Friday, May 30, 2014

Romeo and Juliet Retold

I've told you before how much I like YouTube vlogs based on my favorite literature. I watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries all the way through to the bitter end.* I love Kissing in the Rain, and A Tell Tale Vlog, and especially the Autobiography of Jane Eyre.

However, Jane Eyre is winding up. I think we're on Episode 87 or something now. Jane and Rochester appear to sort of be reunited? We can't really tell yet and instead of plot we're getting place holder videos of everyone's feelings except Rochester's** and they've reduced the number of videos per week from two to one.


They can't do this to me!!! I need my story resolution. I'm tired of Adele's feelings, and Grace's feelings, and I'm even a little tired of Jane's feelings. I want to see Mr. Rochester and hear about his feelings in exhaustive detail. 

Anyway, this sent me back to YouTube looking for more lovely stories to consume in 3-8 minute segments. I found something sort of beautiful and amazingly good.

CONFESSION: I've reached a new level of weepyness. Not only have  I cried at the Shire Theme from the Lord of the Rings, but I have also now cried at a vlog made by college students.

What I found was Jules and Monty which was made by some students at Tufts University earlier this year. It is a modern retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" which they wrote, filmed, and produced themselves. AND IT IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD. And, even better, it's actually finished. 

And here's an itty, bitty, tiny SPOILER which I would have enjoyed having before I started watching it: Romeo and Juliet don't kill themselves at the end of this one. Thank heavens. However, it manages to remain very tragic anyway.

Here are the rest of them.



* And it was bitter indeed. Who thinks that was a happy ending in which those two characters had a moral revelation and realized that being together was going to make them better people? No one. Also, dear Bingly was reduced to arm candy. I'm still irked by this.

** The character in whose feelings I am chiefly interested. Always, really. Even though he was so mean to Jane. He regrets it, people! I know he does.

A comic of Mr. Rochester being mean to Jane Eyre.
My friend, Belle, found this and titled it:
The Edward Fairfax Crazypants Rochester School of Courtship

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

All Things Vaguely Beauty and the Beast

I may not have told you this before, but I love "Beauty and the Beast"* and all of the retellings and spin-offs. This includes Hades and Persephone, Cupid and Psyche, "East o'the Sun, West o'the Moon" and all its retellings. I recently made this list for a friend of mine who shares my love for all the Beauty and the Beast things and wanted some to read when she got back from being fabulous in England.**

Please don't use this information to psychoanalyze me. I do that often enough myself.

Tyler-Rose’s Comprehensive List of 

All Things Vaguely Beauty and the Beast

This list excludes movie versions. Also the three Romance novel versions I have discovered since their literary value is highly debatable. However, their titles are available upon request.

* Various versions of the original tale, including the legends of Hades and Persephone, Cupid and Psyche, and the various other iterations that involve marrying dragons, pigs, snakes, and peacocks. The version I have on my shelf is retold by Sir Arthur Quilter Couch.
* Beauty by Robin McKinley
* Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
* Sunshine by Robin McKinley
* Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
* Beastly by Alex Flinn
* The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey
* Keturah and Lord Death by Marine Leavitt
* Cruel Beauty by Rosemond Hodge
* Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
* Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
* Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (I haven’t read this one yet)
* East by Edith Pattou
* Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
* The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
* North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Also, this person's Pinterest which is completely lovely and where I get most of my computer wallpaper.

Please try not to judge me for this.

Painting of Beauty and the Beast by Angela Barrett

UPDATE: The amazing friend I made the list for is going to be referred to on the blog as "Belle" from now on. She says she's pleased. Oh my goodness, do I love the Blog Alias.


* I mean the archetype not the Disney cartoon. Though, I like that too.

** Actually, I think Susan is going to stay at this friend's house on her way back to the US. All I can say is England better watch out. I'm not sure that little island can take this much concentrated awesomeness.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Boy Who Didn't Like Stories

Today, I'm going to do something we don't normally do, and talk about a conversation I really had with a real live person in real life. But I'm definitely not going to say his name and I'm pretty sure he hasn't discovered my blog anyway, so I'm probably pretty safe.

However, let me preface everything that follows by saying that I think he is an absolutely wonderful, brilliant guy who I am totally overjoyed to have in my life.

For the convenience of what follows, let's call him 'Albrecht.'*

So, Albrecht and I were on the last leg of the second rather long drive of the day. It was just him and me in his very nice car and conversation was getting rather sparse. We'd already discussed seafood, our mutual acquaintances,** our living arrangements for the near future, and had vaguely sketched out our summer plans. Silence fell once again. Scrambling for a topic, and as we are fairly new friends, I asked what his post-graduation plans were as it is often quite a fruitful topic, even if somewhat annoying and very commonly asked. He described what he planned to do after he graduated (lucrative mathy and businessy things) and then returned the favor by asking me the same question.

I steeled myself and told the pragmatic young man that I wanted to be a writer. Thus followed the conversation I have with practically everyone who I have to explain my future plans to.

ALBRECHT: What do you want to write?

ME: Novels.

ALBRECHT: What sort of novels?

ME: Uhhh . . . Fictional novels.

ALBRECHT: What sort of fiction?

ME: *sigh* Young Adult Fantasy.

ALBRECHT: Like with magic and stuff?

ME: *groan* Yes. With magic and stuff.

ALBRECHT: Have you written anything yet?

ME: Yes, a couple of drafts. I'm hoping to publish the one I'm working on now.

ALBRECHT: That's cool. Tell me about your story.

Now, while it hasn't never happened before, it is unusual for people to actually inquire about the content of my novel. Even if they do ask, I am usually fairly unthrilled about explaining further after they've already made the "Ew, Children's Books and Fantasy to Boot" face. But Albrecht actually seemed to want me to explain my plot and the magical system of my world as well the writing and publishing process to him. Believe me, I left ample opportunity for the subject to drop but he kept asking intelligent questions which I must admit was a nice change.

Eventually, I asked him--suspiciously--if he read fantasy since he seemed so interested.

ME: Soooo . . . do you read any fantasy?

ALBRECHT: No, I prefer informative non-fiction. I don't like stories. They make you have feelings. I think they're manipulative. I don't like being manipulated. If the message is 'be courageous' why can't people just say that instead of being sneaky about it?***




Because if you're human, you like stories. You ARE a fricking story.

The reason we tell stories instead of going up to people, making a serious face, and saying "be courageous" is because that has exactly zero impact on the human heart and the human heart is the best--and maybe the only--way to the human mind.

We tell stories because some things CAN'T and SHOULDN'T be boiled down into two word catch-phrases. Emotions are too complex for that. Our hearts are bottomless and mysterious even to us, their owners. You can't convey what it is to love by saying "love's great." You can't teach self-sacrifice just by telling someone that he should die for his brother. You can't talk about courage without talking about those who are courageous. And you certainly can't instill a desire for something as uncomfortable as courage in someone, without first making him love the brave.

While I find it in me to forgive (with difficulty, I admit) those who have told me they "don't read," I do so only because I know they are still breathing stories in with their oxygen. But to say you don't like stories . . . To say you don't like stories is to say you don't like being alive.

So, don't tell me you don't like stories, because I know you are lying to yourself. If you love anything good, beautiful, or true it is because of stories. If you ever dreamed of a life beyond the one you are leading, of climbing higher than you have before, it is because of stories. If you think the world has meaning, it is through stories. If you think you know anything of who you are, it is because of the stories you've woven for yourself over a lifetime.

So, Albrecht, don't tell me you don't like stories, because I know you and really you love them. Especially don't say things like that to me, because I am a storyteller and I am conscious every day that we, all of us storytellers, are doing the most important thing in the world. We are sustaining the race. Human beings cannot live without their stories.


* I was going to go with Joe, but then I realized I was choosing a Blog Alias for someone for the first time and that I'm a fantasy writer. Why in God's name should I give him a boring name when I have a head full of strange ones and a book on my desk full of even stranger ones?

** At great length and in great detail.

*** This can't be an isolated incident because this Tweet exists:


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Project: EPIC REDRAFT, as of Monday, has officially begun.

A man tossing pink confetti onto himself.

My WIP--currently under the working title The Road Beneath the City--is in need of a serious overhaul. I've been planning this draft for the past . . . OH MY GOD, almost the past TWO YEARS. Finally, after a lot of bleeding and sweating and climbing the steep side of the Learning Curve* I have worked out as many plot problems as I can without actually rewriting it. Because re-writing things is scary. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

I have made an extensive outline** using note cards with writing on both sides and even, believe it or not, some color coding!*** I don't think I've ever color coded anything in my entire life before.

My novel broken down by scene and on individual notecard.

Now that I've started writing, I've set myself a NaNoWriMo-esque daily word count quota of 1500 words a day. The goal is to get as far as I can before the end of the summer.

Okay, my most hopeful, wishful goal is really to finish another draft and have something for Susan to critique by the end of the summer. But I don't know if that's going to happen.

Anyway, wish me luck and cooperative muses.


* Which Susan got to witness in all its fantastic glory

** Extensive for me. Susan's outlines make mine look all vague and wibbly and meaningless. But I'm embracing my identity as a free-spirited pantser. So there.

*** Don't get too excited, now. What I mean when I say "color-coded" is that I drew in pink highlighter on the note cards in which my villain actually physically appears. Mostly to make sure that his time was adequately occupied. Bored villains are never a good thing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Cheapest Way to Mail Books

One of the mixed blessings of being a writer/voracious reader is the inevitable collection of books that accumulates quickly in small mountains wherever I happen to live. I always end up with shelves that are simply bursting in such a way that, after removing a book, it may require a crowbar to put it back again. Sometimes I even stack them two rows deep on the shelves. Besides these, there are always several (or more) stacks sitting around on the floor in various levels of organization.

As of two weeks ago, I am a senior in college.* This means that in a year I am somehow going to have to move all the stuff that I've accumulated over three years from the coldest depths of the Midwest all the way to my sunny patch of West Coast.** I decided that I should ship my books back this summer just to make next year easier for myself.

In case you hadn't realized, books are really heavy and airlines' rules about how much weight you can have in your bag before they start asking for your grandmother's jewelry and your first born child are kind of draconian. Shipping huge boxes full of bricks is also always sort of an expensive endeavor.

I was losing all hope and the world was looking black and cold and I was considering *shudder* having to throw them away, when I discovered

which allows you to ship quite large amounts of books for a lot less than the regular rates. I managed to get all my books home for about half the cost of not informing everyone within earshot that these boxes contain ONLY books.

And then there was great rejoicing among the impoverished book folk.



** It's the best coast. You know it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer TBR List

A tall stack of library books with on open book on top.
Last summer I read all thirteen Sookie Stackhouse books. I must admit, it was pretty glorious. I loved how, despite the really weird and often fluffy content, Charlaine Harris was able to keep me hooked and emotionally involved with her characters. I think I stayed up until 2:30 AM to finish All Together Dead and it usually takes truly unusual and fantastical circumstances to convince me to keep my eyes open past 12:30. Sookie's voice was the thing I loved the best. It was bright, and fresh, and unmistakably her.

While I enjoyed myself completely, at the end of the summer I was left with the feeling that I had been eating nothing but candy for three months. Candy is great, but if you eat too much of it it will dye your tongue permanently purple and give you hillbilly teeth.*

So this summer I have made a list to keep myself from getting distracted by every shiny new cover that passes before my eyes. I have no plans to finish reading everything on this list this summer, it is simply so I can have a range of choices. I also put a few books on it that I've already read, but love to reread when I get the chance. The rules are that if I pick a book from one of the lists, I have to pick something from the other two to read next.

Check my Summer Reading list here. I welcome any recommendations you might have for me.

 Bonus: here's your Phantom of the Opera fix for the day.


* No doubt Katie the Roommate would tell me that candy is actually a vegetable because it comes from corn and sugar cane which are both vegetables. Chocolate is also a vegetable and so is steak, in case your were curious.^

^ Chocolate comes from beans which are vegetables and cows eat grass which makes them also vegetables.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Home Again

Finals are finished and I have made it all the way home once more. I am exhausted, but alive. This is pretty much how I spent yesterday which was my first day back:

A picture of a cup of earl grey tea and two maple cookies.
The tea cup was a gift from my little brother.
He knows me so well.
I managed to drink most of the huge pot of tea by myself and felt exactly zero of the promised effects of caffeine. *sigh*

When I wasn't consuming enormous amounts of tea and coping with my jet lag, I was being introduced to the newest members of the Counts Family Hobby Farm. Perhaps you may remember that my first day back on Spring Break last year was marked by our cows escaping their pasture and deciding to taste our tenant's car. Rest assured nothing escaped this year, but we have acquired some interesting new critters: three lambs and two surprisingly cute and tidy pigs.*

Photos of my Rustic Life will likely be forthcoming in the near future. Probably along with video footage of what my mother calls the "Happy Piggy Dance" which may just be the cutest thing ever. Their little pink ears flap when they run. It makes me want to die of sqee.

Susan has also returned home briefly, but is going abroad with a program from our school in a few days. Hopefully, we can look forward to some travel posts and a few glorious pictures of her wonderful life. I wish I was going. *weep*

I had something else I was going to say, but in the haze that is Jet Lag After Flying West, I'm afraid I can't remember what it was.

Happy Friday, everyone.

One more note:

This isn't the thing I was going to say, but you should check out the #FP (Friday Phrases) hashtag on Twitter. You can find the hosts at @FridayPhrases. People use it to tweet flash fiction, snatches of poetry, story ideas, and any pretty phrase that occurs to them. Sometimes they are stunningly beautiful, often they are just entertainingly bizarre. They've actually become one of my favorite parts of Friday.

UPDATE: I've remembered what I was going to say. It was about the Summer Reading List I'm making. But I think I'll save it for it's very own blog post.  


* To add to our fifteen rose bushes,^ eleven chickens, six cats, and a dog. I'm afraid the cows Met Their Fate at the end of last summer.

^ The rose bushes also count as critters. The way they try to flay my face during pruning season every year is completely active.