Change of Plans
by Addison Albright
I’m sorry I’ve been absent for so long…my inner mole has reclaimed it’s rightful place of late, with nary a molehill to my name for so much as a change of scenery.
However, some plans, no matter how cunning they might be, are well worth changing up. At least for long nuff to share A Plan far too perfect to keep to y’self…
Please welcome my very special guest Addison Albright to celebrate the release of her new novel: Change of Plans. The final part of the fabulous Plans trilogy…
Addison Albright has a true gift for storytelling. No matter whether we are castaway on a desert island or whisked to a world realms away from this, it is a place with characters who feel as real as their stories are resonant.
I’ve written a review below, but first; Addison has been kind nuff to pen a guest post for your reading pleasure so, without further ado…
Thank you so much, Zakarrie, for having me here on your fantabulous blog today! Hello, Zakarrie’s wonderful readers! I’ve got a new release out—my first in over a year—and I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about my story.
First of all, I should point out that this story completes a trilogy. I carefully inserted enough background information so that a random reader picking it up would not be completely lost, so the story can possibly stand alone, but it is not written as a standalone, and I strongly recommend reading books 1 & 2 first to best appreciate book 3.
Addison’s Evolution from “Pantsing” to “Plantsing”
I’ve tried planning or plotting out my stories in advance, but I just can’t do it. At least I can’t do it to the extent that would make a true planner’s chest expand with pride at a job well done. That said, I have evolved a bit from being a true seat-of-my-pants writer to now being more of a hybrid…a plantser if you will. Writing a time travel novel with a twisty timeline will do that to even the most determined pantser!
The first book in my Plans trilogy is a shorter story—barely novelette length—that was originally intended as a standalone tame meet-cute where Marcelo, a naïve young prince in matriarchal Sheburat, is stunned to learn he’s been chosen as “The Contingency Plan” in a treaty between realms, and has become the last minute replacement for his recently deceased twin sister in a marriage to Efren, the crown prince of Sheburat’s former enemy, Zioneven.
The Contingency Plan was 100% written by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have the heart to turn it into a story about Marcelo rejecting his fate and running, so I had him accept his fate, logically reason his way through the pros or cons, and do the responsible thing that he felt would give him the best chance at a happy future. I also, at the time, didn’t have the heart to give Marcelo and Efren any difficult outside drama to deal with. So that’s what that story is…a feel-good shorty where we imagine our hero’s moving on into a loving, easy, and therefore not-story-worthy future.
Ah, but The Best-Laid Plans of mice and men, oft go awry. My original “plan” bought the dust when I later decided to continue their story in book 2, and Marcelo was abducted on the princes’ journey to Zioneven. And once again, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to happen next during many of that story’s scenes. I strongly believe, at least for me, that the story would have been much weaker if I hadn’t let it drive itself as it was being written. Details of what each character does affects decisions that are made to further the story. I wasn’t even entirely sure “whodunit” until I was more than halfway into the story.
Now for Change of Plans…OMG…I came up with the idea for the opening scene (M & E’s recent memories—including of each other—have been wiped), wrote it, loved it, and knew I had to come up with a story worthy of following that scene. I would define my process with this story more as the hybrid, “plantsing.”
I needed a fairly solid idea of the story’s direction before proceeding. I knew I couldn’t wipe Marcelo and Efren’s memories of each other without finding a way to make the new relationship even better, and I knew I couldn’t wipe Marcelo’s memories of his bravery in The Best-Laid Plans without giving him another opportunity to be heroic. And I knew I had to finalize whodunit (throughout the series) without any remaining ambiguity. All this for a book that I had no plan for when I wrote the preceding two stories, so whatever I came up with would have to be consistent with what was already published.
So yeah, I had some thinking to do. Yet, even after working out the basics, I still didn’t write down an actual outline; I prefer to organically feel out the story’s pacing as I write. Besides, I still hadn’t worked out precisely how the details of the general idea would flesh out, or what Marcelo’s new heroic deed would be. I had several scenarios in mind, but ultimately came up with something different when the time came.
Perhaps my process sounds confusing, but it’s what works best for me. We pantsers and plantsers would never get started if we were forced to write out a step-by-step plan and stick to it. Just as plotters would (I imagine) tremble at the thought of writing without a detailed story outline. It’s all good, and what makes the world go ’round.
(From Chapter 8)
Marcelo, present day
Why, oh why, with all that was going on, was Marcelo finding it so difficult to focus on anything other than Efren’s fingers as he manipulated his utensils? And Efren’s mouth as he opened it to take bites then slowly chew?
Deliberately slowly chew his food, if Marcelo wasn’t mistaken.
Had Marcelo been obvious in his observations? Were Efren’s actions in response to Marcelo’s interest? Or had Efren purposely drawn Marcelo’s attention in the first place?
Or was Marcelo reading too much into Efren’s simple movements?
Marcelo swallowed a bite of his own and told himself the reason he was so distracted was because the royal family had ceased to talk about the drama going on in the castle since it was their policy not to discuss politics at the table, and there was nothing more to do other than baselessly speculate until they gained more intelligence from the people out making inquiries anyway. Attending to the everyday chitchat between Rolland, Merewina, and Tristan as they attempted to maintain a sense of normalcy didn’t take too much concentration.
Sure, that was all it was. Marcelo’s newfound obsession with another man’s hands and eating process had nothing at all to do with memory flashes of Efren’s unshaven skin rasping tantalizingly around Marcelo’s mouth when they’d kissed in the not-dream. Marcelo stilled his hand that had started toward his mouth to rub a phantom tingle and suppressed a self-depreciating snort.
“You are each enamored with the other.” Once again, Erich’s words echoed through Marcelo’s mind, and despite everyone’s assurances that Marcelo had previously conducted himself in some kind of brave, heroic manner, regret churned in his belly that he hadn’t had the courage to open his eyes during that kiss.
Or better, to have tossed caution to the wind and embraced the moment…and Efren.
But to be fair to himself, not being able to ascertain how he’d come to be in a stranger’s arms in an unknown place was what had been so terrifying, rather than the situation itself. Surely thinking one had somehow lost their mind would be spine-chilling to most.
When Merewina’s ill-disguised snicker broke his reverie, Marcelo’s fork slipped from his fingers and landed with a clink that seemed unnaturally loud.
“Really, Efren,” she said, “it’s all I can do not to break all semblance of decorum to toss a sticky bun at you.”
“Do I want to know why?” The deepening lines around Efren’s eyes answered his own question. If Marcelo was reading his husband correctly, he already knew why, yet had no objection to hearing his sister’s explanation.
Marcelo turned his gaze to Merewina.
Her eyes narrowed at her brother. “You are utterly merciless.”
Efren’s eyes widened theatrically. “Me?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You are shameless, teasing poor Marcelo like that.”
Marcelo’s face warmed. Yet a thrill coursed through his veins. He’d been right about Efren’s actions, and just as Erich had said, this handsome and powerful man was also drawn to him.
Efren’s lips quirked into a smile that curled Marcelo’s toes. “Dear sister, I assure you”—he winked at Marcelo—“I’m detecting no displeasure from my lovely young husband.”
Marcelo’s cheeks had to be flaming red, they felt so hot, but he held Efren’s gaze, and his own lips twitched into a sheepish grin.
The Best Laid Plans picked up where Contingency Plan left off and swept you to its faraway kingdom with the warmth of a familiar friend.
It was an enthralling adventure that seemed far more realistic than many a more mundane tale. Characters who were relatable despite their lofty status, crafted with a depth that far exceeded its length. I adored Prince Marcelo, whose self-perceived flaws made him braver than he believed and as believable as he was beautifully written. Prince Efren is magnificent; a hero as compelling as he is charismatic. The Best-Laid Plans was the perfect follow up to The Contingency Plan; a thrill ride of derring-dos and developing love that delivered far more than a fairytale happy ever after. I loved it.
Change of Plans
Change of Plans is the final episode of the Plans trilogy; our last trip to Zioneven in hopes of sharing in the Happy Ever After our heroes have earned with Honours. What a delightful destination it was too.
The first novel may have centred primarily on the crown Princely shoulders of Efren; as broad and strong as his streak of decency and decorum. Every bit as debonair as his dashing good looks. But it is Prince Marcelo who proves himself a hero in the very real sense. Particularly to himself…the man who most doubted his ability to prove himself worth anything much. Let alone amount to much, much more than he believed himself capable of. Had been deemed capable of. For that is the crunch of the matter. From the moment he was born into the Matriarchal Monarchy that rules his homeland Sheburat, his insignificance has been so deeply instilled in his psyche as to seem intrinsic. Thus, he had lived down to everyone’s expectations.
So ingrained was his own sense of inferiority, he became inferior. An ineffectual man living a life defined by Limits.
Those he’d believed were his own; learned from the cradle and carried like the lead weights of self-fulfilling prophecy they were. Limited capabilities that limited the aspirations he’d never allowed himself.
…Until The Contingency Plan permitted Marcelo a life beyond the wildest dreams I doubt he’d ever entertained. For Marcelo proves himself to be the darkest of all horses. Braver, bolder, resourceful, resilient. Ingenious under immense pressure. Every bit as brilliant as he believes his new husband is. More worthy of Efren’s love than he’d deemed possible.
Marcelo always was, of course, unbeknownst to him. For his charms are as innate as they are irresistible. Invisible in the mirror. He’s adorable. Midway through the story there is a scene so utterly charming I found myself grinning like a loon with glee. It would be foul to…spoil it, so I’ll refrain from further puns. Suffice to say, it’s unmistakable. A smidge like love when it coshes your senses. Theirs is a love that feels ‘right’. As natural as the seasons. They flow together, as fluidly as summer follows spring. Organic. Meant to be.
Their story wastes no time on misread intentions or misunderstandings to cause ‘conflict’. It has life and death matters to attend to, escapes to enveigle…a realm to save from diabolical foes and their dastardly plots. A way of life to preserve, honour to uphold. Which brings us full circle…and our tale to an end far too right to feel manufactured. One that doesn’t seem ‘plotted’, it happens. As it should, as it was e’er meant to. As fitting as Efren and Marcelo are for one another. Theirs is a marriage that transcends convenience. A lot like their happy ever after.
Efren & Marcelo; together, forever. Happy sigh.
Once upon a time, two handsome young princes fell in love, faced down adversity, and lived happily-ever-after … until one romantic evening, they unwittingly ate a confection laced with a mind-wiping toxin.
Crown Prince Efren of Zioneven blindsided Prince Marcelo of Sheburat when he used The Contingency Plan embedded in a peace treaty to marry the naïve young prince. Now, Marcelo is shocked again when he awakens in an unfamiliar bed, in an unfamiliar land, in the arms of a stranger who’s taking such liberties!
Will that ignominious new beginning to their relationship doom their chances at rekindling their love? Or will Efren’s giddiness and the less formal surroundings of Zioneven propel them toward a more teasingly fun rapport?
Marcelo and Efren have forgotten more than their love. On their journey home to Zioneven, their Best-Laid Plans went awry when Marcelo was abducted. Now, neither remembers the unexpected strength of character and ingenuity Marcelo manifested to survive his harrowing ordeal, or Efren’s frantic search for his new husband.
Were Marcelo and Efren specifically targeted for the Forget-Me-Not poisoning, or were they the victims of a random assault? Is this new attack related to Marcelo’s abduction and his sister’s death? Will Marcelo revert to his old mild-mannered, unassuming self, or will he step up to prove he’s the same brave man his new family claims he is amid the fresh danger swirling around them?
A death that wasn’t what it seemed … A kidnapping that isn’t what it seems … Time is running out.
The morning after his wedding night, Prince Marcelo thought he’d be embarking on a journey to his own personal fairytale happily ever after with his husband Efren, the crown prince of Zioneven. But when news arrives indicating his sister’s death wasn’t as accidental as previously thought, that journey becomes fraught with danger.
Enmeshed in political intrigue, death, and a kidnapping that might not be what it seems, will Efren untangle the web of misleading clues in time to save the naïve young man he’s already come to admire? Or will Marcelo dig deep to discover a previously untapped inner strength and determination to facilitate his own survival?
A sheltered prince. A sudden death. An unexpected choice. How will Prince Marcelo react to discovering he’s The Contingency Plan?
For eighteen years, there has been peace between Sheburat and the kingdom of Zioneven. The untimely death of a princess throws the marriage arrangement—the final phase to complete the terms of the treaty—into disarray, and the contingency plan is put into motion. Now the Crown Prince of Zioneven gets to make his own choice from among the princess’s younger siblings.
As a rare royal son in the matriarchal sovereignty of Sheburat, Prince Marcelo grew up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period. Except, Prince Efren isn’t from Sheburat, and he has other plans
Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay romance in contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction genres. She generally adds a subtle touch of humor, a dash of drama/angst, and a sprinkle of slice-of-life to her stories. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, French fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.