTube, and you’ll notice in the comments that people are thinking this is an actual series. Now that’s a compliment of the highest order. That’s my ultimate goal for Trolls for Dust, that it be so good that people would wish it was an actual TV show.

Alright, back to my whittling away at my next fairy tale story and TfD Season 3. Plan to have notecard #9 out for “The Stolen Necklace” tomorrow, but the ideas have to simmer a bit tonight. Happy Friday!

Smoke

The past few days have been a little off health wise, just due to all the smoke coming down from the fires in Canada. I pray they are able to put out the fires soon. If the air quality is this bad in southern Minnesota, I can’t even imagine what it’s like up in British Colombia. Makes me think of Boromir’s speech about Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies: “The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”

So didn’t get a lot of writing done. Print edition for TfD2 is almost ready, just had to fix a few minor issues, and I’m mulling over ideas for the end of the Stolen Necklace, and I have Wednesday set aside to get a least a couple more notecards out for that.

Other things.  Have you heard of Qanon? It is of course written off as a conspiracy theory, but what it really is, is someone (possibly connected with the military and/or Trump admin) getting a whole bunch of people to research stuff online. I just learned about it recently and it’s fascinating, and if true, better than any Hollywood movie or bestselling novel.  It’s just all crazy enough to be true, mostly because evil is really that evil and also really that stupid. Evil doesn’t tend to play the long game. As Q says, “all for a LARP?” (Live Action Role Play). Answer: Don’t count on it. Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire.

One of the few things worth watching on Netflix these days is the movie adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Peel Society. Such a perfectly odd title and both a book and now movie that I’ve recommended to so, so many family and friends. The book’s a little hard to read as most books written in letters are, and the movie was able to shine because they cut down a lot on the letter reading and writing and focused on the characters and plot, making a lot easier to follow.

The setting was great, and if they actually filmed on Guernsey island, what a beautiful, quaint, little place! Should be tourist central.

Only a couple criticisms about the movie: I thought the ending kiss was awkward, but maybe I’m too used to  K-drama kisses now, which are different. The second thing, I would have cast Matthew Goode as the pig farmer.

Goode was the perfect literary agent, Sidney, but he’s massively talented and it just seemed he was wasted in such a small role, especially since he has great onscreen presence, a presence that would have given the movie an anchor that it sorely needed. Sometimes films need a strong onscreen presence for the other actors to rally around and/or contrast their own characters’ presences to, kind of like how all of the planets are situated in certain ways around the sun.

Other than that, the movie was great and a joy to watch. We often forget how hard war really is on just day to day living. You can’t get certain foods, may not be allowed to meet together, and the ground is always shifting (literarily and figuratively) beneath you. It’s one of those maybe rare times when the things that matter most, matter most.

Trolls for Dust, Season 2 avail. for preorder.

TFD FinalTfD2 is finally available for preorder with print version soon to follow. And it’s got the most fantastic cover. 🙂  I tell ya, it’s amazing how much a space can affect things when doing a book layout. Some of my chapter titles weren’t being picked up properly when converting to e-pub and all due to a space!

Next week I plan to continue the notecard story, The Stolen Necklace, so that will be fun, and although I really, really want to get chugging away at TfD3 (and 4), I have this semi-Cinderella tale I want to finish first.  More on that when publication time comes.

Also,  a dear friend of mine who is also a self-publisher has the beginning of a great series on sale called Blood of the Eohim. Check it out, especially if you are an animal lover, because it has animals with super powers in it! I’m not so into animals, but I love how you just know where you stand with them right away, especially dogs. They either love you or want to rip your throat out.

Okay, back to layout and my slow devouring of War and Peace (I am almost to page 500 and really enjoying Tolstoy as a writer.)

As Kay Shree of the Starry-Eyed Press would say: “Peace and Dandelions!” –P. Beldona

June random thoughts

Isn’t it kind of bizarre that a very minor crash is enough to “total” a car? Maybe it’s just because I drive a really old car, but last year I was hit in a roundabout, so we were both going less than 20mph. Think how much we pay for cars, even used ones, and so many accidents and problems often cost a great percentage of what the car is worth to fix. People often complain how a health crisis can throw a family into poverty due to the high costs, well, so can a car crisis. For some, cars are considered a luxury, but in America in most places you really need them to get around. On the flip side, it’s can be a good thing that a minor accident can do a lot of damage, because it probably incentivizes people to drive safer as a whole. If we had indestructible bumper cars, it could mean more would recklessly drive, as a minor hit wouldn’t hurt them or the car.

Notecard story: Planning on getting another card out this weekend sometime. So far it has been a fun and challenging writing exercise and I’m thinking there’s potential homemade Christmas presents in this idea.

Priest slapping baby at baptism video. Not sure how viral this video is, or if you’ve seen it, but it is an amazing example of how parents and especially fathers are the main protectors of their kids. As the mom struggles even against a very old man, to get her baby away from him, it is the father’s physical strength that ultimately succeeds in the getting the kid away. As we recently had Father’s Day, it’s a great example showing how the fact that fathers are both willing and able to protect the ones they love is the primary reason they are needed. Really don’t know what was up with the priest, senility, or as some cry, demon possession of some kind, but it’s certainly scary to watch, especially because in a church and at a baptism that kind of violence is the last thing expected.

Trolls for Dust, Season Two: Revisions and proofreading are underway, and I hope to be able to share the awesome cover soon. I am really excited about this story and I am getting to reveal the longer arc of the series. In rereading Season One, it’s been fun to see that I really like some parts, some maybe could use work, but that as a book as a whole it is a good jumping off point for where Seasons 2, 3, and 4 are going. At first I thought the series would end up being a trilogy, but there is so much going on and so much material that I really want and need to do four books. Hopefully, each book won’t take four years to write, but I think as I get better at writing and storytelling and the whole process, things will come faster and faster over time.

Kid crisis/border crisis: Many Trump supports say that the biggest impact of his presidency is going to be to harshly deal with trafficking, especially child trafficking and abuse. And there’s been thousands and thousands of pedophile and trafficking rings busted all over the world since he’s taken office. The current outcry with kids being held at the US border is a part of this. Many of these children are not with their parents, but with traffickers and abusers. So, it’s just going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Christian apologetics: Attended a conference for that this week and just found it so crazy that like in other fields, politics, medicine, law, etc., religion is the same. People are taught lies and not shown the facts that are available. There’s so much out there indicating the Bible is true, but what is taught in many places is this lie that there is no evidence at all that the Bible is true, and people grow up believing it. Believing in the Bible and Jesus as one’s Savior from sin is a work of the Holy Spirit and of faith, but if that is indeed the truth (and I believe it is), then it makes sense that there would be some amount of actual evidence indicating that it is the truth. It’s actually similar to the whole vaccine topic, because people often hold a different, higher standard for evidence for those two things above and beyond what in regarding other topics and fields they would accept as sufficient evidence. It’s fascinating and it really hit home to me that what evidence is accepted by the individual ultimately says more about the individual than the subject under consideration. We have a harder time with the facts and insist on more evidence when something does not confirm what we already believe, but readily accept almost any evidence that supports our current beliefs. This way of thinking is our nature and very hard to overcome to truly look at and judge things objectively.

–P. Beldona

Your Best

Once in a while in life, one is forced to admit they aren’t giving their best. I had one of those moments not to long ago, not with writing, but with piano. I was accompanist this past year for the high school choir at our church. Most of the songs were easy and they only actually performed a couple of times, so I wasn’t too worried about it. Practice once a week for a bit seemed to be enough–at least for weekly choir practice.

Why, when tasked with this position, didn’t I practice more? The job certainly called for it. I had ample opportunity and access to a grand piano and I had enough time if I would put it aside. The answer was simple: I figured that by practicing a little bit a week, things would just come together. If you are relatively smart yourself, you recognize this attitude. It is the attitude of skating by instead of giving one’s all. Sadly, I spent most of my school years in this mode, having the capability of being an A student and getting by with B’s because, well, other things were so much more interesting than studying. I would throw together research papers the night before and get B’s, sometimes even A’s without even trying or without really considering the topic of the paper. This sounds great, but it has actually has been a great sorrow to me all my life.

Only giving one’s part, not one’s best, eventually will catch up with one, and boy, did it catch up with me the other day. The one song that was really hard for me to play we ended up singing. I hadn’t put in a full effort of practice on it and also hadn’t asked for help in figuring out notes I could leave out in order to make it easier to play. So it was two mistakes, really. In finding out we were actually going to perform the song, I got really angry and blamed the director. Didn’t she know I just couldn’t get it? Wasn’t she concerned I would let everyone down?

But after I cooled off, I admitted to myself that I really hadn’t given my all on it. I hadn’t practiced enough, and worse, I hadn’t taken up the director’s offer of help with it. Swallowing my pride and realizing it was silly to demand we didn’t perform at all because of me, I got help with it, figured out the fingering, and practiced, practiced, practiced. It could have ended up miserable–it really was a difficult song for me to play–but amazingly enough the changes and the practice helped. Most importantly, the change in my attitude helped. I really didn’t want to let those kids down. Both our performances went well and although my playing wasn’t perfect, I felt that I had truly done my best.

My thought after was, “how can some people keep up this passion all the time?” It was an amazing feeling and a little tiring, but it gave me confidence to put in more effort in every part of my life. In writing, especially, I don’t think I’ve even begun to give my BEST. I have so many great ideas and spend a lot of time working and thinking things through, but often still feeling like I’m just skating by. The challenge is making each project my focus for the time I’m working on it. I am so distracted by other things–politics, K-dramas, daydreaming about whatever handsome guy I just met, and so on. If all females are like this, I can see why men tend to be the real achievers in life. I long for that male single-mindedness sometimes, though I suppose they have their distractions as well.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my little story and say that if things aren’t going well, the first step may be admitting to yourself that you are guilty of not giving your best. Even if you fail, if you at least give your best to something, you can let it go without worry. Victory for that project wasn’t going to be yours, yet you tried your hardest to achieve it. That is an accomplishment in and of itself, because it is the shaping and refining of you, of your character. If you didn’t give your best, you’d never really know if you could have had that victory. There would always be that little voice saying “what if? What if I’d simply had given my all and done my best? Would x project have succeeded, then?”

Give your best. Easy to say, hard to do, especially if you’re smart enough to just skate by. It’s a sort of curse that only you can dig yourself out of, because to other people it may seem like you are trying your hardest. But they don’t know you as well as you know yourself. You know when you’re only giving a partial effort. You know the greatness you are actually capable of and the gifts you’ve been given. So, strive, give your best. Have passion in your work and life. The world doesn’t really care how hard you try, it’ll use you up either way.  But YOU care, you really do, which is why that “what if” nags at the back of your mind. Give your best. Refine your character and, win or lose, you’ll have a golden satisfaction in life that can’t come from anywhere else. You can’t be on fire for everything in life, but be on fire for YOUR life. We only get one and what we do on this earth matters more than we can possibly imagine.