Priya, a name that suggests beautiful. Amell, a name that suggests all powerful. One is a beautiful young lady; the other a beast.
Welcome to one of the April 14th stops on the blog tour for Beauty in the Beast by Emily-Jane Hills Orford with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, more author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
Who am I?
When I teach creative writing (for any age group), this is one of the first exercises I ask of my students. It’s also the last exercise. Why? It’s quite simple, really. First of all, as writers, we are constantly being asked to provide author biographies. This, of course, is written in third person. However, we also need to define ourselves from a more personal perspective, in first person. By defining ourselves as writers, we strengthen our writing resolve and we come to the stark realization that this process of “who am I?” is an ongoing, multi-dimensional, ever-changing exercise. Everything in the world is in a state of flux and so are we as writers. As writers, we have to know who we are in this big, diverse world before we can ever begin to place ourselves and our souls into everything we write.
So, who am I? I am a writer. Therefore, I am immortal. Pretty powerful words for one such as I, relatively unknown (for now, but that will change, I hope). I am a storyteller, a descendent of many storytellers, a passionate believer in the simple fact that life is a story just waiting to be told. All that a life story needs is a writer to believe in the story, to believe in its worth, to write the story.
I come from a long line of storytellers: my parents, my grandparents. They were all wonderful storytellers. My grandmother (we called her Gran) was an exceptional storyteller. Everything in her life was a story and she made her life into a story. She was cute, too, always starting her story with the line: “You know, Jean” (if she was talking to her daughter, my mother) or “You know, Emily” (if she was talking to me). We always knew that a story was coming when Gran said those special words: “You know,” especially when it continued with: “You know when I was your age…”
Gran didn’t live with us. In fact, she lived in another town, about an hour-and-a-half away. She would come to visit about once or twice a month, taking the bus and, most likely, talking all the way to whomever she sat beside. (Needless to say, we heard everything about her travelling companion as soon as she stepped off the bus.) She would stay with us for several days, talking nonstop from the moment she arrived until she walked out the door, of course, always starting with, “You know”. One time, as she was leaving, she turned to Mom and said, “You know, Jean, maybe next time I visit we’ll have time to sit down and chat.” And this statement after a week of long, nonstop, storytelling, all starting with, “You know”.
In the end, yes, we did know a lot of Gran’s stories. By the time she was into her nineties, there were some stories that we knew better than others because she kept repeating them. It was at that point that I chose to write down what I remembered and to question Gran as much as I could to capture the other stories that she had shared so often in the past. I didn’t get them all and I’m still kicking myself today that I didn’t make a more permanent recording before she passed away. Sadly, some stories have been lost. Gran did keep a journal. We found some of them, dating as early as the 1920s, during her courting years, and others as late as the 1970s and 80s when she was doing a lot of traveling. There must have been more; but they are long gone. Gran believed in traveling light through life, a strong belief that you can’t take it with you so why keep it at all.
Using my grandmother’s journals and my mother’s memories, I wrote Gran’s story, calling it Personal Notes, the heading that I found on one of the notepads that contains her journal entries. My grandmother’s stories and my mother’s stories, which I have also just recently published in a creative nonfiction book, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures, are important stories to share. My mother was a very energetic and creative individual. She raised a family, taught elementary school, did countless creative projects and inspired a whole generation of like-minded creative individuals. Her photography was her forte and I called her story F-Stop, using the lens adjustment of ‘real’ cameras (before digitals took over) as a metaphor for her life. In fact, F-Stop could be a metaphor of anyone’s life, as we all go through our lives making adjustments as we go along.
These stories, my stories, can be defined, described as creative nonfiction: writing a story about a real event, a real person, a real life. Writing, after all, reflects our lives, our individuality, our personalities. Writing, (whether it’s fiction or nonfiction) is about us, ourselves.
Perhaps the ideal of writing what we know, writing about ourselves, our families, our lives, will not guarantee manuscript sales. However, it does guarantee that, in our writing, we are true to ourselves. We have to remember that what we write is permanent and we should ask ourselves if we want future generations to read, to really read, all that we have written. If we can truthfully answer ‘yes’, then we have found our inner voice, our writer’s voice.
I have to believe that I am being true to myself as I venture from one story-writing adventure to another. The world is full of stories just waiting to be told. On a recent CBC radio interview, I was asked why I thought my mother’s story was so important, why my mother’s life was so significant that I should write an entire book. When I was submitting my grandmother’s story, years ago, I frequently received rejection letters from big-name publishers telling me that they would only consider a biography of a famous person. My argument since then has been, how many books do we really need about famous people, when there are so many un-famous, more than ordinary, extra-ordinary, beyond the ordinary lives whose stories should be, need to be told. These are the stories that make our world, which define our world and our lives; these are the stories that describe who we are. Extra-ordinary people – we are all extra-ordinary, we all have a story to tell, our story.
Our word, our written word is eternal. As we reach out to find our inner voice, our own unique, individual voice, we might ask, what is it that makes a life so special? For me, all life is special. Neither my mother nor my grandmother was rich and famous. Perhaps the ‘special’-ness of these people is the simple act of someone believing in them enough to write that person’s story, making that special person immortal, as are you and I as writers.
Who am I? I am the characters in my stories, mostly the protagonists. I am Priya, the beauty in my recent fantasy novel, Beauty in the Beast. Like Priya, I am strong, thoughtful, caring; I am a beautiful person inside and out, and I’m bold and creative. I am also Kat, Priya’s sister-in-law, the cat-mutant who is ever insightful, observant, strong and, also like Priya, caring. I even have some of Susan’s qualities (she’s the Sasquatch, D’Sonoqua, another mutant that’s somehow related to Priya). Like Susan, I’m introverted, but also caring to those around me, caring in a quiet sort of way, not wanting to seek attention or accolades.
I might be somehow connected to other characters in my book, but Priya is the one with whom I feel the strongest connection. We both love to create; we love books, tearooms, history, and music. We love that special baby grand piano that we inherited from our childhood home. But I’m more than the characters in my stories.
Who am I? I’m a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, teacher, mentor, student, friend, a lover of dogs and a person of many creative talents. I am what I create; I am who I am. Who am I? I’m Emily-Jane Hills Orford, author of many books, needle artist, collage painter, gardener, and so much more.
About the Book
Beauty in the Beast
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
Published 26 February 2022
Tell-Tale Publishing Group LLC
Genre: Science Fantasy
Page Count: 210
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Priya, a name that suggests beautiful. Amell, a name that suggests all powerful. One is a beautiful young lady; the other a beast. Their paths have crossed before, only Priya doesn’t remember Amell from her past. Or does she? And what does it all mean? The Amell she meets is part beast. So are the others at Castle Mutasim. Is she one of them, too? How can this be? What manner of creature would experiment on other living creatures, to mutate them into something bizarre and, sometimes, downright dangerous? Priya has to know. She wants to know. And she wants to make things right.
“Wait!” she called out in vain, but it was too late. Her escorts had vanished. She was alone. In the forest. With a strange creature trekking ever closer. She could hear the crunching of underbrush. Was it Roderick? Wayne? Or the unknown? D’Sonoqua? “Wait!” She stood frozen in place. Unable to move. Her weeks of training useless, for here, in the moment of urgency, she couldn’t think of what to do. Mind freeze! Lifting her head slowly, she let out a wail of frustration, the volume of her voice matching the creature in pursuit. The crashing was mere feet away and yet, still, she saw nothing but the forest. The trees. The shrubs. The annoying vines and fallen branches which threatened, and did, trip her. Again.
And, finally, she knew what to do. She ran. There wasn’t room enough to spread her wings and fly. At least, she didn’t think so. Jumping to the lowest tree branch, she used her chimpanzee prowess to grab hold and swing. She gained momentum in the swaying motion and swung herself to the next branch. A little higher this time. A little lower the next. Until she found herself facing a long stretch of sand and gravel and the wide, open waters beyond.
The beach. They had been headed toward the beach. The ancient village had stood along this stretch. Nothing remained. Only sand. Gravel. And the flapping waves lapping against the shoreline.
She swung once more and landed in a thick, soft patch of sand. The crunching was still close. Behind her. All around her. It echoed in the open spaces. Was this a test? Had Roderick and Wayne been set up to abandon her here? To test her abilities? She didn’t have time to ponder the possibility. An ear-piercing shriek, mere feet behind, made her jump and set off in a burst of momentum. She ran toward the water and splashed in the incoming tide, leaving a sloshing sound in her wake as she plundered ever forward.
But the creature, whatever it was, continued its pursuit. She was the prize. The victim. And, before the beach ended, she felt something grab her firmly, swinging her body in a circular motion as a parent might spin a child for pleasure. Only this wasn’t pleasure. And she was being swung much higher, much faster, until with a single toss she landed wrapped around a furry set of shoulders, hands and feet firmly gripped. She tried to resist. No use. The grip was too tight. She tried to scream, but only earned a mouthful of rancid, fowl-smelling fur which made her gag.
The creature roared. Shrieked. Roared some more. And ran. The motion was jolting. Jarring. Priya bounced relentlessly, her body repeatedly bruised with each new contact it made with the creature as the two plunged back into the forest. As branches chortled against the two, Priya sought refuge by burying her head in the furry shoulder, breathing gently so as not to gag further at the stench. It was either that or have her head scraped to shreds by resisting tree appendages.
They tore deeper into the forest, up and down inclines until finally the creature stopped. Abruptly. Dropping Priya roughly to the ground.
About the Author
Emily-Jane Hills Orford is a country writer, living just outside the tiny community of North Gower, Ontario, near the nation’s capital. With degrees in art history, music and Canadian studies, the retired music teacher enjoys the quiet nature of her country home and the inspiration of working at her antique Jane Austen-style spinet desk, feeling quite complete as she writes and stares out the large picture window at the birds and the forest. She writes in several genres, including creative nonfiction, memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction.
Emily-Jane Hills Orford will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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|Apr 14||All the Ups and Downs||Apr 14||Straight From the Library|
|Apr 15||Sybrina’s Book Blog||Apr 15||Hope. Dreams. Life… Love|
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