Of Avengers and Moving Castles

I’ve been thinking about books and movies that I enjoy. You know how you have different moods and sometimes you feel like reading/watching one sort of book or movie, and other times they just don’t “sound good”?

Well, I have come to the conclusion that there is one book that I always want to read and one movie that I always want to watch.

I don’t think this necessarily means they are my “favorite” (since I think The Lord of the Rings probably takes that place for both books and film).

But this book and this movie, they are my comfort-food. My happy place. Stories and characters that I never tire of and am always happy to re-visit. I always feel like I’d like to dive back into them.

That One Book and That One Movie

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For books, it’s Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, which I reread this month for the third time and loved even more than ever.

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Thanks for that reassurance, Howl…

***

For movies, it’s The Avengers, which I rewatched last night for the gajillionth time.

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Yeah, guys; you’re totally shocked, I know…

What is it about these two works? I don’t really know. All I know is I enjoy them immensely and even when I don’t feel like anything else, I feel like devouring them all over again.

They’re both extremely different. But they both have a good dose of humor, fabulous dialog, and casts of characters that I love intensely.

Howl’s Moving Castle

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Howl is of course one of my favorite characters of all time and he’s hilarious and awesome. But I love the rest of the cast as well: fiery Sophie, literally-fiery Calcifer, helpful/adorable Michael, etc…. I just love them and their interactions and adventures so much! The plot is intriguing as well, the moving castle itself I love and want one. It helps that it’s my favorite genre: medieval fantasy in another world. It’s hysterically funny, but also epic and adventurous and just fabulous fantasy. And Howl. Because Howl.

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The Avengers

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Hawkeye is my favorite of the Avengers, hands-down. But after him, I refuse to pick a favorite because I love ALL of them so much. Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Banner, Natasha… They’re each so fabulous. I love their interactions too, and it’s just great to see them hanging out and bickering or helping each other out… And I guess it’s my favorite movie genre? Action-adventure? I’ve never been much into superheroes, but I do enjoy the Avengers. And of course Hawkeye. Because Hawkeye.

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I don’t know. I guess The Avengers and Howl’s Moving Castle just make me happy. ^_^

So I now have only two questions:

Do you have a “comfort-food” (separate from “favorite”) book, film, show etc. that just makes you happy and you never tire of re-reading/watching?

And why isn’t Age of Ultron out yet?

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A Dream Not Imagined Cover Reveal

Today I’m excited to join in on the cover reveal for the upcoming fairytale novella A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu!

While I’ve yet to read this story, I helped edit Shantelle’s upcoming Christian Fantasy novel, Silver Rose, which was the editing project I’ve mentioned round about here a few times. Let me tell you, besides being a positively lovely person, Miss Shantelle is an author you’re going to want to keep an eye on! Silver Rose was a delight, one of my favorite reads so far this year, and I’m consequently very much looking forward to reading A Dream Not Imagined!

Besides, who doesn’t love a Cinderella retelling? 😉

Behold, the lovely cover!

A Dream Not Imagined Cover

About the Book

A MAID, a PRINCE, and a DUKE. A GARDENER, a STEPMOTHER, and a secret…

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family; she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after.

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream…of the same prince.

In the end, are dreams even all they’re made out to be? Especially with deep and long-hidden secrets about to be unearthed?

A Dream Not Imagined is a non-magical fairytale novella based loosely on the classic tale of Cinderella.

Tentative Release Date: June 2015

Add to GoodreadsAbout the Author

KODAK Digital Still CameraShantelle Mary Hannu was born in the mountainous west, spending her golden childhood years there. Since then, she has relocated time and again with her parents and seven siblings, making cherished memories in both the South and Central United States.

A Christian homeschool graduate, Shantelle has a passion for writing and all things books. From a young age she’s been penning tales with a hope of sharing with the world adventurous and soul-stirring stories that bring glory to God.

A Dream Not Imagined, a fairytale novella, will be her first published book. She’s currently preparing a full-length fantasy novel for publication as well, and working on its sequel.

Shantelle blogs at A Writer’s Heart about her stories, favorite books and movies (with reviews), healthy wheat-free recipes, and hosts fellow authors, among other things. One of her joys is connecting with fellow writers and readers! You can also find her on:

Facebook: Shantelle Mary Hannu, Author

Twitter: @shantellemary

Goodreads: Shantelle Mary Hannu

Google+: Shantelle H.

Pinterest: Shantelle H.

About the Illustrator

Natasha H. is an aspiring photographer and also loves drawing and painting. A Dream Not Imagined is the first book she has drawn the cover picture for.
Learn more about her work at her blog: http://tashahphotography.blogspot.com/

Other Bloggers Participating in the Cover Reveal

Hayden Wand at The Story Girl

Claire Banschbach at Claire M. Banschbach – Thoughts and Rants

Amber Stokes at Seasons of Humility

Ghost Ryter at Anything, Everything

E. Kaiser Writes at …The Adventure Begins

Alyssa-Faith at The American Anglophile

Hannah Williams at The Writer’s Window

Laura Pol at Crafty Booksheeps

Natasha H. at Through My Lens (+ review)

Skye Hoffert at Ink Castles

Jaye L. Knight at Jaye L. Knight’s Blog

Serena at Poetree

Brittney at Brittney’s Book Nook

Jesseca Dawn at Whimsical Writings

Lena K. at Read, Write, Laugh, DANCE

Allison Ruvidich at The Art of Storytelling

Shannon McDermott at Shannon McDermott’s Blog

Tricia Mingerink at The Pen of a Ready Writer

Where Are the Words

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“Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? They have passed like rain on the mountain, like wind in the meadow. The days have gone down in the West, behind the hills into shadow. How did it come to this?”

I haven’t written in 2 months.

Oh, sure, I’ve written oodles of snippets (for several different things, including my Kedran’s Wood books and lots for The Other Half of Everything), and done lots of plotting, and editing, and blog posts, and emails, and letters, and to-do-lists, and… you get the idea.

But 2 months ago was the last time I continued on a story of mine. Right now I’m staring at where my current works-in-progress break off and — there’s nothing.

It’s true I was taking off from writing on purpose, somewhat, to finish some projects, and it’s true I enjoyed the break, somewhat.

But there aren’t any words.

Sometimes I wonder if there will be any more, or if I’ve forgotten how to write — really write.

But I suppose that’s part of what I want anyway: To rediscover writing. If I can. We can hope…

Or… Not exactly writing. But storytelling.

What about you? Do you consider what I just mentioned to be “writing” or do you only count actual-manuscript-words-in-a-linear-fashion as real writing?

Do you have those moments when you don’t know how to start writing that next part of your story — not because you don’t know what to write, but because you don’t know how?

Do you ever have those moments where you just don’t have any words?

How do you deal with it?

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I don’t know, Gandalf, I really don’t.

#75thPost

The Other Half of Everything

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In my last post, I introduced the Aurelius siblings, and today I thought I’d say some more about the actual book they inhabit.

whimsyThe Other Half of Everything is set partially in our world in a vaguely modern time… I haven’t decided the exact location. But there is also a good deal of hopping over to fantasy worlds, which I’m very much looking forward to. In spite of what may sound like somewhat dark story-arcs for Teague and his siblings, I actually intend for the book to be fairly whimsical and humorous.

Although the Aurelius siblings are the ones who I’ve introduced, the main character of The Other Half of Everything is Meridian, who is very different than I am, and is going to be very interesting to write. I’m currently thinking of writing the book in first-person from Meridian’s point of view (which would make this my first book that wasn’t in third-person) but I haven’t decided yet. I think of the book as being primarily Meridian and Teague’s story.

Here’s a little (okay, long-ish) blurb-like bit about the story, and then, to get a further peek into it, some snippets, yay!

I also have a PINTEREST BOARD for it.

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Summary

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Meridian

All Meridian Brownley wanted was a job to help pay for college. Instead, she found an unwanted adventure when she became the housekeeper of the top floor of the enormous old house she had lived in all her life.

Everything she found there was unexpected (except the dust). Mr. Stottleshaw was not at all the white-haired old man who everyone along the street had not seen go down to his mailbox in thirteen years and was vaguely suspected of being a magician (which was nonsense). There was nothing very glamorous or mysterious or magical at all about the upper floor, although there was certainly an unusual amount of papers, and even larger quantities of frustration to be had.

Meridian avoided writers like the plague, which was unfortunate, as that was what Mr. Stottleshaw turned out to be — although that did not even seem to be his name. He was in fact Teague Aurelius, a young and extremely absentminded writer, who sometimes got lost in his stacks of books and papers, forest of sticky-notes, and armada of looking-glasses. He had very odd relatives who would drop in at the most inopportune times, and a bad habit of forgetting to eat unless Meridian cooked for him. And an even worse habit of disappearing for days.

Until one time, he took Meridian with him.

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Snippets

spiralstaircaseThe phone rang, a long, forlorn, wailing noise that seemed to echo through the rooms as if it was being abandoned. I soon found out why.

“Aren’t you going to answer that?” I asked him on the fourth ring.

“No.”

I paused, somewhat shaken at his flatness of tone. “But… if someone’s trying to get a hold of you…” I began.

He didn’t even look up, but interjected absently, “If they really want me to pay attention they can email, or text. Or write a letter,” he added as an afterthought.

I never wrote or typed anything if I could say it instead, and found it annoying when people insisted on texting and especially not answering their phones. “What if they want to talk to you?”

“Then they can come to the door,” he said, unperturbed and still not looking up. “I answer that. Most of the time.”

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Eventually, after the phone had rung repeatedly at intervals and been ignored by Teague every time, I lost my patience and answered it, looking directly at him so he would get the hint. “Hello? Teague’s residence—how many he not help you?”

***

booksandmirrorWhy do you have all these looking-glasses?” I found myself asking out loud as he passed one time.

I felt like I had cleaned a dozen already and was not looking forward to the nightmare of who-knew how many more.

“So that I won’t forget I exist,” Teague said.

I eyed his face, waiting for him to smile at his own joke. And then I realized he was being serious.

***

“Well… What are you writing?” I tried.

“Novels, naturally,” he said, in a way that seemed to imply that there was positively nothing else in the world that could be written.

I noticed that he had used a plural. “How many?” I asked.

“I haven’t the slightest idea,” he said unconcernedly. “As many as want to be written, plus several that don’t.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Thank you again.”

“I am not complimenting you.”

fantasyworldTeague smiled his absentminded smile—I was beginning to wonder if he had any other kind—and answered calmly, “Maybe you don’t think you are, but you may be wrong. When two people think opposite things about something and one person says something derogatory about the other… it can amount to a compliment. Compliments are slippery things.”

His logic was equally slippery, and, I thought, inaccurate, but I could not figure it out enough to argue. I shook my head and gave up. “I will never understand you.”

Teague’s vague smile widened as he walked dreamily to the next room, saying, “And that is the highest compliment of all.”

Beautiful People: The Aurelius Siblings

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I’m linking up with Beautiful People, a questionnaire for characters, hosted by Sky @ Further-up-and-Further-in and Cait @ PaperFury, for their Sibling Edition! If you’d like to join up for the writerly goodness, head on over to either of their blogs and sign up with the linky!

For these questions, today I’ve chosen to feature three siblings from my latest attack-plot-bunny that I’ve mentioned a couple times

I’d better tell the title now as well since it’s rather hard to talk about something when it’s still “the mystery book that Deborah is obsessed with but won’t tell us about”. 😉

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The Other Half of Everything

May I introduce the Aurelius siblings from my latest attack-plot-bunny, “The Other Half of Everything”: Teague, Ivan, and Lulin.

(pictures from pinterest)

Teague Aurelius

Ivan Aurelius

Lulin Aurelius

I thought about having the characters answer the questions themselves, since that’s always very fun. But Teague and Ivan refused to be in the same room… facing the same direction… answering questions… about each other. And Lulin saw no reason why the burden should fall on her to answer for her stubbornly thickheaded older brothers. So I’m afraid I’ll have to do the answering today…

The Aurelius Siblings

1. What is the first memory they have of each other?

Teague remembers Ivan’s laugh when as a baby he crawled the vast reaches of the kitchen floor; and soon after Lulin was born, her first smile lighting up a world that did not know what it had been missing. Ivan remembers Teague breaking his fall when he fell off a particularly high and frightening bed; and Lulin in pink trying to master the art of crawling up stairs. Lulin remembers her and Ivan drawing on each other with pens; and Teague holding her up to a looking glass to see the tiara on her head.

2. Describe their relationship in 3 words.

Lulin’s toward both brothers: loving, lost, heartbroken. The two brothers’ relationship toward Lulin: caring, playful, distracted. Teague and Ivan’s relationship: strained, broken, angry.

3. What kind of things do they like to do together?

They used to walk the worlds together… Until their other brother died. Now Ivan and Teague actively avoid each other, and if they end up in the same room the only things likely to occur are a) ignoring, and b) arguing. Ivan and Lulin take walks or see movies together, if he’s in a good mood and if she’s on speaking terms with him that particular day. Lulin and Teague will sit and talk, or read to each other, or she’ll play her cello while he writes.

4. What was their biggest fight?

Lulin still fights both of them a tiny bit sometimes and Teague and Ivan used to fight all the time back when they lived together… But their biggest three-way fight was the one they had after their other brother’s death, and was the fight that tore them apart and ended in them all leaving and going separate ways, to each be broken on their own.

5. How far would they go to save each other?

Teague and Ivan would go to the ends of the worlds and back for their little sister, and Lulin would do the same for them. Teague says he’s washed his hands of Ivan… but if push came to shove he’d do anything to save his brother, even if he won’t admit it right now. It’s never occurred to Ivan that his older brother might need saving someday — if it did, he’d say he hates Teague and it serves him right; but the next second he might step in recklessly and do whatever he had to… if he was in the mood…

6. What are their pet peeves about each other?

Ivan’s recklessness, rebellious streak, and recent inclination toward drinking. Lulin’s lightheartedness, tendency to distract herself with pretty things, and how she keeps trying to get them to reconcile. Teague’s habit of putting on an absentminded front, burying himself under a vague emotionlessness, and how he disappears into his writing, and takes a position of leadership without consulting them about it. And all of them are annoyed at each other’s stubbornness…

7. What are their favorite things about each other?

Both brothers like Lulin’s playfulness and alternating spunk and sweetness, the way she always has the right thing to say to make them smile… or used to; and the way everything is somehow almost okay when she’s around. Lulin and Ivan both like how unshakable Teague is, his quiet strength and intelligence… though Ivan would never admit it these days. Lulin likes how Ivan will pay attention to her and share in her playfulness at times. And Teague liked Ivan’s previous openness and boyish ability to live life to the fullest, which is a much-needed reminder for Teague, who can forget such things when he’s busy being the leader with others, or the writer on his own. Right now though, Teague’s and Ivan’s favorite things about each other are on hold… they secretly miss each other, but the rift runs too deep to be bridged, or for them to admit it even to themselves.

8. What traits do they share? Mannerisms, clothing, quirks, looks, etc?

They have fair hair — but of varying shades (Teague’s sandy-brown, Ivan’s yellow-blond and spiky, and Lulin’s a startling white), and each have the same indecisively colored eyes, grey-blue-green. They’re extremely stubborn. And they have a pull toward adventure that none of them can ignore for too long.

9. Who has the strongest personality?

Each of the three has similarly strong personalities, although quite different from each other’s; Teague’s might be the strongest, though often hidden behind his absent front. But perhaps the personality stronger than any of theirs was their other brother’s before his death, who was a heroic, charismatic, head-on, all-around outgoing person, with a touch of Teague’s leadership, Ivan’s recklessness, and Lulin’s playfulness. Without him, each of their personalities seem to be missing something… to have a hole that is taking a long time healing.

10. How does their relationship change throughout your story?

I can’t really say yet, since the story is still in its fledgling stages… I do hope that they will come to accept each other… That they will realize they’re broken on their own and need each other… That the brothers will again look after Lulin as they used to… That she will learn it is not entirely up to her to look after them… And especially that Ivan and Teague will be reconciled, and learn to look after each other and be brothers again.

That’s what I hope, anyway. But we’ll have to see.

Because with such stubbornness in the Aurelius family, who can say what will happen when this fledgling story grows its feathers, takes wing, and soars from the nest of this writer’s mind to the ever-waiting paper…?