Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Spring! Also, writing update. Also, anybody try CRUEL BEAUTY yet?

Spring is springing! The apricots are in bloom; so are the Japanese plums and the one plucot. The peaches are considering opening their buds. The apples and European plums, wiser than the others, are still zipped up tight. Still, though they’re predicting temps of about 35 F for several nights coming up, I think there’s a decent chance the blooming trees won’t get zapped. Apricot blooms are surprisingly hardy.

The star magnolia is just starting to bloom, and its flowers might not survive the week, but you can’t have everything every year, I guess. And maybe it won’t get that cold.

And for something different: check this out:

apples (Small)

These are the final apples left from last fall. They lasted in an open ziplock bag in an unheated garage until now. Some in the bag did get bad spots, yes. But still. These apples are fine, and they taste great. They are Pink Ladies, an awesome storage apple that is too hard and sour when first picked, is good a month after being picked, and as you see, retains decent eating quality till spring. Once these are gone, I may not eat another apple until fall, because between apples off the tree and apples from the store, seriously, there is just no comparison.

* * *

People! What was my earlier writer-self doing, putting in 100 pages or so that did plenty of character development but did not advance the plot one single bit? Good Lord above. The things you just don’t see in your first novel.

No, I am not taking out all this material — though I still need to lose about 200 pages eventually. Well, 120 pp at the very least. But later, later, I think nearly all the remaining cutting will come toward the end and right now I’m deep in the middle. Anyway: no, the story needs this character development. It took about five minutes to think about how to fiddle with these scenes so they ALSO wind up advancing the plot. Tonight: mess with the order of the chapters and write a small amount of new material. Poof, problem solved (I’m pretty sure).

You know, not to brag, but some of this is pretty good. Especially some of the description. Very atmospheric.

* * *

Here is a book I haven’t bought yet:

CruelBeauty

Because I’m scared of it. I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, and everyone loves it, and yet . . . Here’s Brandy at Random Musings of a Bibliophile. Here’s April at Good Books and Good Wine. Here’s Angie at Angieville. Chachic loved it.

Here is why I hesitate: “Nyx is a girl with a heart full of venom and rage. No one in her world is spared from the bitterness she carries around. . . . Nyx is manipulative and not above hurting others to get what she needs, or simply for the satisfaction of seeing them hurt. There is nothing about her that is “likable’.”

See? Scary!

Yet the book impressed all the right people, the descriptive passages are supposed to be super-beautiful, and lots of the comments make the story sound like one I would love after all: “Woven through all of this are themes of pride, forgiveness, sacrifice, and the war in every one of us between light and dark.”

Also this: “Because something remarkable and elusive was happening to them both, even as they threatened each other with all manner of bodily harm and eternal torment. And the fact that Ms. Hodge managed to quietly craft this fragile something inside a fortress of fury, without compromising her characters, well, it impressed me. I love them so very much for all their vengeful hearts and angry, clenching hands. But perhaps most of all for the ultimate mercy they show (not to themselves, but to one another) in spite of the suffering they’ve undergone.”

Nevertheless, it’s not like I desperately need to read a beautiful, compelling book right now, because hello, busy, so this one has just been sitting on my wishlist so I don’t forget about it, but I have never been committed to actually for sure buying it.

But, you know what is out now?

This:

GildedAshes

A Cinderella novella by the same author, available for $1.99 via Kindle. Good marketing by the author! This, I picked up this morning, because a novella isn’t much of a commitment. I will read this first (not today! but soon, because, novella) and then I bet I will have a much easier time deciding whether to move CRUEL BEAUTY up to my must-buy-soon list or drop it entirely off my wishlist.

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10 Comments Spring! Also, writing update. Also, anybody try CRUEL BEAUTY yet?

  1. Maureen+E

    I know I’m in the minority, but I had a really hard time with Cruel Beauty. I didn’t care enough about the characters, and the writing and world never resonated with me even though on the face of it, it should be the most Maureen-y book ever. Lots of other people loved it, which is great! So ymmv, obviously.

  2. Rachel

    I’m glad to have a counter-opinion, Maureen. I think this is one to approach cautiously, for me. Yet . . . Beauty and the Beast, that’s hard to turn down. I’ll definitely try the novella first and see if the writing appeals to me.

  3. Elaine T

    I’ve sampled the Cinderella… I’ve got to say it didn’t engage me, and the world building didn’t convince me. I read too much Greek back in college to believe in Apollo co-existing in the same myth/theology as demons (now if she’d spelled it daemon, I’d not have been pushed out). But the situation did sound like an interesting twist on the basic story.

    verdict on the sample: meh.

  4. Pete+Mack

    Or if you want, you can borrow “The Steerswoman” from my kindle library. I still can’t believe you’ve never read this classic world-building book from the 80s.

  5. Rachel

    Thanks for the offer! But if I borrowed it, I’d feel compelled to read it, and I don’t have time! Still, FINE, I will make sure and move it up to the semiofficial read-this-year list.

  6. Pete+Mack

    Well, it’s sort of Robin McKinley’s id writing the story. Or alter-ego. Something like that…

  7. Emma

    I have read it, and sure it was a good book, not as great as I thought it would be based on the reviews. I felt that the characters lacked depth and I prefer to have my heroines strong and independent. Nyx did spend a lot of time crying and going over her treatment of her sister. But the sister did a major personality turn, which is also one of the reason to why the book only is good and not great. And for some reason I compared Cruel Beauty to Cygnet by Patricia A. McKillip, which is one of my favourite books.

    If you are looking for a compelling book I had a hard time putting down Shatter me by Tahereh Mafi.

  8. Rachel

    Thanks, Emma! (Almost) everything by McKillip is a favorite of mine, definitely CYGNET. Both books, in fact. In fact . . . I love the dragon in THE CYGNET AND THE FIREBIRD so much that I might prefer that one to THE SORCERESS AND THE CYGNET. I had better make an effort not to compare CRUEL BEAUTY to McKillip because I would sure be setting myself up for disappointment.

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