Hey look! It’s yet another unplanned post from Allison!
This seems to be my modus operandi these days. Blogging has definitely become rather “ad hoc” this year as I kind of lurch from one fit of inspiration or interest to another in a “schedule” that has become the definition of random.
Technically, I should have been working on other blog posts at this moment buuuuut – this looked so fun that I had to participate. And really – WHO CARES? THE BLOGGING POLICE CAN’T PIN ANYTHING ON ME, SO I’M JUST GOING TO ENJOY MYSELF.
I took my cues from the amazing Christine Smith (always a safe bet, since she’s sensational). She did the Instagram Prompts below in a blog post format.
After you read my (hopefully) fascinating blog post, make sure you follow Christine, not to mention the CREATOR of this very cool tag Jameson C Smith. And don’t forget to check out her Instagram account too!
And now . . . *imitates drum roll and cymbal clash with nominal success* ON TO THE POST.
1.) Introduce yourself!
I feel like we’re going over tilled ground, here. However, it’s possible that you’re new here.
In which case, WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL YOUR LIFE?
WAITING FOR YOU TO JOIN THE ALLISON PARTY, THAT’S WHAT.
*cough* I’m joking, of course.
Anyway, I could ramble awkwardly about who I am, but I would suggest just browsing around on this blog post or on my social media links.
Right now I’m too lazy to do anything other than paste my official author bio.
Allison Tebo is a Christian writer committed to creating magical stories full of larger-than-life characters, a dash of grit, and plenty of laughs. She is the author of the Tales of Ambia, a series of romantic comedy retellings of popular fairy tales and her flash fiction and short stories have been published in Splickety, Spark, Inklings Press, and Rogue Blades Entertainment. Allison graduated with merit from London Art College after studying cartooning and children’s illustration and, when not creating new worlds with words or paint, she enjoys reading, baking, and defending her championship title of Gif Master. You can find out more about her work at www.allisonteboauthor.com or follow her on Facebook at Allison Tebo Author.
2.) Tell us about your work-in-progress and your August goals!
My August goals were basically just to start writing again . . . on anything. I burned out in July and the Big Bad WorldBlock Monster started beating my brains out.
So August was mostly devoted to unwilling rest and poking away at the block. Very slowly….
The WIP that I’m going to be talking about on this post is one of my main goals for September (possibly for the rest of 2020).
Which is (you probably guessed it) my infamous Little Red Riding Hood retelling.
I am also now using this opportunity to announce the story’s working title: A DEADLY DECEPTION.
I’m not entirely happy with it, but it will do for now!
3.) Introduce your characters!
Warning: The following descriptions or mood boards contain mild spoilers for past books and future ones. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Burndee: An ISTP and an insensitive and cranky baker who is learning to be less insensitive and cranky and who is head-over-heels in love with his wife and enjoying his happily ever after.
A happily ever after that will be kind of ruined in this book.
Ella: Gentle and not-very-bright Ella is a sweet-natured ISFJ who is still rejoicing over the home that has been returned to her. The bride of Burndee, Ella is struggling to balance renovating a home, running a bakery, learning magic, and dealing with the overwhelming excitement of becoming an aunt.
Colin: A happy-go-lucky and mischievous ESFP who is the prince of Ambia and an expectant father. He is learning to grow into his responsibilities as the future king, as well as changing in his relationships with those closest to him.
Cynthia: Expecting her first child and soon to be crowned queen, Cynthia is a no-nonsense, down-to-earth ESTJ. Cynthia was a former medical student who failed to graduate when she abandoned her career as a doctor to marry and support Colin, as well as co-rule a kingdom.
Poppy: Still recovering from a traumatic kidnapping, Poppy is a shy and sensitive INFP who is blossoming into a more adventurous and open person due to the new friendships she has developed. She is the former princess of Ambia’s southern neighbor, Radorria, and is now lady-in-waiting to Princess Cynthia.
Horace: Secretly a closet ENFP and the former fiance of Poppy. Unintentionally drawn into the inner circle of Ambia, Horace reveals surprising value and displays surprising talents to the group . . . and may even dare to call some of them friends.
Well, what do you think? And that’s just my main cast – there is a sizable allotment of side characters that I didn’t show here. But, hey, I have to keep some things a secret….
4.) What are you currently reading?
I am usually reading about ten books at once (I know, it’s a problem), but the first three on my list are Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson, The Last Atlantean by Emily Hayse and Animal Farm by George Orwell. All of them are proving to be quite interesting!
5.) Favorite genre to read and write.
I’m really not particular about what genre I read. If it’s good, I’ll read it. But, looking at my book case, the overwhelming indication is that I definitely prefer middle grade, no matter what the genre is.
As for what I love to write, my favorite genre is definitely speculative. Whether it is steampunk, science fiction, or a magical realism – I crave a little speculation in my storytelling.
6.) Three fun facts about your work-in-progress.
1) It’s a novel, not a novella. That’s fun for my readers. Not so fun for me.
2) This is the culmination of Burndee’s BIG ARC. He thinks I’m killing him right now, but momma knows best. It’s going to be beautiful! Painful, but beautiful. Everything in the previous two books has brought Burndee to this moment of truth and he just has to deal with it.
3) I’ve mixed and matched my spouses. Burndee and Cynthia are paired up in this novel and Colin and Ella hang out elsewhere. It was definitely fun to explore the sibling-like relationships between these respective in-laws.
7.) You get to spend the day in your story’s world. What do you do?
I’m definitely visiting The Magic Pumpkin Bakery so that I can eat myself silly by feasting on the delectable treats. I would try writing there, but there’s no way I’m going to get any work done with Burndee yelling in the back.
After gorging myself, I would probably go hang out with Ella at Rose Hall and help her pick colors for her recent home renovations, then I’d swing by the palace to have tea with Poppy, Cynthia, and Meck (if he’ll come out of hiding long enough for me to give him a pat and a crumpet).
And (I might as well just admit it), I’d spend most of my day with Colin, raising a ruckus.
There’s also one thing I would do with Horace, but . . . I’m not going to say because of spoilers. *smirks*
8.) A favorite kind of character to write.
Grumpy and sarcastic are always fun. I also adore writing characters that seem boring / dumb / annoying but are actually quite interesting and likeable if you are willing to look beyond the surface.
You’re going to see both of those in A Deadly Deception . . . just saying.
9.) What is your writing weakness?
Oh boy, how to narrow this down? 😛
I’m going to go with plotting and development. I can come up with premises all day long. Plots, not so much.
I also have a bad habit of trying to skip the brainstorming stage of a story.
I am so enamored with the nitty gritty of work that I have a natural tendency to skip dreaming and go right to drafting so that I can start producing STATS. . . which doesn’t really work.
I’m more of a worker, not a daydreamer, so it can be hard for me to sit down and really think out a draft.
10.) What is your writing strength?
I’m good at characterization and dialogue. Anything emotionally-charged is pretty easy. I can also write humor.
11.) What are your hobbies outside of writing?
I love singing and have a somewhat neglected YouTube channel. I’m hoping to post again there soon, though!
I love to bake. Sadly, I am not as good at it as Burndee is. The majority of my stuff does turn out to be quite tasty, but it doesn’t always look as Instagram-worthy as I would have liked it to.
I also love reading, playing the piano, traveling, drawing, painting, making people laugh, and GIFS.
I also have this wonderful pastime of hating popular things and loving un-popular things.
12.) Your favorite villain trope.
Hmm… a trope, you say? I’m not a big fan of tropes for villains – most of them are pretty tired and I would rather have a villain that is unique and interesting than one who is trope-y.
However, two tropes I do love, now that I think of it, is the comical villain (think Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove) and flamboyant drama kings.
I also really love it when villains die – if that counts. *bloodthirsty snicker*
13.) A favorite book you’ve read so far in 2020.
I’m going to “cheat” here and say Issue one of T Spec Fiction. What can I say? I’m my sister’s biggest fan and I genuinely loved their work in our magazine!
14.) Writing playlistI’m one of those (apparently?) rare writers that don’t spend a lot of time assembling the perfect soundtrack for their story.
I only turn on music when I’m really, REALLY stuck. If that happens, I’ll usually just turn on something random. Whatever soundtrack first pops into my head that more or less matches the mood of what I’m struggling to work on is usually good enough for me. I’m not picky.
15.) Your WIP’s theme colors/aesthetic
Colors: greys / greens / smoky blues / vivid scarlet
Things: ancient ruined castles / dark dungeons / rose gardens / empty kitchens / low-burning fires / cabins in the woods / magic potions / wooden cradles / glittering crowns / brooding forests / secret lakes / steampunk cars / baked goods / starry nights / uncomfortable tea time conversations / stinky-sweet domovai fur / prison keys / fencing swords / dueling pistols / royal guards.
I could go on, but that’s a spoiler gold-mine already…
*claps hand over mouth* Just control yourself, Allison. Just hold it in…
16.) Share your social media + book links!
You want links?
17.) A side character you love in your work-in-progress.
I am absolutely, one-hundred percent, head-over-heels enamored with Duke Horace Windslow. Remember him? The doughy would-be-groom from A Royal Masquerade? Do you remember what I was saying earlier about being willing to look beyond someone’s exterior because it might surprise you?
*muffled squealing from off stage*
18.) What is the best part about being a writer?
Well, I’m never bored. 🙂
Okay, seriously. I think the best part about being a writer (aside from the fact that it’s pretty much a license to have imaginary friends and do weird things in the name of research) is the way writing allows us to share God’s truths with the world.
Jesus Christ used stories to communicate with us during His ministry, because stories are really the only way a human begin can understand anything beyond their immediate reality. Being a writer is like having a light saber pressed into my hand. It’s brilliant, it’s powerful, and I have the choice to wield it for good or for evil. Stories can cut through hearts and lies and darkness. It’s a sobering responsibility, but it’s also amazing.
19.) A genre you want to write.
I would really love to write contemporary fiction – specifically small town fiction or middle grade books. I am positively PINING to write contemporary fiction but . . . I’m intimidated by it.
All my work already has a tendency to turn into rambly day-in-the-life stuff, so I’m afraid that if the pressure and direction of the world building demands were removed from me, my fiction would be REALLY rambly and slow. *grins*
20.) You’re an author on a Q&A panel! Which authors are sharing the stage with you? You didn’t clarify whether the authors with me have to be living or dead. Can they be ghosts? Can I be a ghost? Can I arrange to have all of the authors I want with me to time travel to some alternate reality where we can all exist simultaneously and record a broadcast? WHAT ARE MY PERIMETERS HERE?
Okay, I’m going to do two versions. Both of them are equally fanciful.Scenario 1). I am a world famous author and no one would turn down the opportunity to be on a panel with me.
Emily Golus: Emily is so much fun and so sweet, I would hang out with her in ANY capacity, but I think she would give the most awesome talks on world building. Just check out her fiction – she rivals Tolkien for detail!
Mollie Reeder: Who wouldn’t want Mollie on their panel? She’s smart and talented and I would love to sit next to that much greatness. I also think a class in characterization and dialogue from her would be fantastic.
Donita K. Paul: She’s a writer that reminds me so much of C.S. Lewis. I would be honored to be on a panel with Donita and to have her teaching on the subject of how to infuse fiction with spiritual truths.
Jonathan Rogers: He’s one of the few living authors I know of who remind me of Sid Fleischman; his writing is so imaginative and quirky. Some classes from Jonathan on how to write humor and how to inject free-wheeling fancies into your fiction would be fun. Scenario 2) I have contacted Doctor Who and he has used the Tardis to retrieve the authors of my choice from the ancient past and we are broadcasting from an alternate reality where time doesn’t exist.
C.S. LEWIS: DO I EVEN HAVE TO EXPLAIN? It’s C.S. Lewis. I would probably be speechless with awe and shyness in his presence, but I don’t care. I just want to listen to him and soak up his wisdom and I would love to hear a discussion from him on how to weave allegories into fiction.
FRANK BAUM: He had the most amazing imagination and seemed like such a genuinely interesting person. I think he would give great tips on how to have fun as an author. He also seemed to really care about his readers, and I love that.
P.G. WODEHOUSE: It would kind of like being on a panel with my imaginary (British) uncle. I always think of Wodehouse as sweet, amusing, and slyly irreverent. He’d be the man I would trust to break the ice!
Helen MacInnes: This competent and savvy writer would be a honor to be around. She was a flag-waving, whistle-blowing, America and free-nations first kind of writer – and destruction to all terrorists, Communists, and Socialists. Definitely my kind of woman. I think a class from Helen on how to weave conservative morals and good propaganda into fiction would be wonderful.
Constance Savery: She’s one of my favorite authors of all time – she HAS to be on my panel. Aside from the fact that I would love to meet her, a class on how to write good and moral characters who are still engaging and a class on how to make holiness relatable would be invaluable.
WOW, that was hard. There are so many authors (both living and dead) that I really love and I would go through a lot to be in the same room with them, let alone on the same panel.
21.) One way you’ve grown as a writer + one thing you want to improve on.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I actually had to walk away from this and think hard about how I’ve grown as a writer because I literally could not think of anything at first.
So, it turns out that the thing I’ve learned and the area I still want to grow in are the same thing.
One of the most valuable things I’m beginning to learn is to let things go and to not get so wrapped up in my schedule and deadlines.
I would like to learn how to achieve a better balance and to stop pushing myself so hard. Very few things are worth the sacrifice my health, and in the past I’ve allowed a lot of my publishing goals to interfere with my physical and mental well-being.
I have gotten better about this, but I would like to improve even more in pacing myself, and to be more okay with the fact that good things taking time. After all . . .
22.) Goal check-in + a snippet!
I would say that I am least a third of the way through with the first draft. Possibly even half-way through. Anyway, that’s what I keep telling myself!
AND NOW – SNIPPET-Y TIME!
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW I WRITHED WHILE SELECTED MY SNIPPET. A Deadly Deception is basically a tome of spoilers. That’s literally all it is – one big fat book of spoilers. But I WANT to share spoilers with you . . .
But you know what? I’m just going to do it. I am going to live life dangerously and share a spoiler-y scene. I am going to make us both ludicrously happy and show Burndee’s FIRST MEETING with the Red of Little Red Riding Hood. Enjoy!
Burndee had just turned his head long enough to see a blur of movement. Ella gasped as the thing whipped past her and threw itself on Burndee, seizing him by the leg.
Burndee let out a startled whoop and reached down to pull himself free as the thing raised its head to reveal the grubby face of a small boy.
Burndee, relieved that it was not some kind of wild animal, and still stunned to find himself in sudden violent contact, could only gape down at the tyke.
“What are you doing?” Burndee shouted at last. “Hey, get off!” He shook his leg vigorously but the boy clung to him like grease on an apron. “Unhand me, I say!” Burndee bellowed.
He leapt back, thoroughly unsettled. The boy threw himself determinedly at Burndee and with another garbled protest, Burndee found himself turning and running. The boy must have made a flying leap, for Burndee was aware of an increasing weight on his belt and leg and realized he was not making much progress across the courtyard.
The boy was mad, a simpleton—perhaps even rabid! He didn’t care at all that Burndee was dragging him off the road and across the lawn.
Burndee was finally forced to stop when he ran out of breath and he twisted around to seize the child by the shoulders, jerking the boy away and shaking him until his corn-colored hair flew in all directions.
“What is wrong with you?” Burndee shouted, oddly terrified. “Go away!”
“Burndee!” Ella had caught up with them in a flurry of skirts and squeals. “What are you doing to that little boy?”
Burndee could not remember when Ella had ever looked at him like that, as if he were a murderer that kicked small dogs on Saturdays. It chilled him—and the fact that it was the ridiculous little leech clinging to his leg who was the one responsible for that reaction did not increase his patience one bit.
“I didn’t do anything to the little pest!” Burndee growled. “He was the one that attacked me.”
“Attacked you?” Ella actually clicked her tongue. Burndee glared at her and opened his mouth to lambaste her for not believing him. Everyone, even Ella, always assumed he lost his temper for no good reason or that he was the one that started every debacle. But before he could set the record straight, the boy interrupted.
“It was a dare,” he explained earnestly, flicking his hair out of his eyes by jerking his head like a wooden doll. “We had heard people talking about Mister Burndee—and how strange he is and that he shocks people when he touches them.” The grin he gave Burndee was full of nothing but admiration for this strange feat, and the dimples showed no sign of retreating under Burndee’s black stare. “Everybody talks about it,” he continued. “They said it stings like the dickens. Miles O’Henry dared me to hang on for as long as I could while he timed how long I could stand it with his pocket watch.” He turned around and gestured towards the other end of the courtyard. A skinny boy was leaning against a corner and seemed to be indulging in a fit of unrestrained hilarity.
“Miles, how long did I hold on for?” Hal bawled without warning with a volume that caused Burndee to flinch as if he had been shot.
“Sixty seconds!” the other brat screeched back.
Burndee shook his fist at the distant Miles. “You just wait till I catch up with you!” he shouted.
Miles very wisely disappeared around the corner, giving every appearance that he was still laughing.
Hal was glowing with delight. “I’ll bet no one’s ever held on for that long before! I’ll bet I set a new record! Wait till I tell the servants!”
Burndee was speechless. He—he—had been the source of teatime tattle? Or even worse—the source of interest for a gaggle of low, ill-bred kitchen gullions? And then to cap it all off, two dirty, impudent little hellions had been plotting over how to attack him as he was entering a courtyard minding his own business—no, worse—on a mission to protect this sticky-fingered little terror.
“How dare—” he began.
“—daring of you,” Ella cut in, shooting Burndee a look and nudging him at the same time. He was already off balance, and her nudge caused him to stagger a little in an undignified and impromptu dance, something that did not improve his temper any.
Ella blinked in surprise at him. “Goodness! Was it a bee, Burndee?”
He loved his wife to pieces, but sometimes she was uncommonly slow. “Ella . . .” he began through gritted teeth.
“Was it a flying beetle?” Hal asked eagerly. “I’m collecting them. Is it in your shirt? Can I have it? You didn’t crush it, did you?”
Burndee stuck a finger in his face. “You . . . you just don’t touch me for the rest of the afternoon—please,” he added savagely as Ella gave him an astonished frown. “And no, it was not a beetle. I don’t have any flying beetles and if I did have one, it would most definitely be dead now. I would not be cruel enough to give it over to you and your own devices.”
Hal shrank away from him, blinking. “Are you mad?” his eyes were cringing, but his tone was also faintly curious. He seemed convinced that Burndee was some kind of rare creature he was determined to study.
“Me? Mad? Of course not!” Burndee said, not bothering to hide the sarcasm.
Hal eyed him sagely. “That’s what everyone says when they’re mad at me.” He bit his lip. “I’m sorry if I hurt you. I was just trying to break a record. That’s my hobby. Do you have any hobbies?”
“Yes, I have a hobby, and it’s not one I like,” Burndee muttered. “It’s keeping pests like you out of trouble.”
“My uncle says that isn’t possible.”
Burndee eyed the boy, trying to decide if he was deliberately being saucy. The dirty face beamed back at him innocently. He was a stocky boy, with a round face. A sprinkling of freckles decorated the tip of his broad nose.
“Who are you, exactly?” Burndee asked, even though he had a sinking suspicion.
Burndee shut his eyes. He knew it.
“Excuse me,” Hal said, and suddenly dove into a hedge for no particular reason that Burndee could discern and disappeared after one brief violent struggle through the undergrowth—ignoring the perfectly good archway to his right in favor of decimating the hedge.
Burndee watched him leave and then exploded. “Ella—”
“Now darling,” Ella reproved, kissing him slowly and softly without warning, then smiled up into his face.
He felt that old foolish grin spreading across his face, and tried to snatch at the threads of his previous anger as they drifted away like leaves. Ella hugged him more tightly and he felt that rare peace washing over him as he bent to kiss her hair.
“Look at this!” Hal suddenly bellowed right beside them.
Burndee leaped away from Ella, mortified and furious as Hal leapt between them to pounce on a bright salamander that was scrambling for cover behind an urn of flowers. “Isn’t he a beauty?” Hal asked, holding him up for Burndee to inspect.
Ella was laughing, but for the life of him, Burndee couldn’t see what was so funny.
Hal seemed to think Ella’s laughter was a sign of approval for he smiled at her shyly and shoved the salamander in her face. “Would you like to hold him?”
Ella took one look and bolted, shrieking, and Burndee finally found something to be amused by.
SO? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I have been sitting on this particular twist on the fairy tale (the fact that Red is a eight year old boy, for YEARS. As for what role he plays in the book or how he and Burndee are connected . . . I’m not saying . . . yet.
JUST PRAY THAT I’LL FINISH THIS JINXED FIRST DRAFT AND YOU’LL FINALLY KNOW ALL, OKAY?
Anyway, I had a lot of fun writing Burndee with a child character because Burndee has no patience and he’s just like –
Even Ella’s good nature (as you can see) is tested by the rambunctious Hal. Actually, everyone’s patience will be tested by Hal… 😀
But I’d better stop now. *GIGGLES INTO HANDS*