Thursday, August 20, 2015

Exclusive Sneak Peek at New Twi Fan Fic

Cover by chantelleexx
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am writing a sequel to my very first fan fiction novel, Evening Star which starts at the prom at the close of Twilight and ends with Edward leaving Bella in New Moon and is written exclusively in Edward's point of view. 

In the Night Watches actually starts with a short story I have already published, "On Our Way Home," and will continue through the end of New Moon and into Eclipse as Bella makes her peace with Edward and the Cullen family after they all deserted her with nary a goodbye. There will be significant angst and anger as Bella readjusts to having the Cullens, especially Edward, in her life once again while also balancing her relationship with Jacob. 

Again, this fan fiction novel will be written from Edward's POV as he watches Bella struggle with the betrayal she feels at the Cullens' return and reintroduction into her life. And Edward also has significant struggles as well, namely with the fact that Jacob has neatly inserted himself into Bella's life, and Edward does not trust him any more than Jacob trusts him and the Cullens as a whole. Bella is caught in the middle, and she is definitely not happy about it. 

So that's the premise of In the Night Watches...and here is a rough, unpublished chapter that occurs after the short story "On Our Way Home" (which is available on both Wattpad and FanFiction.net). I may end up placing something after "One Our Way Home" and before this chapter when I actually start posting officially (and no, I don't know exactly when that will be--sorry!), but this chapter in some form will be somewhere near the beginning of the new story. 

Enjoy! :)


            The doors slammed shut, the reverberations of Charlie's anger echoing through the small house.

            But I couldn't help being proud of Bella for standing up for me to her dad. She had been magnificent—declaring to Charlie that we were a "package deal."

            Of course, I couldn't blame Charlie for forbidding Bella to see me. While his mind was mostly silent to me, occasional images broke through.

            And if I didn't happen to live for Bella’s sake, I would return to the Volturi this instant and beg for my death—which I obviously deserved from the glimpses of Bella during my absence that came to Charlie during their argument.

            "I don't trust him. He's rotten for you. I won't let him mess you up like that again," he had told Bella, and, hiding in her closet like a child, I saw the Bella Charlie had to deal with during my absence.

            So thin. So pale. Her beautiful, expressive eyes dull and unseeing. Her arms wrapped defensively around her middle as if she were trying to hold herself together.

            And the nightmares—night after night of her screams echoing through the house, Charlie remaining in his bed, agonizing over Bella's pain yet unable to help her. His feelings of utter uselessness in the face of his daughter's grief and loss rekindled his anger toward me.

            And deservedly so.

            But Bella had threatened to move out if Charlie wouldn't allow me back into his house…and back into Bella's life.

            And Charlie, despite his worn-out threat of Florida, wanted Bella with him more than anything on earth.

            I could hear Charlie downstairs, banging his mug on the counter as he poured himself his morning coffee. He was still livid over Bella's ultimatum which basically cornered him. But as long as Bella was under his roof, he had some ultimatums as well: punishment for going missing for three whole days without a phone call and without any indication of where she was or whether she was safe. And these punishments would be designed to separate Bella from myself as much as possible…humanly possible, that is.

            I stifled a groan at Charlie's smug thoughts of curfews, rules, and many others schemes to keep Bella and me apart. No, it wouldn't be easy, but Bella and I could bend the rules in ways that Charlie would never know about.

            Starting with what I had done mere moments ago: stealing into Bella's room through the window.

            Bella sighed, and I whisked from her closet to the rocking chair, waiting to continue our conversation…about marriage, a topic dear to my heart yet repulsive to my beautiful girl. I could only hope that my considerable powers of persuasion would wear down Bella's resistance.

            "Sorry about that," Bella sighed, nodding toward her door to indicate Charlie's unflattering (but truthful) opinion of me that he had voiced.

            I shrugged. "It's not as if I don't deserve far worse. Don't start anything with Charlie over me, please."

            Bella gathered a clean set of clothing and her bathroom things. "Don't worry about it," she assured me, but her brief smile did not reach her eyes. "I will start exactly as much as is necessary, and no more than that." She widened her eyes jokingly. "Or are you trying to tell me that I have nowhere to go?”

            I rolled my eyes. "You’d move in with a house full of vampires?" I asked. Of course she would.

            "That's probably the safest place for someone like me. Besides, if Charlie kicks me out, then there's no need for a graduation deadline, is there?" Her grin was teasing, but beneath it, I could tell that Bella was completely serious.

            "So eager for eternal damnation," I muttered, definitely not joking, either. She truly had no concept of attempting to exist as a bloodthirsty, soulless monster…forever.

            It was Bella's turn to roll her eyes. "You know you don't really believe that," she stated, and her complete certainty surprised me.

            "Oh, don't I?" I asked rhetorically. She had to understand the repercussions, but all she saw were the human qualities of my family, not the monsters we were beneath the fa├žade.

            She grinned at me, utterly unconcerned about facing a fuming vampire. "No. You don't."

            Glaring at her, I opened my mouth to retort, but Bella cut me off. "If you really believed that you lost your soul, then when I found you in Volterra, you would have realized immediately what was happening, instead of thinking we were both dead together. But you didn't—you said ‘Amazing. Carlisle was right,’" she reminded me, triumph clear in her voice. Leaning toward me, she whispered, "There’s hope in you, after all."

            For once, my beloved rendered me speechless.

            Smiling, she suggested, "So let's both just be hopeful, all right? Not that it matters. If you stay, I don't need heaven."

            Slowly I stood and cupped her face between my palms, gazing into her beautiful milk chocolate eyes. "Forever," I agreed, still reeling from Bella’s revelation. I had been so self-absorbed these months without her that I had to readjust myself to the following the highly unusual machinations of her silent mind.

            Placing her thin arms around my neck, Bella raised herself on tiptoe. "That's all I'm asking for," she whispered.

            And then she kissed me....    


Hope you liked it! 

~Cassandra :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo


All of the essays have been graded and returned for the 2014-2015 school year, and all final course grades have been submitted. So, I AM DONE!!!! YAY!! :)

I will be teaching an online Fan Fiction class with Brave Writer during the month of July, but the class is a piece of cake compared to the other classes I taught during the school year; my last class topped 1100 posts in four weeks, nearly all of which I responded to point by point.

But July also marks the return of Camp NaNoWriMo--a more relaxed version of November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Instead of the 50,000 words-or-bust scenario of writing a new novel as we do each November for NaNoWriMo, in Camp NaNoWriMo we set our own goals and write in different genres, if desired.


Cover by Chantelleexx at Wattpad

I plan to work on two novels alternately during Camp NaNoWriMo with an overall goal of 30,000 words--one thousand words per day, skipping the July 4th holiday. One novel will be a sequel to my first novel Evening Star, a Twilight fan fiction which has been titled In the Night Watches (for which the lovely Chantelleexx at Wattpad has created a beautiful cover!!), and the second will be a Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF), a continuation of Pride and Prejudice (currently untitled), starting with Bingley and Darcy's return to Netherfield after the Lydia/Wickham fiasco near the end of the novel.


Austen Variations Blog Header
I have spent nearly a year absorbing JAFF (as can be easily seen by the list of books I've read this year as posted in the sidebar of this blog), especially from the wonderful site Austen Variations which features the work of some incredibly-talented writers of variations and continuations of Austen's novels. I've become a devoted fan of their work, especially that of Abigail Reynolds, Monica Fairview, Mary Lydon Simonsen, Kara Louise, Jack Caldwell, Jane Odiwe, and many others. I've been able to borrow many of their novels through the state-wide California public library system called "LINK +," with the vast majority of the books coming from San Francisco and other Northern California public libraries. I've also invested in a few Kindle books by these authors when their books are not available through the library, plus I've been reading additional JAFF on FanFiction.net, especially by Astonishment, AnotherSentimentalFool, SophieTurner1805, Shaelelina, and DarcyFan1. So I am really excited about starting to write my own JAFF!

If anyone else is doing Camp NaNoWriMo, please feel free to "friend" me under the user name Cassandra Lowery, and we can encourage each other along the way. The beginning of my Jane Austen Fan Fiction novel can be read from the Writing Project Info page.



Happy Writing!

~Cassandra xxxooo

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Significant Switch...



Yes, it's been months and months since I've posted here, and that's for a significant reason. I've put Only by Moonlight on hiatus and have stopped reading all but a few ongoing Twilight fan fics, namely Nolebucgrl's "Getting Blitzed" and HopeSparkles' "He Came Along." (Oh, and one ballet one that I thought was called "Balancoire" but can't find under that title.) And I'll always read the work of ladylibre and Tardis19. But that's about it. 

The reason for this major change? 

I've kind of switched fandoms. 

Last May I wrote a Twilight/Regency (Jane Austen's time period) fic called "An Enchanted Evening" that bridged the two fandoms, and since then, I've been wrapped up in the world of Jane Austen. 



Especially since the school year began in mid-August, I've escaped from a tremendously-stressful teaching load through reading Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF), mostly those based on Pride and Prejudice. I have become addicted to the novels written by the incredible writers at Austen Variations and have been reading their ongoing stories as well as tracking down their novels through our library system (especially those of Abigail Reynolds!) and reading them voraciously. I've also been reading P&P fan fics through FF.net, and if you're interested, here are a few of my favorite JAFF authors on FF.net:

Sophie Turner (who also blogs at A Lady's Imagination

Astonishment

DarcyFan1

Shaelenina

I have started to write a couple of JAFF stories--just an outline and a few pages thus far. I hope to write more over the summer when I'm only teaching one online class, a Fan Fiction course at Brave Writer where I have been teaching since 2002. I've reduced my teaching load a bit for the 2015-2016 school year by asking to teach less-intensive online classes at Brave Writer, and I'll probably be teaching high school writing for my final year at our homeschool co-op next year as well. 

Plus, we're graduating homeschooler #3 in June (I can't call him "a child" at 5'9" and 210 pounds--he's more of a linebacker and works in landscaping/construction three days a week and does his schoolwork for our homeschool and the community college on Tuesdays and Thursdays), so next year I'll only be homeschooling our youngest. But he is learning-challenged and needs lots of my time to keep his workload at grade level. I spend 3-4 hours/day schooling him directly, in addition to teaching my co-op essay-writing class and nine online courses each school year. I also have my own essay grading service, so I'm grading the work of other homeschooled kids across the country via e-mail. 

In other words, I hope to have more time to write after June, but no guarantees; my pain levels from chronic autoimmune diseases have increased significantly due to this unusually high-stress school year, so I'm going to have to rest a good deal over the summer in order to recover. 

Perhaps I'll return to finish Only by Moonlight. Or perhaps I'll return to pursue the sequel (for which I've written a few chapters) to Evening Star (which for some strange reason is evoking a ton of reads and comments on Wattpad where it's approaching a million reads and Pinned but Fluttering is nearly at two million reads). 

Or I may pursue writing some real JAFF. We'll see.... 

Anyway, this is my life right now, and I just wanted to let you all know. 

Take care, my friends!

Warmly,
Cassandra xxxooo 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review of Passion and Propriety by Elise deSallier


I first became acquainted with the work of Elise deSallier when she was writing some of the highest caliber fan fiction I have ever read; her stories were positively addicting, and as I wrote review after glowing review, we began to correspond, especially regarding our experiences with chronic illness. 

Then she republished my favorite fan fiction story, A Forbidden Love in two parts: Innocence and Protection. A few weeks ago, I reviewed these two volumes which together tell the tale of the lovely and brave Annaliese and her marquis. With such compelling characters and edge-of-the-seat plotting, I enjoyed the published novels just as much as (if not more than) the original fan fiction story. 

After republishing her very popular and success fan fiction, Elise deSallier started writing a new series called Hearts of Honour, the first book of which is Passion and Propriety. When I read the opening chapter of this new book at the end of Protection, I was immediately hooked and quickly obtained a copy…which I read from first to final page in well under 24 hours. Yes, it was that good—and yes, it surpassed Innocence and Protection by a mile…even several miles. ;)

The unlikely heroine, Hannah, daughter of the village rector, nurses the cursed Viscount Blackthorn when he returns to his ancestral home to die from wounds encountered on the battlefield. Refusing to amputate his infected arm, William Blackthorn chooses to die rather than lose his limb and endure life as a cripple. Hannah enlists the help of her lifelong friend and talented herbalist, and together they save Blackthorn’s arm and his life. 

Why does Hannah take on nursing a stranger in his ancestral home, unchaperoned? Hannah is nearly thirty and is considered by the townspeople to be a spinster; in addition, she recalls fond memories of playing with William when they were children. But William returns not only on the brink of death but also with a terrible curse: the wives of the last several Viscounts Blackthorn, including William’s own father, have lost their wives to childbirth. Thus, William plans to never marry and thus to carry the curse to his grave.

But thanks to Hannah’s dedicated nursing, he survives. And the events that unfold as the story progresses are riveting indeed. The characters are wonderfully human and believable; they stole my heart and my imagination immediately. The story lines are complex yet clear; each twist and turn is surprising yet makes perfect sense. (Caution: contains some detailed intimate scenes.) I was positively spellbound by this book, and I am thrilled that Elise de Sallier has at least two more books planned for this series. If they are as amazing as Passion and Propriety, I shall be a very happy reader indeed. 


Link to Passion and Propriety Amazon page for purchase

Link to Elise deSallier's Amazon site

Link to Elise deSallier's Goodreads page 


Happy Reading!
~Cassandra :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Reviews: Innocence and Protection by Elise deSallier


I originally read Elise deSallier's books Innocence and Protection as a fan fiction under the title Forbidden Love on FanFiction.net. Because I have always been enamored by Regency-era books (even before I read Jane Austen), I was immediately drawn into Ms. deSallier's story of a shy eighteen-year-old girl who is forced to escape when her father's heir comes to claim his inheritance by shooting her father. The heir then plans to force the girl to marry him, but under her father's direction, she flees with two servants to the safety of her father's best friend, a powerful duke. 

However, the duke just left the previous day for an extended honeymoon with his new wife, and, assuming that her father is dead, the girl is forced to masquerade as a servant in order to stay in the duke's home. As her father told her to reveal her true identity only to the duke himself, the girl believes that she will be safe since the duke enforces an unusual policy against the family and guests in his home fraternizing with the servant girls, a true rarity in this time and place. Thus the girl believes that she will be safe until the duke's return. But then the duke's son, a handsome marquess, is immediately drawn to her despite her servant status and his father's firm policy against such fraternization....



I thoroughly enjoyed reading Innocence and Protection, but I must raise a caveat that there are graphic scenes depicting intimate acts. These scenes can be easily skipped over if reading them is problematic.

I enjoyed the original fan fiction so much that I read it three times, and now to read this tale as a published pair of novels is a real treat. The characters are unforgettable, the plot compelling, and the writing well-developed and polished. I prefer the plot of Innocence slightly more than that of Protection, but both novels work together to tell the story of a young, frightened, innocent girl rising to the occasion as she is caught up in various sorts of intrigue. Both books also deal with important social situations of the British Regency era as well: the abolition of the slave trade and the plight of young girls forced into untenable situations, either by employers or by slave traders of a different sort.      

Thus, this pair of novels (and they must both be read together; they cannot stand alone) go beyond mere romance to explore the social situation of women in the Regency era. While the romance is the main story line of Innocence and Protection, the issues of marriage, power, class, and women's social position create a compelling and memorable tale that will not be soon forgotten.     

Both books are available on Amazon in print and e-book form:
Elise deSallier's Amazon page
Innocence
Protection

Elise deSallier has also just released the first book in the Hearts of Honor series called Passion and Propriety. I read an excerpt from this new book at the end of Protection and was definitely drawn into the story; I'll be reading and reviewing it in the near future. 

Enjoy!

Warmly,
Cassandra :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New On-Shot: "Weeping May Endure for a Night..."



Back in April during the first Camp NaNoWriMo 2014, I was scribbling a couple of stories in a notebook while also typing away on Only by Moonlight. While one of these stories was the beginning of the sequel to Evening Star (still unnamed as yet), the other was written for a TwiFic Doctorward Contest. But I didn't have time to finish the story before the June 4 deadline, so I shelved it for a while, allowing it to simmer on my mind's back burner as I worked my (rather generous) behind off teaching both online and in the classroom in addition to homeschooling two teenaged boybarians. 

When this month's Camp NaNoWriMo came around, I dusted off Doctorward and typed him up, adding a bit here and there. This past week gave him real substance, and by the time I sent him to the brilliant ladylibre, he was nearly ready for posting. She adored the story, giving me some great revisions where I got too wordy (naaah, never happens! <grin>), and stating that this one-shot was among the best stories I had ever written. Even my husband, who rarely reads my fiction, read it and really liked it, too. 

So here is the beginning of this Doctorward tale entitled "Weeping May Endure for a Night...":


Weeping May Endure for a Night…

by Cassandra Lowery

            It was nearly midnight when I finally got home. Only the darkness greeted me as I entered and locked the door of our flat behind me. By force of habit, I dropped my keys into the ceramic dish on the small entryway table. Loosening my tie, I peered into the mirror hanging over the table, barely able to see myself in the glow of the city lights shining through the open windows.
            I looked like crap. Dark shadows encircled beneath my eyes, and my face was paler than usual, bordering on haggard.
            That’s the kind of word she would have used if she were here…”haggard.”
            I turned away from the mirror and paused in the kitchen doorway. Although I had managed to skip both lunch and dinner, I knew that there was no way that I could eat tonight; the knot of pain and grief in my stomach made the mere thought of food seem repulsive. Trying to ignore the slight dizziness that accompanied my lack of sustenance, I dropped onto the sofa—our sofa. Bella had loved it at first sight, choosing it for its comfort and for its rather shabby, “homey” appearance.
            She was so wise in such things.
            Most of my colleagues’ wives were focused on spending their physician husbands’ pay as quickly as it was earned, frittering away huge sums on designer clothing and spa treatments, decorating and redecorating their expensive homes as their main occupation, and sporting the latest model BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz.
            Not my Bella.
            God, I missed her.    
            I rubbed at the persistent ache in my chest.
           She had decorated our home with estate sale finds, getting up at ungodly hours nearly every Saturday morning to comb through the eclectic neighborhoods of Chicago, dragging home a bureau, a bookcase, an end table, an armchair, or some other “amazing find”—along with stacks and stacks of ancient books that she “just couldn’t resist.”
            When I objected to the number of books she trundled home, she’d grin unrepentantly and declare that it was the price I had to pay for marrying a writer.
            How I adored that mischievous grin….
           


I hope that you'll enjoy reading "Weeping May Endure for a Night..." on both Wattpad.com and on FanFiction.net

I also updated Only by Moonlight last night as well, adding Chapter 14. I'm currently working on a draft of Chapter 15, and I hope to finish drafting Chapter 15 and Chapter 16 before the close of Camp NaNoWriMo. I know that I won't reach my goal of 30,000 words being written this month, but I have written, revised, editing, and polished two pieces of writing which add up to nearly 9,000 words, revising and polishing them at least four times each. 

During August, I'll be preparing for Year #18 of home education in which I'll be teaching our high schoolers in grades 9 and 12, plus preparing for three online Brave Writer courses (two of which are new Literary Analysis classes), and two courses for our home school group's co-op Class Days, one of which is a new Shakespeare class that will require a lot of preparation. But I'm still hoping to tuck more raw writing into the corners of my days (and nights) so that when fall arrives, I am hoping not to leave you hanging for two months again! :) 

Happily writing,
~Cassandra :)