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Tropey Tropes!

Been a lot of criticism lately of the way genre novels (and others) often employ “tropes” – what MW online calls “a common or overused theme or device.” The assumption, of course, is that the occurrence of a trope in a book means the author is full of cliches, has no imagination, and cannot write their way out of a soggy paper bag. I mean, if you were a REAL writer, you’d come up with stuff that was so unexpected and meaningful that nobody has ever thought of it before!

Except…

We’re humans, and we think up shit constantly. No matter what it is, somebody already thought of that. Tropes are actually, for writers, more of a shorthand way of identifying or including elements in a story that readers are known to seek. Tropes are akin to genre fiction itself, except in more detail — they’re like going to a restaurant that has things on the menu that you recognize. You order spaghetti (or romance books) because you want some damn spaghetti. And you order meatballs on your spaghetti (or a best friends to lovers trope) because you like you some damn meatballs.

The meatballs and spaghetti at this restaurant, and the best friends to lovers story by this author, taste different from other restaurants. And you love them more or less. You might even recommend them to friends. And you love spaghetti and meatballs regardless, even if you just had a plateful last week.

Because spaghetti. And best friends to lovers romances.

Am I right?

Hint: yes, I am right.

ANYWAY, this is all just because I found this list of tropes on author Mindy Klasky’s website and I wanted to share it!

https://www.mindyklasky.com/index.php/for-writers/romance-tropes/

I’m also going to start including the tropes I sprinkle into my books at the bottom of the blurb, for those of you looking for spaghetti WITH meatballs.

Jody W.

PS — Best friends to lovers is one of my favorites. My stories that employ this trope are: Kiss the Bride, Liam’s Gold, Holiday on Ice, and Pack and Coven 

 

Thor Helmet for Dolls and Peens

I wrote my first crochet pattern!

Doll-sized Thor Helmet

crochet helmet

© Jody Wallace 2018
www.jodywallace.com

Yarn: Sport weight or worsted. Hook: F.
Stitches: sc, hdc, dc, tc, sl st (American terms)

Crochet a simple sc (single crochet) beanie to fit your small amigurumi until it reaches the eyebrow area. This can approximate whatever pattern you used to shape the head. If you’re making it for a fashion doll or other store-bought item, a basic beanie pattern is:

  1. 6 sc in magic ring, do not join.
    2. 12 sc (2 sc in each around)
    3. 18 sc (2 sc, 1 sc around)
    4. 18 sc so it starts to curve)
    5. 24 sc (2 sc, 1 sc, 1 sc around)
    6. 24 sc so it curves more
    7. If it’s the right circumference now, then 24 sc until the beanie is where you want it. If it’s not, keep adding 6 sc per row (or every other row) until it is wide enough and then sc around until it fits.
    8. You can add a fancier edge on the last row – back or front loop only; sl st; alternate hdc, dc; fpsc; etc.

Note: If you skip the non-increase rows, the resulting hat will be less pointy. Basically do whatever fits your doll. This one is a bit too big for our Lady Thor.

Now for the Wings – Chin Guard

Base:
Ch 11 (or whatever length is needed to go from chin to mid-head), turn, 10 sc, ch 1, turn, 10 sc. This is the base part.

Wings:
Ch 4, turn, tc 2x in same, dc, dc, hdc, hdc, sc, sc, sl st, ch 1, turn. This should leave a couple stitches from the base untouched.

Sl st in first sc (ignoring the sl st from the last row), [ch 3, sl st in first ch (picot)], sl st in next st, picot, 6x total. Once you have 6 picot, the next st is a sc, not a sl st, and the picots are 4 ch, not 3 ch. The two bigger picots should line up with the 2 triple crochet st. To finish off, after you have completed the last picot, sl st in the same st, finish off.

Attach one on each side so they are balanced around the face of whoever is going to wear this hat. If they curl up too much, you can crochet the base part again (without the wings) and sew it to the underside of your chin guards. This will stiffen it up.

Note: If your hat wearer has a smaller head than this, you can condense the wings pattern accordingly. Such as, if the desired length of the base is 7 sc, then for the “wings” row you would do the two tc in the first stitch and then maybe 1 dc, 2 hdc, 1 sc. Experiment and see what has the right proportions for your doll and then duplicate it for the other side. It’s such a short / easy pattern that frogging it and trying again isn’t as painful as it would be with, say, a human hat!

You can crochet the wings in white or add other embellishments – buttons, beads, glitter!

This exists as a printable PDF at Ravelry.

*

Feel free to make this hat for personal use or to sell, but don’t re-sell or claim the original pattern or photos as your own. Please include a link to me if you post your creation/sell these hats! Give credit where credit is due. www.jodywallace.com

Fun Newish Cat Themed Venture

Long before I was a published author, I loved me some kitties. I have maintained the used-to-be-famous website www.meankitty.com since 1999.  Seriously, when the internet was a long younger, I WAS A CONTENDER! I got tons of mail every day, tons of submissions, and I miss the fun of people sending me cat photos and stories constantly.

Now about to be in its fourth incarnation, I’m redesigning and reformatting ALL THE BILLIONS OF KITTIES for everyone’s delectation, adding some human-based genre fiction commentary on some of the images, because why not?

You can check it out at www.meankitty.net! Want to be a part of it? Ask me how!

Jody W & Meankitty

Winter Holiday Story Roundup!

And by “roundup” I mean MY winter holiday stories, because there are ten billion wonderful winter holiday stories by other people and only THREE by me, which means I have a lot less work to do!

You are more than welcome to hook me up with other winter holiday books in the comments! I particularly love winter Regency stories, anything by Carla Kelly (link to search page of deliciousness: http://amzn.to/2BVnuO0)

Story One:

holiday on ice cover HOLIDAY ON ICE: Book 2 of Tallwood Tall Tales, novella length

Darcy’s got some pretty severe claustrophobia, so how is she going to survive being trapped in an ice storm, in the cab of a truck, on a packed interstate, with the hottest guy she’s ever met? And she really needs to pee, man. Just when you thought Christmas couldn’t get any more stressful.

Find out more or buy it for $2.99 at  AmazonSmashwordsB&NKoboiTunes

Story Two:

  Tallwood Tall Tales PREQUEL (short story)

Winifred Sampson can’t believe Peter Duvall ruined her new cashmere sweater at the honor society banquet and her secret crush, quarterback Chase McKnight, saw the whole thing. When an ice and snow storm hits Tallwood, Tennessee, right before the holidays, it looks like it might be a white Christmas for a change. Will Peter somehow ruin her Christmas too? Or is Mother Nature evil enough without Peter’s help?

Buy it FOR NOTHING everywhere but the Zon (99 cents at the stupid Zon): AmazonB&NiTunesKoboSmashwords

STORY THREE:

Short Story PREQUEL to SPELL FOR SUSANNAH

If the King is fated to love thirteen women before he turns fifty, is he still husband material? One cold, snowy Wintertide Eve, Queen Geneva of Foresta tracks her straying spouse in an attempt to discover where it is he goes at night (a motif that may reoccur later in life, when she has twelve dancing princesses on her hands.)

As she labors over the solution to her husband’s curse, King Reginald is attempting to discover a solution for a problem of his own–and for the entire Middle Kingdoms.

GET IT FREE! Even at the Zon – AmazonB&NiTunesKoboSmashwords

If you’re a reviewer, of course, I will hook you up and then will not stalk you or scream cyber imprecations if you don’t like my book(s).

Jody W. & Meankitty

Meankitty Wants to Know: Lea Kirk

Posting a bit late today because the human is irresponsible. Today’s interview subject is author Lea Kirk. Lea has written a book called MADE FOR HER (and probably some other books) and has already warned me, very sassily, that they are a no-cat household. So we’ll start out with a score of negative one.

Meankitty Wants To Know…

1) So you’ve written a book set in SE Smith’s wacky world of Magic, New Mexico. How many cats are in it?

Two. And they were lucky the heroine’s boss wasn’t hungry or they wouldn’t have made it out of the alley.

MK: OH MY DOG what kind of horrible book is this! I mean, there are cats, which is better than average, but…

2) If there are no cats in it, please explain how cats would probably have made the book better (hint: they definitely would have made the book better). If there are cats how would MORE cats have made the book EVEN BETTER?

I like cats just fine, and so does my antagonist–for completely different reasons. He says that one cat for each meal he consumed during the course of the story ought to be enough. I think the heroine’s two cats that she had to leave with her mother when she moved away are the perfect amount. They are good cats and don’t deserve to be eaten. (stares down Meankitty but blinks first.) Damn.

MK: If your heroine’s a cat person, she deserves SOOOOOOOOO much better than this. How dare you, madam! Let’s see. Two cats in an alley plus negative one plus two cats at the heroine’s mom’s house plus a hero who eats cats equals NEGATIVE HAIRBALL.

3) Are there cats in any of your other books?

No, but there are horses, chickens, and a very good dog in various books from my Prophecy series.

4) How about books by other authors with cats? Got any favorites?

Greta van der Rol has a new book out called For the Greater Good: Puss in Space. That sounds good, even though I haven’t bought it yet.

5) If you personally could shift into a cat, please tell us how you would utilize this power?

I’d climb a tree and meow until someone called the firemen to rescue me.

MK: I would give you a few positive points for this if you climbed down just as the harried firemen were taking out their ladders and went and twined around their legs while purring.

I don’t know if I’m brave enough to interview more authors after this kind of disappointment. WHO AM I KIDDING?? Bring it on, writer humans. You know how to find me.

Sincerely,

Meankitty

Meankitty Wants to Know: Jason Crutchfield

Today we have author Jason Crutchfield whose contribution to the Magic, New Mexico, world may or may not be up to my standard. Let’s find out.

1) So you’ve written a book set in SE Smith’s wacky world of Magic, New Mexico. How many cats are in it?

Alas, no cats make an appearance in Miss Fortune!

MK: NOPE. NO POINTS FOR YOU.

2) If there are no cats in it, please explain how cats would probably have made the book better (hint: they definitely would have made the book better). If there are cats how would MORE cats have made the book EVEN BETTER?

Throughout history, cats have taken roles ranging from worshiped deities to pagan familiars! Cats can add a wonderful sense of mysticism to any written work! Forgive me for not including one, mean kitty! You see, my book is about a man dealing with his misfortune and the supernatural woman that turns his luck around. I was just resisting the urge to reinforce the negative stereotype about black cats being bad luck! Honest!

3) Are there cats in any of your other books?

I have two other series, mean kitty. One of them is called NANO. It’s a finished series, and it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world. There are no animals at all. Not even cats! What a terrible world, indeed! My other series, an Urban Fantasy series called Cloud IX, is two books in! So far, no cats, but that’s not to say there won’t be any in the future!

MK: I’M FIXIN’ TO HAND OUT NEGATIVE POINTS, TWO-LEGGER.

4) How about books by other authors with cats? Got any favorites?

Harry Potter stands out to me. I’ve only read the first book in the series, but the shapeshifting/animagus Ms. McGonagall is a favorite of mine, although Mrs. Norris was quite funny!

5) If you personally could shift into a cat, please tell us how you would utilize this power?

I think I would use the power to vacation from human life. We have a tendency to get too swept up in this fake world we’ve built on top of the real one, and we often forget about the wonderful simplicity of the natural world. I’d love to be able to shift into a cat and get away from it all without earning the attention of people who might consider me crazy for wanting to sleep in a tree!

I have two cats, myself! Hippo (the brown cat rolling around!) and Loulou (the gray cat sitting by watching!) I’ve attached a photo of them as well as a photo of the Miss Fortune cover!

MK: I guess, since he’s owned by two cats, this writer human whose books aren’t as good as they would be with cats can get another zero instead of a negative number. What is wrong with you humans? Don’t you want TONS OF SALES AND FAME? Why aren’t you putting more cats in these books?

Sincerely,

Meankitty

Meankitty Wants to Know: Sabine Priestley

Ok, we’ve got another two-legger today who wrote one of those New Mexico books. Sabine Priestley wrote about WOLF SHIFTERS, of ALL THINGS, when she could have written about cats. So I’m worried how the rest of this is gonna turn out. Worried on Sabine’s behalf. She’d better not disappoint me.

1) So you’ve written a book set in SE Smith’s wacky world of Magic, New Mexico. How many cats are in it?

Well, um. There aren’t any cats. But I have a witch. She should have a cat, right? Yes, she has a cat. Oh, and we’ll call her Stella! It’s just that she’s not in the book… (eyes Stella nervously)

MK: YOU HAVE NOT SCORED ANY POINTS WITH THIS. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THOSE WOLF SHIFTERS.

2) If there are no cats in it, please explain how cats would probably have made the book better (hint: they definitely would have made the book better).

Yes, I do see your point (And the mean glare of Stella), a cat would most certainly have improved on the story line.

In my defense, there are animals! There are these lovely horse shifters that the elves are doing bad things to. And my co-stars are two juvenile shifters who haven’t shifted into their human form as yet. Jinx, is a snow leopard cub, and Lido is a white duck. They’re great friends and get into a lot of trouble. They’re also absolutely adorable. But, not as adorable as a cat. Cats rule. Kittens especially. (pets Stella lovingly)

MK: SNOW LEOPARD! CLOSE ENOUGH. YOU GET HALF A POINT SINCE YOU HAD DOGS IN THAT OTHER BOOK. BUT THE DUCK THING IS WEIRD. I’D LIKE TO TERRORIZE A DUCK, THOUGH. CAN’T LIE.

3) Are there cats in any of your other books?

Obviously the next book I write will have a cat in it. Or at least a cat like animal. (stop glaring at me stella, I never thought about putting a cat in a book)

4) How about books by other authors with cats? Got any favorites?

Does a poof count? Gini Koch has these adorable pet poofs that I totally want.

OUCH! Stella just bit me. Fine, a cat is way better than a poof. Except poofs can ride on your shoulder and–OUCH! Stop that! Bad Kitty!
Sorry, where were we?

5) If you personally could shift into a cat, please tell us how you would utilize this power.

At the moment I’d pounce on Stella and see who wins a wrestling match. I’d probably lose.

So, our first half-pointer. But not a zero! Better than I expected at this juncture. I guess the human’s writer people aren’t COMPLETELY doggy. But there’s always tomorrow…

Sincerely,

Meankitty

Meankitty Wants to Know: DB Sieders

When my human wrote her book about dragon shifters, which is stupid because it wasn’t about CAT shifters, she paired up with another human who is owned by cats, and that human also wrote about dragon shifters. I decided we should probably hear what this other disgraceful author has to say. Will author DB Sieders earn any points on my worthiness scale? Let’s find out.

1) So you’ve written a book set in SE Smith’s wacky world of Magic, New Mexico. How many cats are in it?

Sadly there are no cats in this one, but my dragon hero Aiden is pretty standoffish at first. He could pass for an aloof but secretly lovable kitty if he had the skills to shift into one!

Heroine Gillian does NOT have cat-like reflexes, but she’s super smart, just like a cat (shameless pandering to superior species). She uses her wits as much as her magic to get out of sticky situations.

2) If there are no cats in it, please explain how cats would probably have made the book better (hint: they definitely would have made the book better). If there are cats how would MORE cats have made the book EVEN BETTER?

LOL, I’m sure there are cat shifters in Magic, New Mexico, and there definitely should be more. Probably indoor, though, since it gets wickedly hot during the day. Kitties must be kept safe, cool, and hydrated.

3) Are there cats in any of your other books?

Ooh, the heroine in my current work in progress will be adopting a cat-like creature from the hell realm. She’s a fierce, demon-hunting machine on the outside, but on the inside she’s a big softie. Naturally a demon kitten in peril would tug at her heartstrings. I mean, come on! Who wouldn’t want a paranormal kitty? Or a regular kitty?

MK: YOU GET ONE POINT.

I totally need another cat. Any advice on how to get hubby on board?

MK: Get the cat. He won’t even notice. I hear he’s gone a lot.

4) How about books by other authors with cats? Got any favorites?

Of course! Jody Wallace! I also love Jody’s dragons in Silver Bound. This collaboration was so much fun, and I’m sure Barnabas will get a cat for Nadia as a token of his affection.

MK: Since “Jody Wallace” the human whom I own did not put cats in THIS book, it doesn’t matter how many she put in other books. SHE GETS ZERO POINTS.

5) If you personally could shift into a cat, please tell us how you would utilize this power?

I would shift into a cat to nap and to hide from my kiddos!

Pic 1: Poffertje (Dutch for “tiny pancake”), my 17 year old lady kitty who doesn’t care if I shame her for planting her hairy butt on my clean clothes.

Pic 2 = Captain Jack Sparrow, my 3 year old ginger boy who loves to keep my company in the bathroom and get “potty pets.”

So, DB Sieders gets one point. I’d give her another for the nice pets and cuddles, but she always pays more attention to the other cats in this house than she does me. I do like the look of Sassy Captain Jack, though…

Sincerely,

Meankitty

Meankitty Wants to Know: Trinity Blacio

The third victim the human found for me among her fellow Magic, New Mexico, authors is Trinity Blacio. Trinity comes close to getting a Meankitty score of zero, so read on to find out how!

1) So you’ve written a book set in SE Smith’s wacky world of Magic, New Mexico. How many cats are in it?

My story in Magic, New Mexico is called Loving Phoenix. I’m afraid there are no cats, sorry.

MK NOTE: UH-OH

2) If there are no cats in it, please explain how cats would probably have made the book better (hint: they definitely would have made the book better). If there are cats how would MORE cats have made the book EVEN BETTER?

Next book, I’ll make sure there is a cat or kitten in the book, since I own two cats myself and feed two more outside. Cats always know when you need some love, climbing on you even if you don’t like cats.

3) Are there cats in any of your other books?

Oh yes, I have Master of the Cats, it’s a whole series about big cats, tigers, leopards and whatever I can think of.

Here is the first book in the series, https://www.amazon.com/Masters-Cats-Collaring-Saber-Tooth-Book-ebook/dp/B00C2IZF58/

MK: OK YOU DON’T GET A ZERO!

4) How about books by other authors with cats? Got any favorites?

Feehen has a great cat series, Eve Langlais A Lion’s Pride

5) If you personally could shift into a cat, please tell us how you would utilize this power?

Oh there would be so many things I’d love to see through a cat’s eyes and let those who pissed me off get in my way. 😊  I’ve attached my oldest kitty, she is the queen of our home and is over 20 years old.

 

Meankitty Wants to Know: Aidy Award

Next up in my list of participants is Aidy Award who writes about human ladies who sound like they’d have the PERFECT laps to curl up in.

1) So you’ve written a book set in SE Smith’s wacky world of Magic, New Mexico. How many cats are in it?

Well, there aren’t any cats in A Touch of Fate. My curvy geek-girl witch heroine does have a familiar, but he’s a hedgehog.

Oh, wait. My lion shifter, Fed, makes a couple of brief appearances in this book. Lions count, right?

MK: I GIVE YOU ONE POINT.

2) If there are no cats in it, please explain how cats would probably have made the book better (hint: they definitely would have made the book better). If there are cats how would MORE cats have made the book EVEN BETTER?

Yeah, Kady the witch, probably should have had a whole tiny-house full of cats. My bad. I’ll make sure Fed’s heroine has lots and lots of cats.

3) Are there cats in any of your other books?

Yes! In my book Curvy Persuasion, my heroine has a cat named Slut-slut, who reminds me a little of you, Mean Kitty. She’s a very demanding cat, chastising the heroine who is a writer for not getting her books written. Slut-slut is is based on a cat we had who had about a million surprise kittens, thus the name.

MK: YOU ARE NOW UP TO TWO POINTS.

All your books R belong to Uno.

4) How about books by other authors with cats? Got any favorites?

I’m a fan of Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. It’s a very sweet children’s story that reminded me of my own kitten Uno, the naughty who loves to run around in the night, but always comes home to me.

5) If you personally could shift into a cat, please tell us how you would utilize this power?

Oh, if I could shift into a cat, I would use the power of naps! I love naps, and am often jealous of my cute (but naughty) sleeping kitties.

Find out more about TOUCH OF FATE at: http://geni.us/TouchOfFate

Tune in Monday for another author interview!

Sincerely,

Meankitty