The Love Genre

Romance Arc, Kate Carlisle, #amwriting

Also known as romance, the love genre has a core value of love vs. hate, and the core event in the love genre is proof of love for one character to another. I go over the romance plot structure in quite a bit more detail here, but in The Story Grid Shawn Coyne does introduce a few subplots within romance.

Courtship: Two people meet and either commit to one another or not. In addition to love vs. hate there tends to be some focus on independence/dependence, communication and misunderstanding, morality/immorality, togetherness/loneliness, and the fan favorite, societal approval/disapproval.

Marriage: Not simply a matter of ending with wedding bells, these stories go deeper into already committed relationships. These stories tend to deal in fidelity vs infidelity, truth and lies, betrayal, and valuing of the self over the family. Friday Night Lights does a great marriage subplot.

Obsession: Obsession stories tend to stray into horror. They go beyond courtship and tend to focus on desire, fear, and survival.

Further subgenera include ….

Erotica, which I’ve heard best described as a matter of lighting (i.e some romances fade to black, spicier romances may describe feelings and such but the “camera” (reader perspective) is mostly pointed at the face, and erotica is fully lit descriptions.

Gothic Romances, which also tend to delve into horror. Riverdale played with this subplot a good bit.

Regency, suspense, western, crime, thriller, horror, you name it.

Romance is a stand alone genre and it can pull any major genre in as a sub genre (like J.D Robb’s In Death series), but it is also the go-to sub plot. It’s difficult, incredibly difficult, to find a story that doesn’t feature a romance in some way, shape, or form.

 

 

Mythology Monday: Iris

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Iris was a virgin goddess of the sea and sky and the daughter of a marine god named Thaumus and a cloud nymph named Elektra. She was the goddess of the rainbow, a messenger for Olympus (as opposed to her twin sister, Arke who was messenger for the Titans), and a handmaid of Hera. She was believed to replenish the rainclouds with water from the sea. She was beautiful, golden winged, and often indistinguishable from Hebe in artwork. In mythology her role is often taken over by Hermes.

She’s also a minor goddess of justice and makes frequent visits to the Underworld carrying water from the Styx to pour in the eyes of everyone who commits perjury, or collecting items for Hera. She played a role after the events of the Trojan War by disguising herself as a wife of Troy and encouraging the other wives and mothers to set fire to Aeneas’ ships in order to prevent them from leaving Sicily.

According to Ovid, Iris also has the ability to transform mortals into gods with a single touch. She also assisted with Leto’s delivery of Artemis and Apollo by bribing Eiletheyia for her help in giving birth to her children, without allowing Hera to find out. She also helped the Argonauts Zetes and Calais face off against the harpies to protect the prophet Phineus. She convinced the two Argonauts not to kill the harpies in exchange for her promise that the Harpies would not hurt Phineus any longer.

But Iris wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She also assisted Hera in cursing Hercules with the madness that caused him to kill his wife and children.

FAQ Friday: Why doesn’t Persephone ever listen to Hades?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

There are multiple points in Daughter of the Earth and Sky where Hades gives Persephone a very specific set of instructions.

That she promptly ignores.

Sometimes she ignored him because she’s charmed (see last Friday’s post). Others because Persephone is impulsive. It’s her character flaw. She’s impulsive, naive, and she thinks she knows best. A chunk of the time she’s right, but not always. It’s not a new character development. This is the girl who ran away from home in book one then ran away from The Underworld to face Boreas. She’s never, regardless of the stakes, sat quietly and listened as other people make decisions. Not once in six books. It’s frustrating. But she also has a way of getting things done.

We all know people like her in real life.

But by the same token, Hades is wrong just as often as she is. There seems to be this impression that if she’d only listened to him x or y would have happened, but that’s not necessarily the case. There is no other way the conversation with Poseidon would have gone, regardless of who was speaking. Poseidon had days to plan exactly what he was going to say and how he was going to say it. Hades didn’t have all the information about Joel or about Zeus or about Aphrodite, so her listening to him in those cases would have led down a different path. But not necessarily a better one.

She is growing as  character, and being less impulsive is one of the places where she’s going to grow. But she and Hades are also growing in terms of having a healthy, functioning relationship where they listen to each other instead of both just doing their own thing because they’re convinced it’s for the best. In other words, it’s not just her flaw.

Thriller Subgenres

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to edit

According to The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, here are a few of the classic thriller sub genres.

Serial killer- a killer is running amok and the hero must find them before they kill the next victim. Think Silence of the Lambs

Legal- A lawyer/judge is the hero/victim. Think John Grisham novels

Medical- A doctor, nurse, or researcher is the hero, Richard Preston does excellent medical thrillers like The Cobra Event.

Military – A soldier plays the hero. Military thrillers are a huge genre.

Political- A politician plays the hero. The Manchurian Candidate is a good example of this.

Journalism- A reporter plays the hero. I Love Trouble has shades of thriller in it

Psychological- This one speaks for itself. Who doesn’t love a good psychological thriller? My friend Dallas wrote an excellent one that I really hope hits the bookshelves soon.

Financial- It’s a thriller set in the financial world. I have no examples because there is, to my mind, nothing thrilling about finances. I read to escape them in fact.

Espionage- A spy is the center of the thriller, much like the crime version of this genre, but with more information given to the reader and less to the protagonist. The Bourne Identity fits into this genre.

Women/child in jeopardy- I guess Man on Fire would fit here, but I consider this more a stake than a sub-genre as the protagonist typically fits into one of the boxes listed above.

 

Mythology Monday: Harmonia

necklace, The Necklace of Harmonia, Greek mythology, love and war

Harmonia (Concordia) was (in most myths) the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite (Love and War) and the goddess of harmony. She’s also considered a goddess of war and marriage. Some versions of the myths list her as a daughter of Zeus and Electra. She was married to Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. All the gods were invited to their wedding, and a bitter Hephaestus (or Europa, or Hera, or Aphrodite), still angry about his wife’s affair, gave her a cursed necklace as a gift. The Necklace of Harmonia brought horrible luck to any who possessed it.

Harmonia’s husband was turned into a snake, and Harmonia was so distraught, that the gods turned her into a snake so the two could be together again. Polynices, son of Oedipus (yes, that one) and Jocasta, inherited the necklace (sometimes it comes with a robe) and gave it to his friend Eriphyle to persuade her husband to rise up against Thebes. This kicked off all the events in the play Seven Against Thebes, which I really do need to cover in another mythology Monday. But hint, hint, everyone dies. The necklace passes from their son to several other less notable mythological figures, causing unspecified trouble along the way, until finally  Amphoterus and Acarnan dedicated the cursed necklace to the temple of Athena. But then a guy named Phallyus stole the necklace to give to his wife, unfortunately, their son went nuts and  burned the house, his family, and their treasures that night, and the necklace has been lost ever since.

FAQ Friday: Joel

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

So this is a spoilerific post. If you haven’t read Daughter of Earth and Sky, continue at your own risk.

I’ve seen several emails from readers praising all things Hades and wondering why she was ever remotely tempted by Joel. The answer to this is actually fairly messed up.

Charm.

Well applied charm works by rationalizing the foreign thoughts and impulses into something the victim wants to do. Several times during Daughter of Earth and Sky Persephone had thought patterns like this.

“I could do my run at three instead,” he suggested. “We could run together.”

“Do you have time for that? With college about to start and everything?” I didn’t want to sound too reluctant, but I really enjoyed the solitude my runs provided.

“For you, I’ll make time.” He gave me an easy grin. “Just not right now. I should head out. Do you need help getting to your car? Or can you drive? I could take you home . . . ”

I laughed at his hesitation. I lived a bit outside of town, and gas wasn’t cheap. “I’m fine. I’m meeting someone later, so I should stick around.”

“Great.” He sounded relieved. He met my eyes. “Are we on for tomorrow?”

“Sure!” I needed to practice being human before school started, and Joel was about as normal as a human could get.

And just like that she’s running with Joel daily. Here’s another example.

 

“Sorry, Joel.” I brushed the grass off my legs. “I should probably be going.”

He caught my eye. “Aw come on, how long does it take to drink a smoothie?”

I found myself smiling. “Fine.”

And here’s another example.

I felt a pang of guilt flash through me when I saw Joel waiting for me at the bridge. Melissa was right. I was leading him on. I wasn’t sure how it had happened. We’d progressed from our daily jog, to a daily jog and smoothie. Then to a daily jog, smoothie, and occasional dinner. Now it was a daily jog, smoothie, occasional dinner, and occasional movie. We weren’t going out, and I had no interest in dating anyone other than Hades, but every time Joel suggested something and looked at me with those big blue eyes, I found myself agreeing. It was just so easy to be normal around him. For those short bits of time, I could forget about Hades and Thanatos and the Underworld.

“I gotta say, I liked your other outfit better.” Joel motioned to my Disney princess running shirt and pink shorts.

I laughed nervously. I hadn’t switched into different running clothes because Hades had made that comment, but because the way Joel looked at me sometimes made me want to wear a shapeless sweat suit. But this was Georgia. Sweating to death was a distinct possibility.

Joel grinned at me, and I forgot all about that. He was too nice to lead on. I needed to end this.

“You ready?” Joel asked, eyes searching mine.

“Yup!” We could talk after the run.

I ran faster than I ever had, beating Joel and my goal. I collapsed on the grass when I finished my third mile, grinning like an idiot.

“You’re in a good mood,” he noted.

I pushed myself up on my hands. “Hanging out with Aphrodite, running with you, it’s weird, but . . . ” I struggled to explain it. “I feel like I get to be me again, for just a few minutes. It’s really nice.”

“Who else have you been?” He sat beside me, eyes lingering appreciatively on my legs. He caught my reproachful look and gave me an impish smile. “You can tell me anything you know. I won’t tell anyone.”

And suddenly I wanted to tell him. Not everything, but Joel was so easy to talk to, I bet he’d understand what I was going through better than most of the gods.

And one more…

He met my eyes, leaned closer, and I knew he was going to kiss me. I thought of stopping him. I shouldn’t have led him on this long. But . . .

I let him kiss me, releasing him from the charm that would compel him to forget this conversation. His lips on mine were warm and eager. Completely different from a kiss from Hades. Hades was always fighting a battle with himself, trying to hold back. Joel had no such reservations.

My stomach turned at the thought of Hades, and I pushed Joel away. This was wrong. I didn’t want to do this. Why was I doing this? I knew it was just kissing, but I didn’t want to kiss anyone else. I just wanted Hades.

“What’s wrong?” Joel’s bright blue eyes searched my face.

I stared at him wondering that myself. What was wrong? Joel was a perfectly nice guy, and I liked him before. 

See. Aside from a passing mention in the first book, Persephone didn’t willingly give Joel the time of day a single time during the entire book. He spent the entire book slowly forcing her trust, forcing a relationship, and working with Thanatos and Aphrodite to isolate her from everyone else she could turn to. It’s pretty messed up.

 

The thriller genre

8bc792d8-2e75-41bb-8a92-fc3f2c745a67The thriller genre is a mashup of horror, action, and crime. Writing Excuses described the difference between a mystery and a thriller as whether or not the reader knows who the bad guy is and what they’re up to. In a mystery the driving force to turn the page is curiosity. In a thriller, it’s dread. You know what’s coming, the protagonist doesn’t. Like horror, thrillers often go beyond life and death to fates worse than. But a thriller also tends to be a bit more grounded than horror. The villains a bit less like Voldemort and more like Umbridge. He’s out of this world horrifying, she’s the evil you know. Thrillers tend to be more character driven than an action novel because when the stakes are personal (i.e not a bus full of screaming children) and worse than death, you have to care whether the protagonist lives or dies.

The protagonist of a thriller tends to be the heroic type who would throw themselves down in front of that bus of screaming children to slow it down as opposed to the everyman protagonist of most horror novels. The protagonist also tends to be deeply sympathetic, often because they are a victim of some kind.

There’s as many different flavors of thriller as crime, action, or horror. It’s the tone, the stakes, the characterization, and the reader’s knowledge that differ. You can plug in all the windows dressing of a espionage adventure and make it into a thriller. But next week, I’ll discuss a few of the old standbys.

 

Mythology Monday: Athena

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“He could know something useful that could save time, possibly even save lives,” Athena argued. “Despite your low opinion of me, I take no joy in my creation’s sufferings. But it must be done. The demigods made their stance clear when they relocated the island. That wasn’t an exchange you witnessed, it was a coup. We have a window of instability when we can strike, but it is rapidly closing. The time for deliberation is at an end.”

Spending this much time with the Pantheon was skewing my perspective. I couldn’t afford to start thinking like them. “Hades would wait. My mother—” my voice caught, but I cleared my throat with a harsh cough and soldiered on “—would have waited.” Not forever. I wasn’t that naïve, but they’d give it some time. Just in case.

“Yes, they would wait.” Athena crossed her legs and plucked an imaginary piece of lint off her tan slacks. “Because they’re cowards. I had better hopes for you, but I see I was mistaken.”

“You want to talk cowardice?” I snorted. “What do you call forcing a teenage girl to fight your battles for you? Sorry, no. You lost the right to complain about me being inexperienced or naïve or whatever the hell else you think you’re insulting me with the second you voted to use me instead of stepping up. You will damn well take me as I am.”

Athena opened her mouth to argue, but I railroaded right over her.

“Oh, and you don’t get to claim sympathy for ‘your creations,’ either.” I put her phrase in air quotes. “Not when you enabled the monster tormenting them for centuries because it benefitted you. That is why we’re in this mess right now. You know that, don’t you? Because you didn’t care about what Zeus was doing until it threatened you. You joined in. I know all the stories, all the facts. The things you did to people just because you could. It is no wonder they want us all dead. My mother wasn’t perfect, but at least she didn’t participate. Hades either.”

“We didn’t all have the luxury of disappearing into our own realms! Some of us had to live with him.” Athena snapped to her feet, almost tripping over the floral rug in front of the couch. Her voice cracked with more emotion than I’d ever heard from her, but no power accompanied the outburst. The air didn’t charge or shift or smell of a stuffy old library or whatever her power signature would taste like.

For a moment, I admired her self-control, then I realized that self-control had nothing to do with it. Athena didn’t have to struggle to hold her powers back, because she barely had enough to get by. I kept letting myself forget how much stronger I was.

“We had to live with him,” Athena continued, her voice thick. “Day in and day out, whispering in our ears, telling us how the world owed us. Telling us how much the humans hated us, despised us, didn’t respect us enough. Driving us to action. People worshipped us, sacrificed to us, prayed to us, deferred to us. And we drank it in like wine. Zeus was a psychopath, but everyone who disagreed with him sat upon their high horses, judging us for living in the only world we’d ever known.

“You think you’d be any different? You think there’s nothing you’d look back upon and regret? Wait a few generations, infant. Wait until time and values have shifted. Wait until some child looks at you with judgment in their eyes and asks how you could have done that, thought that, allowed that.”

I lifted my chin, glaring at her. She knew nothing about me. Nothing about what I regretted. What I would or wouldn’t do.

Athena gave a bitter laugh at my expression. “Time marches on, even for us immortals. The world is ever-changing. One day, you’ll grow old enough to look back and wonder how you could ever have been such a monster for something you wouldn’t think twice about now. And you’ll have two choices. Cling to your outdated beliefs or change. But what you cannot do is go back and reverse the damage you’ve done. No matter how much you wish to.” Her gray eyes met mine. “Move on. I know you hate me and everything I stand for. I don’t blame you. But we are all in this mess together, and we are never going to get out of it unless you listen to someone other than yourself.”

~@~

Athena is possibly the best example in mythology of when religions absorbing each other does not work. She, and her Roman counterpart Minerva, are two entirely different goddesses with different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.

Athena is best known as The Goddess of Wisdom, but that’s only because as her ancient myths were was absorbed and modernized into more patriarchal societies, they downplayed some of her biggest strengths.

Athena was the Virgin goddess of War. That’s why she carried a shield and spear. She was also the goddess of  defense; heroic endeavors’ protector of agriculture, science, and industry; good council; weaving, pottery, and other crafts; and women’s work. Three guesses why you only hear about the latter half of her equation.

Athena was born fighting. Zeus was terrified to have children after what he did to his parents, so when he learned from Athena’s mother, Metis (her mother is Metis in my mythology as well, but since this was early in Hera and Zeus’s relationship, Hera pretended that she was hers to preserve her reputation as the goddess of marriage. She got over that eventually), that she was on the way, he ate Athena before she could be born. But Athena was too strong willed so she burst out of Zeus’s cranium in the world’s worst migraine, and demanded her place among the Olympians.

An alternate version of the myth makes her the daughter of the Winged Giant Pallas, whom she immediately killed for attempting to rape her. She striped him of his skin and attached his wings to her feet for speed.

Less frequently, she’s a daughter of Poseidon or Triton or Tritonis who got tired of being their daughter and asked to be adopted by Zeus.

She played a pivotal role in the creation of man and in most heroes journeys, including The Odyssey , Jason and The Argonauts, and The Twelve Labors of Hercules, and the creation of Medusa. She and Poseidon fought bitterly over the naming of the city of Athens. She won naming rights by creating an olive tree and a horse. She fought admirably in the war of the giants, and fought off an attempted rape from Hephaestus. She blindest the prophet Teiresias for daring to look upon her while bathing, and she played huge part in The Trojan War by siding with the Greeks in battle, then attacking their ships with a storm when they failed to punish Ajax for violating her Trojan shrine (though in most retellings, her role is reduced to the Divine Beauty Contest).

She did all of that and so much more. She’s a super prominent figure in Greek Mythology, but I bet I can guess which myth you’ve heard her featured in most.

The weaving contest. The story goes that Arachne was a talented young weaver who dared to brag that her skills rivaled even Athena’s. Athena challenged her to a weaving contest, sometimes in disguise (Athena really enjoyed disguises), sometimes not. Depending on the story she won or lost but the outcome is the same. She was so offended at Arachne’s claim, that she cursed her by turning her into a spider so she and her descended could weave their webs for all eternity.

Because of this combination of myths and personalities, Athena comes across as a bit bi-polar. One moment, she’s the goddess of wisdom, perfectly rational and calm. The next she’s flying off the handle, cursing people into God-Killing-Monsters and arranging epic quests to clean up her mess.

Fortunately, this works for my universe where every god is their own foil. Persephone, goddess of spring, fears change. Ares, god of war, is a pacifist, Aphrodite, goddess of love, doesn’t understand relationships, and Athena, goddess of wisdom, is rash and impulsive.

In my universe, Athena is an adult goddess (not a teen like Persephone and Aphrodite), who works at The University of Georgia as a professor in psychology. She’s asexual and Machiavellian to the extreme. She and Persephone got off on the wrong foot and are constantly at odds with one another, but she and Aphrodite understand one another on a very deep level. She’s integral to the Pantheon, and as the series progresses, she and Persephone are forced to work together more and more.

FAQ Friday: Where can I buy Daughter of Earth and Sky?

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Q: Where can I buy Daughter of Earth and Sky in format/language/country/for free.

I get variations on this question a lot and for obvious reasons, I am all too happy to answer.

First, some links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible and many, many more.

Daughter of Earth and Sky is available in print, all the major electronic formats, and as an audiobook narrated by yours truly. Print wise, you can order it wherever books are sold, but unless you happen to live in Athens, Georgia, the odds of you walking in and seeing it on a shelf are slim, so you will have to special order it.

Internationally, Daughter of Earth and Sky is available through Amazon and to my knowledge Amazon alone. It is at this point in time only available in English.

Audiobook wise, Daughter of Earth and Sky is available on audible,itunes, and good ol’ amazon.

Daughter of Earth and Sky occasionally goes on sale for .99 cents, but my publisher has not yet offered it for free. As far as I know, they have no plans to.  If you really, really, really want to read my book, but can’t afford it even on sale (trust me, I feel your pain. I have lived in the red) the best suggestion I can offer is your local library. If they don’t have a copy and you request it, chances are they will buy more than one of copy, so not only do you get it free, but it also helps me in terms of sales and exposure. We both win. My books are all available on overdrive, so if your library offers eBooks, there’s a good chance they already have it in an electronic format or can easily obtain it via request. You can even request the audio version. If you’re asking for my recommendation for a good pirate site, let me tell you three quick things.

  1.  While I am truly flattered that you want to read my book enough to commit theft, I’m not J.K Rowling (not that she deserves to be robbed either). I need every penny of my royalties to scrape by.
  2. I have it on good authority from the many, many, many readers who have emailed me complaining their stolen copy of my book infected their computer, that a good chunk of those pirate sites claiming to have my book are bad news.
  3.  When real copies of my book go up, they are pretty quickly taken down, and they stay down for one very important reason. My publisher takes piracy very, very seriously. When they see their products being stolen, they act on it beyond just sending take down notices.

I have an E.d.S in School Library Media, so accessibility is very important to me. If you cannot obtain a copy of my book for any reason at all, email me using the contact me form on this website. I’ll see what I can do.

 

 

The Western Genre

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to editAccording to the Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, the core value in a westerns concern the following: the individual within and out of society, strong vs. weak, and civilization vs. wilderness. The core piece of a western is the showdown between the hero and the villain. There are a few different kinds of westerns.

The Classic Western- A stranger comes to town that no one quite trusts, but it turns out they’ve got some sort of unique ability or skill set that makes them the perfect person to save the town from a big bad. In the end, the town sees the value in the stranger and welcomes them to stay, but alas, the stranger must move on. Besides all the classic westerns that fall into this genre, this arc pops up as a sub genre all over the place. Vampire Hunter D used it, so did Full Metal Alchemist.

Vengeance- is mine, sayeth the Lord. Sorry, knee-jerk quote finishing. Anyway, this time the stranger isn’t just passing through, s/he is there to right a specific wrong. This is more the overall arc of Firefly.

Transition- The hero starts in a society and ends outside society. You see a lot of echoes of this sub-genre in dystopian fiction.

Professional- This is really more of a cross-genre to the professional sub-genre in crime. The hero isn’t trying to save society, they’re just making their living outside the law.

Westerns have very successfully resurged through genre blending with science fiction. Firefly is possibly the most overt Western-Sci-Fi blend, but if you think about it, pretty much any story set on the outskirts of society in space, exploring and pushing further out of the comfortable bounds and dealing with the clash between the existing society and the encroaching society fits into the western story arcs. Ditto for post-apocolyptic or dystopian stories where the protagonists leave society or attempt to piece together one in a wild, lawless land. It’s really interesting seeing how the elements of what looked like a dead and dying genre came back to life.