TURKISH DELIGHT

As a writer, it makes sense to me to ferret out arcs, plot and character in unlikely places if only to knock loose that most elusive of creatures: the impish muse. And so, it was to that end that I began binging in earnest eclectic series on Netflix, Crave and the now defunct and sorely-missed Shomi platforms.

What an odyssey! Binging not only allowed this student to pick out problems with continuity, pacing, character cred and sagging middles (season four of almost anything) to name a few, but it also sling-shotted back the fixes that, I think, really make a story groove.

mag-century-1

It is to this point that I’m delighted to highlight a story-telling gem that I cannot get enough of, the incomparable Turkish period soap MAGNIFICENT CENTURY (available on Netflix Canada and other adventurous steaming outlets). Debuting in 2011, this 16th century historical romance details the triumphs and travails of Crimean-born Alexandra aka Roxelana aka Hürrem Sultan who turned the house of Sultan Suleiman upside down at a time when Ottoman rule was mounting an ambitious and often ill-fated sweep into Europe.

Maybe it’s a visual thing?

mag-century-sadSold into the harem by her Tatar kidnappers, 15-year-old Alexandra not only wins the favor of the Sultan (after much soul searching—she is the daughter of an Orthodox priest) but goes on to marry and live with her volatile spouse for the entire span of her life.

Those who know a little about Ottoman history grumpy-suleimanknow how uncommon a move like this actually was, given that sultans typically packed off their concubines with the princes they produced once the ‘young lions’ turned 16 and were deemed old enough to govern a principality of their own.

Hürrem, famously captured by the artist Titian (another first), took no prisoners when it mag-century-4came to protecting herself, her off-spring and even her sultan. Against tradition, she became the legal wife of a king in a royal house that did not have queens, bore five sons and a daughter against the one son per concubine policy, and was laid to rest in a tomb far grander than her spouse’s and immediately adjacent to him in the Süleymaniye Mosque.

A reinterpretation of history for art’s sake? No.

That this ‘character’ was actually real and pulled these rabbits out of her magical hat will be the subject of further personal study.

pargalaHistory, without question, drew me to this story. But what keeps me there (humorous subtitles notwithstanding) is the inane and highly unusual circumstances major and minor characters alike find themselves in. What, for example, distinguishes a major execution from a minor one? How far can second concubine push her agenda when the Haseki (1st concubine) and Valide (sultan’s mom) precede her and really, really don’t like her? And how does one remove a greedy grand vizier from the picture when his friendship with the sultan borders on a bromance to end all others?

The show runners of HBO’s excellent ROME series remind us that a lot of what the mag-century-schemeingcharacters feel and do in this type of genre is governed by a culture and belief system that so totally predate everything we know in the current CE that we at times question the credulity of the plot. We shouldn’t. Duking it out over who sits under the canopy is normal. Hürrem Sultan would rather commit suicide than allow a new Russian concubine into the harem and tells her sultan so with flourishing soundtrack to back her up. And she’d do it were it not for the fact that she knows him so well!

Melodrama at its best!

hurrems-ringsWith the soap genre allowing for glacial pacing (finding the stolen ring happened over a three-episode arc) the story still grooves, thanks to ambitious characters, raucous political and personal agendas, and costuming that, frankly, thrills.

The art direction, too, is luxe and adventurous, at times using painted murals (a la the old Sinbad movies of the Sixties) and digital gaming CGI that we know is ‘fake’ but is no less satisfying and entertaining. (Note: watch for the same flying bird patterns over the Vatican, the Buda palace of King Louis of Hungary and the Topkapi palace in Constantinople.)

Over the top and fast forward, even at snail’s pace, may not be new, but if MAGNIFICENT CENTURY is any indication, it somehow works and might be a grand fix for many things writerly.

What I could do if I could bring kitsch und vroom to the page. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

Stay tuned.

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am

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#amwriting #amwatching #magnificentcentury #writerslife

#GUESSWRITE WINNER TANYA CHRIS TALKS RELATIONSHIPS & FORGIVENESS WITH HER NEW M/M COMING-OF-AGE ROMANCE

Welcome to the blog, Tanya!

1.

Tell us about you.

fred-the-catI live in the northeastern United States with my boyfriend and my cat. I’m going to allow my boyfriend his privacy, but the cat’s name is Fred. Here’s a picture of him dressed up for Christmas. You can see how much he enjoyed that. Fred’s favorite things are pats and food. If you aren’t feeding him, you should be patting him, and if you aren’t patting him, you’re useless and must die.

Oh, you said tell you about me. My favorite things are chocolate and good reviews. Don’t make me kill you.

Ed.- You got me at hello 😉

 

2.

Optimist or pessimist?

Optimism and pessimism are different filters through which we try to predict the future. I’ve given up on trying to predict the future. Whatever will be, will be, and it’ll be all right, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. So, that sounds somewhat optimistic.

 

3.

You have a lot of themes at play in WHEN IT ALL FALLS DOWN. Without giving spoilers, what underlying message do you hope to convey through the work?

The primary theme in When It All Falls Down is that relationships (people) are all that matter but that in order to make our relationships work, we have to be forgiving of each other.

 

4.

Are we better off as a society today? What, in your opinion, is the biggest lesson learned from our past?

We really are. I know it doesn’t feel that way in the US right now, but progress has never been linear. The overall trend, if you look at the history of civilization, has always been towards a more inclusive rendering of “liberty and justice for all” and I don’t think anyone can stop that upward trend for long, even if they manage to set back the clock temporarily.

 

5.

Growing up is tough. Growing old, maybe tougher. What does the raging success of the 50 Shades series say about adult readership?  Are they missing the point?

I haven’t read 50 Shades, so I can’t render an opinion on the series itself, but it’s an example of the billionaire trope which is enjoying popularity right now. Women today are required to be very strong, very adult, and so the temptation is there to escape into a world where someone (a man, for those who are heterosexual) takes over the adulting. That doesn’t mean those women want to abdicate control in real life, but at the end of a day of juggling work, family, and cultural expectations, they’re tired and sometimes overwhelmed and they deserve whatever fantasy brings them relief and joy.

 

6.

The definitions of family and gender are changing. Is it legislative or evolutionary?

I don’t think the compositions of family or gender are changing, just our ability to recognize the legitimacy of those various compositions thanks to social evolution. Legislation then slowly catches up to understanding.

 

7.

What are you working on now?

My next release will be Aftercare, which is a M/M BDSM romance. It features a Muslim immigrant (a very urbane, but somewhat, reluctant Dom) and the attorney who’s handling his brother’s murder case. I’ll be releasing that hopefully in April if I can get the editing finished! In the meantime, I’m writing a dystopia like everyone else in the US.

 

8.

Any last words?

I just want to put in a plug for the #guesswrite competition on Twitter. Any writer who’s trying to break in to self-publishing can definitely benefit from this prize package. I’m grateful to all the people who came before me, like the hosts of #guesswrite, for their guidance and example. I’ve made friends through Twitter and through NaNoWriMo who’ve critiqued my manuscripts, shared their lessons-learned, and been a source of inspiration and motivation. Remember: relationships are everything.

Ed. – Amen, sista!

 

When It All Falls Down

by Tanya Chris
Published by Tanya Chris Publishing (self-published)

M/M contemporary, coming-of-age romance, 64K words

Available 2/2/17 from Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. Eligible for Kindle Unlimited.

http://mybook.to/WIAFD

 

Blurb:

wiafd-cover-75dpiMaybe Charlie should have waited until he graduated high school before coming out, because since that revelation there’s been a growing distance between him and his friends. Charlie’s tough, though. He doesn’t mind eating lunch alone or watching his former gang interact with their new best buddy. What he does mind is seeing Drew Lavoitt suffer the same fate.

Drew didn’t come out. As far as he, or anyone else knows, he’s straight. What Drew did is accidentally hit and kill a little girl. Now the boy who was voted Most Popular, and who Charlie has maybe had a crush on since eighth grade, faces financial ruin, expulsion, and the fear that if he’s not everything, he’s not enough.

Popularity, wealth, acclaim—these things are easily lost. In each other’s arms, Drew and Charlie find something that can’t be taken from them. Together the two build a foundation on which they can re-create their lives.

 

Excerpt:

“Drew, I’m not your boyfriend.”

“At school, you said yes.”

“I can be your boyfriend at school, if that makes it easier for you to be at school, but I’m not your real boyfriend. Are you really expecting me to be … faithful to you?”

“I came out to my parents for you.”

“I don’t understand that part either. I don’t understand any of this.”

“What’s so hard to understand, Charlie? I want to be your boyfriend. Not just at school. All the time. But if you don’t want me—”

“Come on,” I said, cutting him off, “don’t start the drama up. You’ve got to know how much I want you.”

“Then we don’t have a problem.” He snuggled deeper into my side until he was rubbing his cheek along mine, our faces pressed right up together. Drew might not have a problem, but I did. My problem was that I wanted to turn my face into his and kiss him—not a quick brush of lips like what he’d given me in the hallway yesterday but the real thing. And then I decided, fuck it. I’d show him that being my boyfriend wasn’t what he wanted.

He was startled when I did it—when I brought my hand up to cup the back of his head and hold him still so I could really get my mouth against his, my tongue between those softly parted lips. Like he hadn’t been expecting it, like he hadn’t known that this was what happened when you rubbed your almost-too-skinny boy body up against a gay guy. He gasped, which opened him further up to me, and his body got stiff where it had been pliant, and I thought you see? and then that thought vanished beneath a whole bunch of oh my God because once he got past that initial shock, he kissed me back.

Praise for When It All Falls Down

“Read this faster than I’ve read anything in ages. Bittersweet, and strangely addictive.”

“Lately, books have seemed almost boring…and then I read this one.”

“Drew and Charlie are instantly shippable, love these boys to pieces.”

 

About the Author

tanyachrisTanya writes in a variety of romantic and erotic genres, being an avid follower of many of these genres herself. Some of her favorites are M/M romance, MFM threesomes, and BDSM with male submissives.

Tanya lives in New England with her boyfriend and her cat and has participated in many of the activities about which she writes, but not all of them. It’s left to the reader to decide which are which.

http://www.tanyachris.com
Twitter: @tanyachrs
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tanyachrispublishing/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15067939.Tanya_Chris

 

Thanks for dropping by, Tanya. See you around the Twitterverse! — A.B.

 

COMING OFF HIATUS

With just two chapters — that’s right — TWO chapters — left on the WIP, I though it was time to come out of #amwriting hiding to fire up the blog.

teaser-2So much has happened since the start of the year, beginning with the home stretch gallop for SHELL GAME, my third in the Unapologetic Lives Series. What began as a reaction to an aggressive letter from city hall has turned into a novel journey that examines relationships through the eyes of a feral tabby cat.

Equal parts dark and humorous, SHELL GAME  didn’t reveal it’s true self until the tag lines started teasing their way off of the pages.

It’s to all those amazing Twitter hashtag games geared to writers that I owe a debt for knocking the subtext loose:

#amwriting Psycho-social #cat #dramady with death and laughs #Thurds Words #ShareWrit

#SHELLGAME This time, the cat wins #2bitTues

A pastoral community tweaks when it crosses the black #cat #humor #wip #wipjoy #GuessWrite

This proves again what I have always known about art: ready or not, it finds you. And in this vein, I’m pleased to share two things, beginning with this chestnut:

Writing is one part of the author journey. Getting up and performing is another.

There’s no way to sugar coat performance: it’s tough. Even the most accomplished veterans, the late Sir Laurence Olivier most famously, suffered from mighty stage fright. Canada’s own Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip, I recently learned, is another. But reading the work is critical to getting the word out that writers are alive and well and writing. Believe me, the reading out loud gets easier with practice, and I proved it again just the other night.

compositeBack in 2013, a group of crime-loving authors came together and launched NOIR AT THE BAR, an event that has spread across the country and south of the border too. The February 16 event in Toronto provided a golden opportunity to get up and read from the WIP. Was I nervous? You bet! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! Writers Rob Brunet, Jennifer Soosar, Tanis Mallow, Hope Thompson, Ian Hamilton, and Howard Shrier shared their dark work with aplomb, along with Noir img_2340Founding Father Peter Rozovsky, who came all the way up from Philly to do so.

That I found myself in such august company was in large part due to hard work (the writing) but also finding the wherewithall to bravely get out to as many events as I could so that I could talk up what I was getting up to (the writing). The invitation to read at Noir followed.

Which leads to the second chestnut:

Talking about your work is well and good as long as you pass on the good karma by talking about the work of others.

paintnet-guess-writeThe incredible power of february-9the Twitter hashtag game cannot be stressed enough. For while the Twitterverse is huge, it lends itself to lasting relationships forged through shares, one line at a time.

Case in point: A group of us recently got together and pooled our hashtag games under the umbrella of #GuessWrite. Each month, game hosts like yours truly, offer up a different theme that acts as a clue to a single, larger #GuessWrite theme. The lucky tanyachrisparticipant(s) that guess the theme share in a prize pack offered up by the hosts. It is through this that I am able to share this space with February 2017 #GuessWrite winner Tanya Chris. Tanya and I have crossed paths many times through #2bitTues #1lineWed #ThruLineThurs, #Thurds Words and many, many more. Yet it is through the shared resources of participating writer gamers that I have the honor to feature her work here.

I can feel the good Karma, already. Can you?

And so it is, without further ado, that I sign off here and get to work on Tanya’s feature post, which will go live later today.

Such joy to be back here in the Blogosphere!

Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,

I am
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#amwriting #amblogging #amreading #amsharing #writerslife

February 17, 2017