A Side Trip to Versailles


Alexander Vlahos as Philippe on Versailles. Pic from Ovation.

Last night J and I took a break from NaNoWriMo to watch the two-hour season finale of Versailles. (Well, I think J never stopped typing, and I wrote during commercials, so not a complete break. And I need to get back to it again soon, so like a side trip to a famous location, this is going to be sadly incomplete and miss a lot of good stuff.) The show focuses on the young Louis XIV as he begins to expand the family’s old hunting lodge into the palace we all know today. Louis is played by the wonderful George Blagden, who we both still miss horribly as Athelstan on Vikings, and it’s just about one of the prettiest shows on TV. The costumes, sets, and cast are all supremely lovely to look at it.

And none more so than the King’s brother, Philippe, Duke of Orleans, aka Monsieur. Played by Alexander Vlahos, Philippe is one of my favorite kinds of characters, a perpetually angry, wounded animal, lashing out at everyone around him. However, the show pushes the boundaries of how far a character can lash out and still be sympathetic. Not to give away spoilers, but the way he treats his wife in the first episode of the season and the last are so different that I’m not sure it’s so much a character arc as inconsistent writing. Since I firmly believe most shows should get a pass on questionable decisions made in the first few episodes while they are finding their legs, and I prefer Philippe in the finale to the Philippe of the pilot, I’m basically indulging in some willful forgetting in order to enjoy the show more.

Because it really did take the show about four episodes to find a rhythm with the characters, narrative, and editing. And once it did, I enjoyed the show more and more, and I’m very excited about where Season 1 left off. When we will get Season 2 in America is anyone’s guess. (Actually, it may have already been announced and I missed it, because I’ve been avoiding a lot of news about the show until I saw the season finale.) Season 1 aired in Europe about a year ago now, but only made it to Ovation here in the US in October, but perhaps, now that the show has a US distributor, Ovation will show it closer to the European air dates? I hope?

Anyhow, for anyone interested, Ovation will be having a marathon of all 10 episodes Thanksgiving weekend. I’d love for folks to check it out and come chat with me about Philippe and what a viewer can forgive and forget in both characters and writers. He’s an intriguing and complex character. Perhaps in between seasons I’ll have to try my hand at fanfic and see if that helps me figure him out.




Unicorning: an Update


Old-school Unicorning.

This is mid-November, so you can’t actually expect that we’re going to write anything lengthy or thoughtful for our blog, can you?  No, of course not.

I’ve finished my first novel, A Tincture of Silver, and I think it turned out pretty well.  It’s interesting how, no matter how much you prepare for a book, you still discover more when you actually go to write it.  For example, I thought I knew one of my characters pretty well, but at the end of Chapter 9, she had to write a farewell letter to someone she had tricked.  The tone of it started pretty pleasant, actually, but then, at the end, I had the idea to add a nasty little burn as a postscript.  And suddenly I found I understood her a lot better.  What sort of person is she?  Well, she’s the sort of person who would write something like that, just to rub it in.

For the past few days, I’ve been doing character prompts for my second novel, When Uppance Comes.  It’ll be more of a comedy than the first one, I’m hoping.  It’s a sequel of sorts to both A Meager Education and Joint Command.  Here’s the summary of it I just wrote for my novel page on the NaNoWriMo website:

Selfish, conniving, and beautiful, Lisette comes to the royal court, determined to take her rightful place in society.  She schemes to win a place accompanying the queen on a vital diplomatic mission, but she’ll have to win the trust of the army officer vetting the candidates, who unfortunately is her old school roommate, and who knows Lisette all too well.  Meanwhile, an enemy spy infiltrates the court, thanks to the wandering eye of Lisette’s wayward husband.  They can’t all get what they want, but they might get exactly what they deserve.

S is doing very well, too.  She came into this weekend thinking she was about 6,000 words behind, but she’s going to finish ahead.  That’s pretty impressive, I think.  So huzzah for S!


Time Management


Did you remember to set your clocks back? (The astronomical clock in Prague. Our picture.)

I was all excited when I started NaNoWriMo this year with how together I was. I used October to not only to do my outline and research, but I finished up a couple of other writing projects so they wouldn’t be looming over my head all month. Next year, though, could someone please remind me that I need to write a couple of blog posts in October as well? There’s nothing like being behind on your NaNo novel and waking up in a cold sweat because it’s also your day to blog.

But, I did get an extra hour this morning, because I forgot to set the clocks back, so I can ramble at you all for a few minutes about what’s currently bothering me with my NaNo novel, which I titled The Swift True Road. (It’s a line from Petrarch, which suits my well-read Renaissance characters.) The characters and some of the incidents are based on a fanfic I wrote, and I just hit one of the scenes that I figured I could use from my fanfic. Obviously, I always knew I would need to make some changes, because they aren’t the exact same characters, and I was changing the POV of the scene. But when I started to write it yesterday, I realized I had a problem.

I wrote the scene better the first time.

There was a reason I chose the POV I did in the fanfic. And the setup there was so much easier, because I didn’t have to explain who the characters were or why they would be interested in one another. A lovely friend on Twitter tried valiantly to talk me through my despair last night, as did J, and I think what they helped me see is that my instincts were right when I planned this chapter—this is the story I need to tell and this is the POV I need to tell it from. I need to figure out how to make it work.

So, today, I’m going to push my way through this chapter, no matter what. It may suck, but that’s a problem for December me.