November Bucket List

November cheer!! :) How has everyone’s autumn been going?

I’ve had quite a successful season so far… and overall I’m a happy, blessed person right now. But also inwardly crying because yesterday was the last of October.

We’ve been to a bonfire and an apple barn and eaten cider doughnuts and stargazed (not technically with a telescope, just… lowkey). All fabulous goals, and checks off the list. But we have November and part of December still to go. Here’s my small bucket list of remaining goals for the remainder of autumn.

 

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I’m not officially participating in NaNoWriMo this year (um, again), but I’m going to set slightly more intense goals for myself and CRACK DOWN on the WIP (with God’s help) (and a lot of coffee and cider and other toasty creativity-fueling drinks). Insane amounts of writing. Like I needed more stress in my life right now hahahah. Also just realized that this paragraph is nothing but parentheses.

My daily word goal just in case you’re wondering:

Starting today, I’m gonna say about 800 – 1,000 words per day. So that I can fail miserably and disappoint myself. I am also completely unprepared and panicking.

 

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to find myself a snuggly, big-knit sweater. It’s a perfect goal for this time of year. There are many reasons.

  • cozy to curl up in
  • a fantastic place to hibernate
  • they’re a well-known bookworm thing
  • they can be found in delicious colors like cream and coffee and heather
  • you can slap people with the floppy sleeves

All the good reasons.

 

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Um this is kind of a classic. And something of a given, yes. One of the best things about autumn is flopping in a huge, crackling pile of brittle, crimson-stained leaves. We all agree on that one. But it’s a little trickier for me because we don’t get a ton of fallen leaves in our yard… pines and magnolias seriously spoil the fun. I just need to go borrow a neighbor’s yard and leaf pile, I guess.

 

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Alll the candles. There’s nothing that says seasonal like a pumpkin spice candle burning. Or another scent, for those of us who are not pumpkin spice appreciators. I personally go back and forth. Does burning a candle put anyone else in a motivated, cleaning mood? For some reason it does me.

 

 

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Or through a convenient park. I still have not done this. (?!) I’ve been meaning to – what better chance to do a family photo shoot? Why don’t I have time for anything in my life? There’s just something about taking walks this time of year. The temperature. The crisp, musty scent. The susseration of the deadened leaves still clinging to their trees (just discovered that word last year and it’s been one of my favorites since). It’s a thing that needs to happen.

 

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So apparently I’ve only done this one other time in my life?? Plus I can’t remember because I think I was eight years old at the time. I’ve never tried my hand at it again, though I’ve been wanting to. Because I mean. Cinnamon rolls are the most amazing thing. Making them yourself sounds like happiness (though my experience will more likely be along the lines of painful efforts, messy countertops, spilled cinnamon, and questionable results. but let’s not be realistic here). If anyone has an amazing recipe or link to a recipe you’d like to share, please do. It would make my day (and my cinnamon rolls, haha). Really bad joke, sorry.

 

 

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Hahaha. Ha. That’s as far as I’m gonna take this one. Some people set the goal of taking early morning autumn walks… every morning… which in theory sounds like poetry and refreshingly frosty morning air, but in reality is a whole lot more like bleary sleep eyes and misery and hypothermia.

 

 

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And of course go tromping in them. I love the way these look – like, they’d be excellent for nut foraging. Leaf collecting. Apple picking. Many things. They’re boots that look made for adventure. And they’re stylish, too. :)

 

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We’re not planning on making it to a pumpkin patch this year, which is sad, yes. But the grocery stores have lovely pumpkins. It’s not the experience you’d get otherwise – yeah, choosing a pumpkin from a jumble of them in a cardboard box isn’t quite the same – but I still love the challenge of finding the perfect one. The really round, smooth one-and-only with no spots and a creamy skin.

 

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A very happy goal. Sparklers have become a well-known summer thing… people who skip 4th of July and save these things till autumn are cooler (another really, really bad joke. i’m so sorry). Imagine it – drawing sizzling designs on the air with clouded breath and chilled fingertips rather than with sweaty hands in the midst of a mosquito cloud. Sounds appealing, no?

 

Have a wonderful rest of the season, ya’ll.

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Is anyone else in shock that Thanksgiving is almost upon us? Comment below to chat (or if you have a cinnamon roll recipe to share XD). I’d love to hear from you.

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Of the Sea (a photography post)

Hello, all.

Today I smash the pleasant, almost-autumn theme I had going here. With pictures from our beach vacation. I was originally planning on posting September 30th (and getting all this belated beachiness hashed out before October), but that was the day we got back from the beach… the thought of sitting down to write a blog post brought nothing but stress.

So I ignored it, like I usually do my problems.

We accomplished much. We collected shells and waded in the sea and tracked in a ton of sand. We saw a hammerhead shark, which was beyond cool.

I found one flawless sand dollar. Which just does not happen to me.

But then none of us – and I mean none of us – got anything like a tan. We’re so white; at best we freckle and burn (those pesky Irish genes). Practically everyone I know has these attractive end-of-September suntans… and I’m like

 

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Enjoy. :)

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yes, I tried the dorky shells-along-the-arm thing. it came out surprisingly well.

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Have a wonderful October, ya’ll.

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Character Profiles: in which I basically bare my heart for you all

Greetings, fellow earthens.

And HAPPY SEPTEMBER!!!

Today I’m going to take on a dark, daunting post subject. I’m going to spill my heart and guts and share some of my creations with you. That is, introduce some of the main characters from my current WIP. Which is a terrifying prospect for me. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be traumatizing.

It’s also going to be really fun.

These lovelies are still undergoing MASSIVE changes… in the finished work they’re likely to look quite a bit different than they do now. But for the time being this is how far their personalities have evolved, and I can honestly say I’m *sniff* proud of them *wipes away tear*. They are some of my most precious characters. They’ve been through a lot with me. And as a result they’re all wrapped up in my heartstrings.

As a side note, I found these characteristic photos via Pinterest. They aren’t mine. I take no credit. The clothing (from what you can see) is all modern and wrong… but who cares. :P

Taryn

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the Protagonist

wind-flung brown hair / one blue eye and one hazel / nimble hands / pointed chin

   Taryn is a wanderer. A loner. An outcast. She has an independent streak she got from her father, and loves wild places. She’s perceptive and generally relates well to others’ emotions, but can also be pretty cynical of people, which comes of being treated the way she has her entire life (you won’t understand that but #spoilers). Insecurity is one of her many struggles. She hates sharing her feelings and has the tendency to push away her loved ones when she’s in pain; she’s also terrible at comforting others. Sarcastic wit comes easily for this one.

She loves the wind and the scent of freedom. Rock/hill climbing (she has the flat feet geared for it, and she’s proud of that). People who judge by anothers’ attributes and the way they treat others, not by appearances.

 

 

Ree

the Sidekick

freckled / blue-eyed / crooked limp / wide smile / small wrists and ankles

   Ree is homier than her sister. She’s empathetic and slightly more centered; is calmly optimistic and laughs a lot. Her limp (she was born with a minor deformity, one leg slightly shorter than the other) keeps her from doing a lot of things she’d like, but as a general rule she’s pretty philosophical about it. In arguments she’s likely to go on the defensive… but she doesn’t lose her temper much.

She loves murkbrew (their world’s kind of thicker version of hot tea) with honey. Rain. And the productive feeling of keeping busy – especially when she’s worried or stressed.

 

 

Matt

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the Logic/Voice of Reason

light brown-dark blond hair / grey eyes / medium-tall / a slight cowlick that irritates him

   Matt is a strong shoulder to lean on. A hard worker with calloused hands. He just might be my favorite character besides Taryn… because except for her he’s been the character to undergo the most changes, yet has remained his dependable, stubborn self through it all. He’s quick-witted. Diplomatic in most disagreements. But other times he can be blunt to the point of pain. He and Taryn are alike in that most of the time they’re relatively mild people, but both are fiercely protective of the people they’re close to.

He loves carving; bringing form and shape out of dead wood. His young siblings. And fried rabbit well-done.

 

Lisi

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the Emotional

blonde / pale blue eyes / small-proportioned and slim / an odd laugh

   Lisi is the soft-spoken one. Invariably gentle, ceaselessly compassionate. A little wistful. She’s quiet and unobtrusive in most things, and her cautious nature sometimes comes across as timid… but still waters run deep. She’s a lot stronger of a person than she seems at first sight. Despite having very few similarities at first, she and Taryn form a strong bond throughout the course of the novel.

She loves sunlight through the fog. Long walks along the dusty Village paths. Strong, beautiful personalities.

 

Maeve

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the Tempter

thick reddish hair / curvy / face mottled with freckles / dark brown eyes / vivid full lips

   Maeve is beautiful. Incendiary. Malicious. She loves deeply, hates with abandon, and is passionate in every emotion between. Her deepest aversions are to the deformed and those she sees as hideous or weak. Her hurts are remembered and she’s pretty darn vengeful, while we’re at it. She takes on hard labor grudgingly but well.

She loves good seasoned mutton and strong mead. The thrill of autumn in the blood. And followers who allow themselves to be dominated without question.

 

 

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Sooo. Those are my lovelies (that is, five of them). And that wasn’t so bad. The others are still in slightly earlier stages of development. The Antagonist, the Mentor, the Skeptic, and lotsa other extras who kind of came out of nowhere and (in the course of headaches, blood and tears) have grown into beloved characters. I might share a bit about them some other time. :)

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Thanks for reading! Can you believe it’s the 1st of September, and are you excited for autumn?? Chat with me in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Horrendous Books I Wrote as a Child: and what I learned from them

How is everyone’s summer coming along? I for one am super excited about it being August already, because the end of the summer means autumn is coming.

*dances happily*

Anyway. Down to business. I’m going to tackle another tag today… the 5 Horrendous Books tag. I almost feel like I’m not qualified, since I am famous worldwide for not finishing stories. Seriously. My desk drawers are packed with unfinished ideas and scraps, and I’ve finished a total of… three stories. In my life.

THREE.

Which is mostly due to the fact that, in my writing experience so far, I’ve been devoting myself almost entirely to two main ideas. The two that are actually good and I really, really want to write. The more recently-born of these is the novel I’m working on right now. The other is a sort of epic fantasy creation about heroes in a land called Bayan (don’t quote me here. the name will more than likely be changed). That one’s dear to my heart because it first originated when I was about twelve and has gone through a lot. It’s currently on the backburner; maybe I’ll get around to it one day.

Shall we proceed.

I present my most horrendous of story ideas, what I’ve (maybe) learned from each one, and hope you enjoy.

 

Nora

This one was one of my first “book” attempts; a cute, boring little narrative about a family of multifarious orphans. They live their lives in a ramshackle house and… never do much of anything. I mean literally nothing happens. Butttt I started this one when I was eight, when I’d never even heard of plot. So. The kids (including flat protagonist Nora) take turns watching the baby, mop floors, and do what good little orphan children do; they have a few dull conversations and live happily ever after.

(maybe that’s why i never got any farther than a few pages with this one. maybe)

  • Lots of clichéd (and kind of strange??) character descriptions.
  • ADVERBS. OH, THE ADVERBS.
  • There was a lot of pea shelling. In my eight-year-old imagination it was the most interesting of farmhouse mundane tasks. Thus, much pea-shelling.
  • Written-out southwestern country accents. Please help.
  • I could not devise a more original surname than Kettle.
  • Yes. The Kettle kids.
  • #cringe

 

What I Learned:

I LOVE writing large families and sibling relationships.

 

Out of Bondage

This one is (surprise!) an Israelites’-flight-from-Egypt retelling. It features a girl named Hannah and her seven siblings. I got a few pages into this one before inspiration flat-out ditched me and I got disgusted and trashed it all (pssst: it wasn’t much good anyhow).

  • There is boring backstory and a lot of information you never asked for. In heavy loads.
  • Once again, characters not doing much of anything.
  • Just going about their daily borings and major yawn.
  • This girl is kneading dough like she does every day, but for some reason I considered it necessary to emphasize the fact that she’s sweating and getting really tired. I mean I went into detail here.
  • A halfway decent descriptive paragraph of Egypt that I might actually use one day.
  • But most of the time I was very vague and clueless.

 

What I Learned:

Research is essential in historical fiction.

 

The Most Beautiful Kitten

Agh, the title. Prepare yourself. This was one of my (ahem) several attempts at writing my own fairytale. Our protagonist is Yet Another Tiresome Princess, the predictable type who is clichéd and adored and lives her happy little life in clover… till her parents, the king and queen drop the MARRIAGE BOMB and squash her flat.

She will of course only marry the #1 And Only who can bring her what she most desires. And with this damsel (who actually happens to be nameless, i just realized that), it’s a kitten. The most beautiful kitten in the kingdom, if you please.

  • We have a lot of knights, princes, dukes, earls, and other sundry nobles. All bearing kittens.
  • Lengthy cat descriptions you do not want to hear about. I was new to the descriptive-similes world, okay?
  • Rejected cats and disgruntled nobles.
  • Disgruntled king and queen.
  • You see it coming, right?
  • Yes. A humble shepherd.
  • Yes, his kitten is the most beautiful of them all. Idk where he got this fantastical cat, or where he comes from, or anything. Nothing is explained.
  • They live happily ever after.
  • Please forgive me, I was ten.

 

What I Learned:

Ummm. NEVER try writing fairytales again? Ever.

 

The Snowstorm

This one was supposed to be something of a romance. But I started to write it at thirteen, so that tells you a lot. Let’s just say at thirteen I was not an expert on romance. It’s about Meredith, an eighteen-year-old with a really bad case on her childhood friend, Daniel. AN EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD WHAT WAS I THINKING.

The Binghams and Wilsons (the two respective families) get snowed in together in a blizzard. Meredith’s pregnant sister Nell (who happens to be married to Daniel’s brother), goes into labor.

  • No one can go for the midwife.
  • So of course Meredith, who is completely inexperienced, decides to be the hero. She hitches up her bootstraps and single-handedly delivers twins.
  • (???)
  • I have questions here.
  • The family connections are also really confusing. ??
  • We have a couple sappy paragraphs you really, really aren’t interested in. Trust me.
  • And viola her romance is also resolved.
  • Daniel is actually my favorite character; he’s a redheaded sarcastic firechild of awkwardness and hilarity.
  • But Meredith :P

 

What I Learned: 

I absolutely love writing laughable rogue-type love interests

 

Rebecca

Another story named for its heroine. She is a young woman in a little town who goes through a lot of hardship (i really don’t know why). The general premise of the story: A few good things happen. There’s some inane romance. Lots of bad things happen. People die. Some good things happen. The end.

It starts when she falls in love with a dashing guy named Edgar (once again I was thirteen years old whhhyyyy).

  • We have mush and absurdity and confusing plot points.
  • Edgar dies.
  • Rebecca’s father dies.
  • She eventually marries Edgar’s brother John, a widower with five kids (i can’t remember for what reasons, exactly. i think she’s poor and needs support).
  • John is two-dimensional and tasteless to the extreme. #writingskillz
  • He dies.
  • One of his daughters dies.
  • Die, die, die.
  • Rebecca is left with the four children and has no one in the wide world.
  • She finds an advertisement in the paper written by a man out west named Matthew (i don’t think he has a last name). He’s looking for a wife and housekeeper.
  • And this WAS NOT written in the midst of my mad pioneer-era craze. Heh. Why do you ask?
  • Rebecca travels west, she and Matthew meet and fall in love, get married and live happily after, etc, etc.

 

What I Learned:

My romance needs a lot of work. My deaths need a lot of work. My writing needs a lot of work.

 

 

I tag Sydney at The Elliot Countenance; have fun with this! :)

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Have you written trash as bad as this in your time? Tell me you cringed reading my fairytale attempt (i was almost too embarrassed to include that one). Comment below!

 

The Interrogation Tag

New blog theme!! *applause*

How was everyone’s month? June was a WONDERFUL month for me. Friends, scribblings, lots of coffee… some amateur photography attempts…

Anyway. I was tagged by Emma at Real and Official Matters, a happy little blog that’s just taking off. Thanks for the tag, friend!

I present The Interrogation Tag.

 

Get To Know Me:

1. What are 3-5 little known facts about yourself?

  • I really, REALLY want a wolf. Like, for a companion. And it would be the coolest thing EVER if we could talk to each other. So basically a telepathic, weirdly intelligent wolf friend (don’t tell my dog I said any of this).
  • I’m still adjusting to being a young adult and acting like one… often I’m caught breaking into spontaneous running or jumping.
  • I LOVE singing, but I’m not a fan of my singing voice. So if you get to hear me singing I like/trust you REALLY well… or else I didn’t know you were standing there.

2. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

Oh my. Probably either England or Australia. The accents both places are great, and the Australian animals are really cool. Also, English food. Can’t forget the English food. It’s a toss-up.

3. What are your favorite and least favorite foods?

Ugh, this is hard. Because I’m kind of crazy about most food… I guess five basic foods I really love would be:

  • All things potato. Baked, mashed, boiled, fried. They’re the best.
  • Pizza!!!
  • Cheesecake. Just. Cheesecake.
  • Strawberries (thanks to an obscure allergy I have, they’re – for some inexplicable reason – one of the only two raw fruits I’m able to eat. love these loyal guys).
  • I’m also an insane fan of my mom’s macaroni and cheese
  • You can tell I’m all about the healthy foods, right??

Three basic foods I detest:

  • Blueberry pie/cobbler (i know that is the weirdest thing ever. i give no explanations or excuses).
  • Pork. Ugh.
  • And coleslaw is beyond disgusting.

4.What are some of your hobbies?

Well, I guess writing doesn’t count since I’d like to consider that more of a lifework than a hobby. I enjoy reading, occasional baking, photography, the infrequent arranging of flowers, and Pinterest (yes, pinterest totally counts as a hobby).

5. Tea or Coffee?

COFFEE! Swirled with hazelnut creamer, sometimes cinnamon. But (for the benefit of you outraged tea-lovers out there) several teas I’ve tried have been amazing as well.

 

Bookish Questions:

1. Do you like books or movies better? 

Definitely books, but movies are wonderful as well. Especially movies based on my favorite books. So long as they don’t butcher the storyline too brutally, that is. The 2006 version of Jane Eyre did a pretty great job of adhering to the story… it’s one of my favorite movies.

2. What is your favorite genre to read?

I enjoy a lot of speculative fiction subgenres… fantasy and dystopian, that kind of thing. Ooh, and historical fiction.

3. What are some of your favorite books? 

Ohhh, I have an overwhelming number of favorites. But these are some I never get tired of, in all the times I re-read them:

  • Jane Eyre
  • Ella Enchanted
  • Rilla of Ingleside
  • Magic for Marigold (i first read that one when i was about ten, and have loved it wildly ever since)
  • Little Women
  • Persuasion
  • The Hobbit

And there are so many, many more.

4. A fictional character (or maybe 3) you’d like to be friends with?

Okay. Sorry folks, but I am going to have to make this five. Rilla, from Rilla of Ingleside. Dashti, from Book of a Thousand Days. Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels. Maude, from The Misadventures of Maude March. And Ella, from Ella Enchanted.

5. Prettiest book cover that you own.

Probably L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. The font and cover illustration are lovely.

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Writing Questions:

1. What is your favorite writing snack? 

Umm, I’ll eat ANYTHING when I’m hungry and writing.

2. When did you start writing?

At about six or seven. For the first few years of this I thought I wanted to be a poet, and I still have notebooks filled with my less-than-extraordinary efforts. There were a few that I’ve saved fondly, but I’m DEFINITELY more prose-inclined now.

3.Why do you write?

Ummm. (What am I supposed to say here?) I guess just overall to glorify the Lord, and because I love it. LOVE it. There, that wasn’t so bad. XD

4. What is your favorite genre to write?

I like trying my hand at a lot of styles and genres, but my favorite is probably fantasy. The research is so easy in comparison to historical fiction and other real-world genres. There’s some research that has to be done, but when you’re really and truly not sure about something you can just MAKE IT UP.

And the tag goes to Zane, who helped create these questions and I can tell is going to have a really good time with this. :D

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How was June for you? If you’d like to take this tag and do it yourself, feel free (also comment below to make my day fantabulous).

 

 

 

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder and Scarlet

Good afternoon, all! Blogging’s back on track.

Today’s book review is a double feature: The Lunar Chronicles, books #1 and #2.

 

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Cinder, #1 of The Lunar Chronicles

   “Even in the future, the story begins with Once Upon a Time…

   Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…

   Sixteen-year-old Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past and is reviled by her stepmother. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalectic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. Because there is something unusual about Cinder, something others would kill for.”

   This was an amazing retelling of the beloved fairytale. It was so cool to see how Meyer took events and people and twisted it all into something new. The writing was beautiful. The world was beautiful. The characters were beautiful. I was highly impressed. Here are some things I liked.

   First of all, Cinder. She is an amazing character. I just love everything about her. Her personality, her complexity, her sarcasm. All this good stuff is squashed into a lovable character with strengths and weaknesses and… realness.

   Secondly: The retelling. It was awesome. So creative. Adri was an excellent evil stepmother, just maddening enough that you’re gnashing your teeth but can’t stop reading. And Pearl… Heh heh. I guess she was really well done, since most of her part in the story was me wanting Cinder to throw a wrench at her head. I also thought it was neat how the ball worked in with everything else, and that rather than the traditional shoe flying off in Cinderella’s escape, it was in fact her metal foot.

   Okay. And can I just say… Iko. She is THE BEST. Her obsession with girly things and her hilarious attitude made her pop right out of the book to me. Cinder aside, she’s my favorite character.

   A dislike: The villainy. I mean, y’know, I was supposed to dislike the villainy. Queen Levana was very nicely (or nastily) done. But what I got so tired of was all the bribing and conditions and diplomacy and sloooowness. So annoying. I wanted ACTION.

   Oh, and then of course I also have to criticize the actual action. I’m not really this hard to please, trust me. The whole part where (SPOILER) Cinder grabs the gun and fires at Queen Levana was confusing. Maybe it’s just me. I’m kinda slow.

This book’s rating: 4.5 stars

(I really, really liked it!)

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Scarlet, #2 of The Lunar Chronicles

   “Even in the future, beware of the big, bad wolf…

  Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She is trying to break out of prison – even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

   Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter, who may have information about her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.”

   There were many things I liked about this one, but also quite a few I didn’t.

   The first problem: Scarlet Benoit was not my favorite character. I didn’t hate her, she just had some annoying qualities. Her tendency to be something of a manipulative flirt reared its ugly head several times throughout the book. She’s hot-tempered and stubborn, which was sometimes endearing and sometimes just exasperating. And then she’s impulsive. So darn impulsive. All in all, I have to admit I like Cinder as a character much better. But Scar did have her good points. And she’ll do anything, absolutely anything for her loved ones.

   Another problem: (SLIGHT SPOILER) The whole brainwashed-savage-wolf-men thing. Running wild though the streets and killing people. Creepy, much? There weren’t many graphic descriptions, but I just felt kind of ugh about the whole concept.

   Problem number three: (SPOILERS) When Wolf kills Ran. I didn’t like that at all. I get that this guy needed to be killed off by somebody. I wouldn’t have even minded so much that it was Wolf. But it was the way he went savage and killed him, IN A SOMEWHAT GRAPHICALLY UNPLEASANT WAY. It threw me off, because hasn’t Wolf been fighting against this, the inner animal? It was almost like a break in his character arc.

Anyway, here are some things I did like.

   The well-done characters. Oh my. While I’ve poked holes in Scarlet and been disappointed by Wolf, they – all the characters – were undeniably three-dimensional and real. And don’t get me wrong, I liked Wolf. He was a darling character, so fiercely protective yet so sweetly shy and a little inept. And Thorne. He made me laugh with his witticisms and ridiculous bravado.

   Another like: Scarlet and Wolf’s romance. (FOR THE MOST PART.) There were a couple things about their relationship I didn’t like. But the way it grew throughout the course of the story was sweet. And I did think they went well together.

This book’s rating: three stars

(I would rate this one two and a half stars, but the writing and characters really were beautiful. And I’m in a nice mood.)

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Tell me your opinion! What did you think of Cinder and Scarlet? Do you agree with my criticism/ramblings? Is there anything significant you disagree with? I’d love to hear from you!

Happenings: a life update

Hello everyone, this is just a brief mini-post. Happy 4th of May! I’ve been taking something of a break anyway, but here’s the official announcement: I’m taking an unofficial break from blogging for the rest of this month. Now, let’s just pretend I’ve done a consistent job of posting lately, and deserve this vacation. XD

And here’s a small update.

April was an overall fantastic month for us. There was one bad day we thought our puppy got out the fence… cue a lot of ensuing panic. We ran around the neighborhood calling her for half an hour only to find when we got back that she was STILL IN THE YARD. Of course, by that time I was already in a state of completely exhausted stress. Good times.

Homeschool’s been going as well as it usually does… though we’re not taking a summer break since we’ve taken so many other small breaks this year. :( (It tends to wind up better that way, though – after a longish break I typically find I’ve forgotten everything.)

My writing for the past month or two has consisted mostly of pulling my hair out – and drinking coffee while staring into space. I’ve cranked out a little bit of plot/outline ramblings, but it isn’t much.

Books I’ve been reading:

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Only six for April. [Insert plausible excuse other than the same old “I’ve been busy” here.] And, of course, The False Prince and Book of a Thousand Days technically might not even count, since they’re re-reads. Oh well. Westmark and Halt’s Peril were both great, and I’m currently reading The Emperor of Nihon-Ja. But then The Frog Princess was just… ew. I had my doubts when I came across it (the kinda cheesy girly-pink cover, ya know?)… and, yeah. Was not at all impressed. As a side note, it also happens to be the book Disney’s The Princess and the Frog was [loosely] based upon.

Anyhow, new things to come! In future I’ll be implementing a heading picture for each new post –  in hopes that it will really boost the attractiveness of my little blog. :) And real efforts will be made to post more constructive (and just… more, period) writing posts. Not saying they’ll be more frequent… we’ll have to wait and see.

I’ll be looking forward to June. Till then!

Yes, that sounded a lot cheesier than it did in my head.

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What books have you been reading? Did April go well for everyone else? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Blogger Book Tag

I have not made posting a priority… and see where that leaves us.

Anyway. I was tagged a couple weeks ago by Zane over at Simple Impossibilities, a fabulous little nook of the internet. Thanks, Zane! This is going to be fun.

1. Name a book you’re embarrassed you haven’t read.

Sense and Sensibility. Which I have started. But I got… 1/4 through?… And I have not picked it up in months.

2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?

I’m thinking probably an oven mitt. I was reading in the kitchen, and it was right on hand. ;D I have also used pens, rulers, other books… I kind of take the cake for strange bookmarks.

3. Look at your bookshelf. What is the first yellow-spined book you see?

The Moorchild, by Eloise McGraw. This book is good. The mood to the whole story is great, sort of primitive medieval fantasy with a Celtic-like twist.

4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?

This question IS cheating. Possibly Henry Winterfeld. I know of only four books by him, three of which I read when I was about eleven. They were all really funny and enjoyable.

5. Name an author who deserves more readership.

L. M. Montgomery. Her books and stories are all wonderful!! Especially the Anne of Green Gables series (there are eight fantastic books in all).

6. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Random piece of paper. Always.

7. Can you stop anywhere in a book, or do you have to finish the chapter?

I prefer not to stop till the chapter’s finished, but I’ve been forced to grow used to slapping a book down in the middle with how swamped by responsibilities I tend to be…

8. One book at a time OR several?

Neither. Usually LOTS.

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

*blushes* Oh, yes. If there’s an especially boring scene I’ll flip a page or two.

10. Breaking the spine, or keeping it like new?

As if!! Like new, always.

11. What books do you regret reading?

The Princess Diaries. Last year I read the first one and it completely turned me off. There was, first and foremost, the whole public-school high school vibe to it: (“Above all let me be popular, or else I die”), which annoyed me. Also there was something highly inappropriate implied in one scene, and one or two inappropriate conversations. Overall I got the impression that the author could have done a WAY better job. I don’t recommend it at all.

12. On average, how many books do you read per year?

Probably 100-150. This might be way off; it’s just an estimate. And I’ve never been good with estimations. It really depends on the year. I also re-read favorite books a LOT, so are we counting those?

13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. READ THIS. <3

14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?

Phew. I have learned so many countless lessons and have so benefited and grown from so many books it’s hard for me to select the biggest. I invoke made-up rule #604: I’m allowed to skip one question.

(Yes. Yes, that was totally cheating.)

15. What’s the most recent book you’ve read?

The Betrayal, by Douglas Bond.

16. Name a book quote you’ll never forget.

I must include two, at the very least.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

-Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Sometimes people are beautiful not in looks, not in what they say, just in what they are.

-Markus Zusak

(This is from his book I am the Messenger, which I have not read. I just love the quote.)

17. How many books do you own?

I’d say somewhere around 350-400.

18. In the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?

Seriously?! Agh! This year isn’t even very far along! Well, so far I would have to say The Dragon’s Tooth, #1 of The Ashtown Burials. :D I think.

And then I am going to go above and beyond lazy with the whole tagging-thing. I hereby tag whoever is reading this. There. Glad that’s over.

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What are your favorite book quotes? Literary regrets? And has anyone else EVER used an oven mitt as a bookmark. Please tell me I’m not alone. I’d love to hear from you!

 

A Load of Books

  This past weekend we made a trip to the library (always thrilling) and I thought I’d share some of the books I brought home. With commentary and ramblings on each. Of course. *beams* Your lives made much better. 

 

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The Chestnut King, by N.D. Wilson. I’m super excited about this one. I have a bad habit of getting really thrilled about my library books and going crazy and starting them all at the same time… so I think I’m about two chapters into this one as well as in the middle of several others. :P

 

 

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 Paper Things, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Can’t say I was over-the-top impressed with this one. It’s just that there was this floatiness (is that a word?) that honestly reminded me of Everything on a Waffle. I will forever mentally pair the two. Not that the protagonists in both books don’t experience emotion. But as a reader you need to be plunged violently into the main character’s sticky problems and feel their emotion and their pain. Didn’t happen for me. To be quite frank, I got kinda bored. But I did love Gage. He was a fantastic character.

 

 

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 The Midwife’s Apprentice, by Karen Cushman. An old favorite. This isn’t the exact copy I have, but it’s somewhat prettier. This is a book about a little nameless nobody who becomes apprentice to a midwife (pretty obviously, from the title). It’s no sweet, dreamy story, however. It’s a bit gritty and realistic. And funny. Even in the midst of protagonist (called Beetle’s) troubles, Karen Cushman’s roguish sense of humor makes for an entertaining read.

 

 

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 Be Light Like a Bird, by Monika Schroeder. I’ve read only a few chapters of this one, so no judgement or recommendations yet. Stay tuned! *winks* The cover and font are so cute, though!! Fine, I admit it. I am really, really attracted to a book by its cover.

 

 

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 The Dragon’s Tooth, by N.D. Wilson. About halfway through this one, and I’m actually liking it better than the 100 Cupboards series so far (or at least the 2/3 of the 100 Cupboards series I’ve read). I think it’s that I’m drawn more to Cyrus’ personality than I have been to Henry’s. Which is weird, because Cy is kind of impetuous and sarcastic. Me, impetuous? No. Me, sarcastic? Hmm.

 

 

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 The Kings of Clonmel, by John Flanagan. Yayyy!! Book #8 of The Ranger’s Apprentice! Haven’t gotten around to this one yet, but I’m looking forward to it. When I first started reading this series something inexplicable about the author’s writing style threw me off… I can’t remember what bothered me. I really enjoy his books now, they just took some getting used to.

 

I took out twelve books in all. Among those not mentioned were:

  • The Book Thief (and you really don’t want me enthusing about that one again)
  • Two books I was VERY unimpressed by… which shall remain nameless. >:D
  • Three for writing research. One book of historical costumes, and two… *sighs* all about goats. Don’t ask.

 

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What are your opinions on some of these books? (What I really want to know is, did anyone else get the same frustration for Everything on a Waffle, or was it just me?) I’d love to hear from you!

 

Book Review: Eve in Exile

Today’s review is on a book I just finished and forgot to mention on my list of recent reads. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; that post was long enough already…

 

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Eve in Exile, and the Restoration of Femininity

“Being a woman is in many ways like being in the field of applied mathematics – except that it’s applied theology and applied philosophy.” -Eve in Exile

  “The swooning ladies of the Victorian Age and the suburban housewives of the 1950s genuinely needed to be liberated. That much is indisputable. So, First-Wave feminists held rallies for womens’ suffrage. Then, Second-Wave feminists marched for Prohibition, jobs, and abortion. Today, Third-Wave feminists stand firmly for nobody’s quite sure what. But the modern woman – who uses psychotherapeutic drugs at a rate never before seen in history – needs liberating now more than ever. The truth is, feminists don’t know what liberation is. They have led us into a very boring dead end.

  Eve in Exile sets aside all stereotypes of mid-century housewives, of china-doll femininity, of Victorians fainting, of women not allowed to think for themselves or talk to the men about anything interesting or important. It dismisses the pencil-skirted and stiletto-heeled executives of TV, the outspoken feminists freed from all that hinders them, the brave career women in charge of their own destinies. Once those fictionalized stereotypes are out of the way – whether they’re things that make you gag or things you think look pretty fun – Christians can focus on real women. What did God make real women for?”

 

This was one of the most impressive books I’ve read in a long time. Rebekah Merkle weaves valid points and illustrations, scripture proofs, simple truths, and a tang of unexpected humor together into a phenomenal book that I recommend to any young woman, especially those of you confused and driven crazy by today’s Third-Wave feminists and their rebellion running rampant [as I am]. I felt that it was geared more towards mature/married women, but it’s an excellent read for teenage girls as well. I know I’ve benefited from it significantly.

Eve in Exile covers many subjects, from the origins of feminism to what’s wrong with what they’re fighting for (whatever that is), and above all, what women were created for and what we are to strive to be. The sweet eloquence is beautiful and impacting. *wipes away tear*

It’s a relatively easy read; I suspect that’s why I was so attracted to it from the first few pages on. All Christian theological books are very much worth reading, but some take more of an effort than others. I loved the effortless way my mind glided into reading and was immediately, “Whoa! This is fantastic!”

This book’s rating: Five stars!

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Thanks for reading! Have you read Eve in Exile? Did you love it as much as I do? I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

Wasted Time

Here I am, you see, already barely making the once-a-week thing. *sighs*

Recently I’ve been busy (and a little unmotivated, as well), so much so that I haven’t been getting what you’d call substantial amounts of writing done.

Amount of Writing I Scored Last Week:

….Maybe if you collected it all it would fill two pages. Maybe. More or slightly less. Heh.

It takes insane amounts of self-control (and motivation, of course) to write. To refrain from checking when emails come in. Or taking a “quick break” to look over your inspiration boards on Pinterest. You’ll end up realizing you’ve wasted an hour in no time at all. Well, actually in an hour.

So, how to improve [and use wisely] your writing time? Here are a few ways:

  • Let everyone know you’re having writing time and ask not to be disturbed. This will ensure peace and quiet. Now to utilize this peace and quiet.
  • NO social media. At all. None.
  • Set yourself a specific goal. Fifteen to twenty minutes is a good goal, and relatively easy to achieve. If you’re one of those phenomenal intensive writers, an hour or more. And the lower you set the bar, the easier it will be to transcend. *smirks conspiratorially*
  • Turn of message notifications so the temptation isn’t even a problem.
  • NO self-deprecation. Yes, your writing probably does stink. Get over it. Just push through your insecurities and WRITE YOUR GARBAGE.

“If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.” – Margaret Atwood

  • I would say “Don’t stop to edit, correct your spelling/grammar, or to search the thesaurus for the perfect word; just mark the spot and come back later.” But that would be hypocritical. :D
  • Have a snack on hand so you won’t have to get up when hunger strikes. Preferably something sweet. Like chocolate. Very much like chocolate.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Listen to inspiring music. I love listening to sad/moody/dark/beautiful pieces that fuel strong emotions and make me want to cry…. Yes. Weird. It improves my writing, okay?
  • No breaks. Unless under specified circumstances:
  1. The house is on fire
  2. Space aliens invade
  3. Your brain is about to EXPLODE

If scenarios #1 or #2 qualify, immediately flee the house. If you’re experiencing scenario #3, congratulations. You’ve gotten some good writing/brainstorming/plotting done. That’s why you’re in such pain. Or else you’ve been sitting staring blankly at the computer screen for so long there’s been a system fail.

There we are. Another list. (Have I mentioned I love lists? Especially bullet-pointed lists.) Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

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Thanks for reading! If there’s anything you’d suggest to make writing time more productive, comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Puzzle Pieces: fitting characters together

One more post this week. I’m on a roll. ;)

This post is going to be about writing. And I am slightly terrified to impart any kind of advice to anybody, as the magnitude of my own inexperience is…well, big. But here goes. (Maybe somebody will find this remotely helpful.)

One of a writer’s greatest challenges (at least in my case) is creating a strong bond between two characters. Whether it be love of the romantic sort, the admiration of an apprentice to his master, or the close affection of good friends, growing and developing a relationship between people is hard. Especially if the relationship starts out with a Princess Leia + Han Solo mindset…

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Here’s a list of questions I ask myself.

  1. One of the first signs that two characters are going to connect is usually a “click”. They have something in common. A common fear, a common desire, a common love. A common hobby. “Hey, you collect 1960s movie posters too?” Have your characters clicked through a shared interest or emotion?
  2. Does the hate/dislike/confusion/indifference they feel towards each other in the beginning blossom with head-scratching suddenness into warm endearment? Make sure you’ve maintained a smooth and consistent arc throughout the course of the story.
  3. Are you showing rather than telling? Body language, actions, speech, and thoughts should all be subtly used to communicate the growing bond.
  4. If there’s a lot of friction at first, keep it going even when they’ve fallen for each other. The closest of friendships still spark and sizzle at times. Are there enough disagreements to make the relationship realistic?
  5. Do your characters grow each other? A couple need to have interlocking personalities; fit together like puzzle pieces, each satisfying in the other what he/she is lacking. If Jen is quiet and shy, make Brad more outgoing. He’ll draw her out of herself and provide a stimulant. On the other hand, if Brad is over-the-top extroverted and drives people crazy because he’s loud and self-assured to the point of obnoxious, Jen might keep him down to earth and help him develop a sense of humility. That goes with friends too. Give the volatile fireball with anger management issues a level-headed, gentle friend who struggles to express his feelings. Make the friendship grow them into better people.

So there are some questions which have helped me in my bond-developing. I have a long way to go before I’ll be able to post any wildly eloquent writing advice here (ha ha, right), but hopefully this was a beneficial read and a good start. Have a wonderful weekend!

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