Steampunk, Explosions (Almost), & All the Writing: May 2018 Ishness

Well… I’m back!

In the famous words of Sam Gamgee (I was creative about the punctuation, but still). Which most people consider to be the end of The Lord of the Rings — EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD EPILOGUE AFTER THAT WHICH SOMEBODY CONVINCED TOLKIEN TO LEAVE OUT OF THE PUBLISHED VERSION AND WHICH I’VE STILL NOT FORGIVEN WHOEVER-IT-WAS FOR DOING BECAUSE REALLY. IT NEEDED THAT AWESOME EPILOGUE.

Ahem.

Pardon my Middle-earth rabbit-trail.

Anyhoo, I’m back from my May hiatus-of-sorts, and I’ll now proceed to fill you in on aaall the writing/reading/watching/etc. that happened while I was away from blogging!

Including snippets and the time my street almost blew up. Ish.


Writing

I wrote 15,000 words in May, which I’m extremely happy about! Especially since that’s more than I wrote for April Camp NaNo. XD

Most of that was due to a lot of lovely wordsprints during Indie E-Con, which had a week-long word-war… which I won due to my 10K words that week. 😀 I was kiiind of really excited about that! I actually wrote 11.5K words that week if you count Sunday — just over the amount of words I’d written in the entirety of April for Camp, so I’m very pleased!

I wrote parts of a couple other things, but mostly I was working on my steampunk-fantasy novel, The Siren and the Skyship, which is flying along quite nicely! I’m extremely happy about this. 😀 I’ve been writing mostly out of order, just a scene here and a scene there (but they’re connecting, finally!), sometimes in a messy draft-zero form, and the plot is still being stubborn and I KNOW I’ll have to rewrite a ton, but at least I’m making progress and having a BLAST. It’s so much fun and I love this story so much. ^_^

I wrote over 13K words on S&S in May, so last I knew, the story has reached about 67K words. I’m getting to write actual-big-important-scenes and it’s fabulous. 😀

In short, I wrote a TON (for me) this last month, and I’m having the absolute best time, and IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. ❤


Snippets (from The Siren and the Skyship)

Keller threw up his hands. “You were tracking me? I always knew the stories were right and stepbrothers are evil.”

“It’s stepsisters,” Gerias protested, “and I’m not evil.”

“You put a tracking on me without my permission. What do you call that?”

“People rarely put trackings on people with permission,” Tasmania mused.

Gerias sighed. “No offense, Captain, but you’re not helping.”

Keller pointed at her. “You are, actually. Thanks for that.” He sent a pointed look at Gerias.

***

“You know, we never did get that time hanging out and chatting, just the three of us,” Tasmania said.

Percy’s face dropped. “Oh. I—I forgot. I had that thing and then— I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t. I know you’re busy. It’s just… this is fun, you know? Just getting to chat for a minute. Alone. Ish.”

Ish here meaning in a ballroom surrounded by about three hundred people,” her brother said wryly.

Tasmania wrinkled her nose, but she was smiling too. “That’s exactly what ish means.”

“Well, you know what? Forget social thingamawhatsits and duties and whatnot; they can go hang,” King Percival said recklessly. “The three of us do need to find a time to just chat—let’s do it tonight.”

“What, after the ball?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“At, like, midnight?” Tasmania raised an eyebrow.

“We’re grownups. We can stay up late,” Percival said bullishly.

Tasmania laughed. “I meant, there’s that whole coronation thing tomorrow morning. Are you sure you want to stay up late talking all night the night before? You’ll be all bleary and half-asleep and red-eyed, and you’ll fall asleep while you’re being crowned or something.”

“Exactly. It’ll be glorious. Why not live a little, I say? And then I can always say anything that goes wrong was your fault, you know,” he teased.

“Just you try,” Tasmania said, smirking.


Reading

I read some lovely books this month!

  • If you’re curious about these, you can click the following links to read my reviews of: Kate’s Dilemma, The Story Peddler, Mythical Doorways, and The Stealthmaster’s Shadow. I really enjoyed all of them!
  • Oh, oh! And Mythical Doorways had some delightful short stories (and it’s FREE, so you should totally pick it up!), including one with my new favorite character, Jayden. I’ve only met him in short stories, but HE’S MY FAVE. If you hear me randomly flailing about him, this is why.
  • Common was SO SWEET. Lovely fantasy/fairytale-esque romantic YA, reminiscent of things like Ella Enchanted. I loved it. ^_^
  • Trial by Song was a FASCINATING modern retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and was SO INTENSE. O_O *collapses* It also ended on a terrible cliffhanger from which I’ve still not recovered.
  • A Sidekick’s Tale was a hilarious western novella — kind of like if a Bertie Wooster story was a western. XD
  • AND THEN THERE’S THE ELECTRICAL MENAGERIE. People. You need this book in your life. It’s a steampunk (ish) novel with a buddy story (kind of) and snark and humor and show business and illusions and murder and danger and plots, and I can’t really categorize it but IT WAS SO GOOD AAAH. I currently have a book hangover from this delightful book. How will anything ever be this good again? *collapses* The Electrical Menagerie is releasing this week. Anyway. If you’re not sure if you’d like to try it or not, you can check out Arbrook Huxley and the Star-Crossed Lovers to see if you’d like more of the same, since it’s a short story which is free on the author’s newsletter and is HILARIOUS. XD (Butbutbut. Carthage and Huxley. They’re my favorites. :D)

(I’m not going to link to all the titles but if you’d like to check out any of these books, you can find links to them on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page.)


Watching


  • So, I saw Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story. And, in an attempt to be a good blogger and share things I thought about them in this post, I wrote up thoughts on both at least three times and erased them and… yeah, no, not going to have opinions because I hate having those (or at least sharing them) and I don’t want to be roasted by (or hurt feelings of) any who feel strongly one way or another. I had mixed thoughts on both, disliked some things, enjoyed others. 🙂 The end.
  • I also randomly re-watched the Lord of the Rings fan-films Born of Hope (THE SONS OF ELROND!) and The Hunt for Gollum. XD
  • And just a few episodes of the usual suspects: Once Upon a Time, Trollhunters, NCIS, and White Collar. And a little re-watching Sherlock. Still enjoying all of ’em in their way! 🙂

Also, speaking of movies, there’s a poster for the next How to Train Your Dragon movie AND AAAAAHH LOOK AT IT!!!! ❤

(I’ll just be over here QUIETLY SHRIEKING about this, thank you. *muffled “squee!” noises*)


Life

I’ve been working on a website and some branding/theme stuff for my writing self, so I’m hoping to share some of that in the next month or so. 🙂


I guess the most exciting thing that happened was my street almost blowing up.

I may exaggerate.

Slightly.

“We may experience some slight turbulence and then… explode.”

Okay, so some roadwork people hit a gas line right in front of my house, and they kinda-sorta evacuated half the block. We grabbed laptops and went down to a cafe thing for a couple of hours and saw reruns of the Royal Wedding, and mostly just hoped they (the road workers, not the royal people) wouldn’t accidentally blow up the block or anything. But it got fixed and we went home and everything was fine. It was just… an interesting day. *cough*


My sis and I have also been jogging occasionally, which has been fun because we’ve named ourselves the “Like a Quick Lady” Writer Fitness Club. Because writers need to get out too.

It’s a reference to a line from Beggar Magic by H. L. Burke:

She started to run, but heard her mother’s voice in her head, “Do you want to be so out of breath you can’t even say ‘hello’ when you find your friend? Walk like a lady.”

Like a quick lady, Leilani decided.

(Beggar Magic is an excellent book I really enjoyed, and if you’re curious to read it, it’s currently the free thing you get if you sign up for H. L. Burke’s fun newsletter. FYI.)

I just like that line, and “like a quick lady” is something I say when I’m in a hurry. XD So when we’re jogging, we say that a lot, as well as “On your left!” (Because Captain America.) Because what fun is jogging unless there are lots of fandom-y, inside jokes? 😉


Also, fresh apricots are STUPENDOUS, I TELL YOU. That is all.


June Plans

Well… it’s June (HOW??) so Realm Makers is less than a month and a half away, which is TERRIFYING (I mean… exciting, too; but still terrifying), so I really have to get on that to-do list of mine and start finishing up some of the projects I’ve been working on, like my official website and things. 😛

So I’ll be focusing on various writerly pre-conference things and trying to juggle life, while also hopefully keeping up with a bunch of book releases and reviews because some little otter secretary seems to have signed me up for a lot of blog tours and review books right when I need to be busy with other stuff. 😉

But that’s how these things go, and I’m super excited for all the books (you can check out all the bookish things going on this month in my Bookish News post on my book blog!) so yeah. It’s going to be fun! I just feel extremely busy. XD


How about you? Thoughts? What are your June plans? Share in the comments — I’d love to hear all about it. ^_^ I hope you have an amazing summer! Thanks so much for reading. ❤

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Diana Wynne Jones: 6 Quotes to Live By

I love Diana Wynne Jones books.

One of the things I love about them (besides the brilliant humor, the original fantasy elements, the larger-than-life-characters, and the sheer un-pigeon-hole-able-ness of the books) is the writing.

I love those times when you run across a line and have to stop reading and sit back and stare unseeing at the universe, and think: “Wow.”

I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface, but here are a mere half a dozen of those gems, which personally impacted me or which I feel have something to say about life that we should listen to. 🙂

“There goes Mig with her happy endings again,” Chris said. But I don’t care. I like happy endings. And I asked Chris why something should be truer just because it’s unhappy. He couldn’t answer.

— from Aunt Maria

This one kind of sums up my thoughts on happy endings. XD I really believe that happy endings and eucatastrophe are important in fiction. Life has enough darkness and sorrow. Fiction — especially fantasy — is the place where one can have happy endings that give hope. I’ve often seen it said that happy endings or certain good things in fiction are “unrealistic”. My response is like Mig’s. Why should something be truer just because it’s unhappy?

“When you grow up to be an author and write books, you’ll think you’re making the books up, but they’ll all really be true, somewhere.”

— from Witch Week (Chrestomanci series)

I love this one! It really makes you think, you know? It’s one of the things that really fits with my work-in-progress novel I’m writing, The Other Half of Everything. It also seems to fit in quite well with Tolkien’s idea of a “Tree of Tales”, which he wrote about in his essay On Fairy Stories. I recently read The Game by Diana Wynne Jones, and this quote seems to fit with that too, with the idea of the Mythosphere in that book, where stories are really out there and really true.

“Only thin, weak thinkers despise fairy stories. Each one has a true, strange fact hidden in it, you know, which you can find if you look.”

— from Fire and Hemlock

This one was from Thomas Lynn, one of my favorite characters. I could probably do an entire post about Tom and his sayings in Fire and Hemlock, including one I often quote, about not leaving a book open, lying on its face (the poor thing’s in torment!). But this one is one of my favorites, and I agree with it. I mean, look at the true, strange facts I find in Diana Wynne Jones’ books! I think it’s true of all really good fantasy — real fairy stories.

“Only way I can do something this frightening is to tell myself I’m not doing it!”

— from Howl’s Moving Castle

I mentioned this quote in a guest post I did, all about my writing technique, Draft Zero. But it’s not the only thing I use this “Howling myself into things” method for! I just love this one, because I can apply it to most things I don’t want to do. It really taught me something about myself when I read that. I think many of us relate to Howl on this point more than we would like to admit… Or at least, that’s the case for me! 😉

“Can’t you treat yourself with a bit more consideration?”

“Why should I?” Mordion said […]

“Because you’re a person, of course!” Ann snapped at him. “One person ought to treat another person properly even if the person’s himself!”

“What a strange idea!” Mordion said.

— from Hexwood

This is a rather complex one. It goes on to say, later: “Ann had once more put her finger on something he did not want to think about.” And I’d say, yes, it’s one of those things that, like Mordion, I didn’t really want to think about — but it made me. And that’s one of the things about Diana Wynne Jones books, is they’ll do that to you.

How often am I simply too hard on myself about things, when I would never dream of treating another person that way — only myself? Because, well… I don’t matter, so that’s silly. But… well… it’s not. Because I’m a person too, and I ought to treat another person properly, even if the person’s myself.

And when I’m reading the book, I can see exactly why Mordion feels the way he does, because (not to go into spoilers) the villains are horrendous and Mordion was brought up a certain way, which is why he doesn’t see himself as a person, and it takes Ann snapping at him to make him see this and to realize he is one after all.

But the contrast between Mordion’s terrible life and my own ordinary one, with both of us feeling the same way, is startling, because I have absolutely no excuse, and yet I can see myself saying, with Mordion, “What a strange idea!” And Ann replied: “It’s not strange, it’s common sense!”

“I think we ought to live happily ever after.”

— from Howl’s Moving Castle

Of course this has to be included, last of all! 😉 I don’t think it needs much explaining . . . I can only say that I wholeheartedly agree, Howl!

(All quote images were designed by me, using free images.)

I’m posting this in honor of March Magics 2018, hosted by Kate @ We Be Reading.

What are some of your favorite quotes, from Diana Wynne Jones or otherwise? And what do you think of these? Thanks for reading! ^_^

Top 6 Types of Epic Mentors in Fantasy

Ah, mentors.

One of the staples of the Fantasy genre, mentors are often underappreciated (and often quickly dead, at that, but we won’t go into this right now…) but so important — and can have their own very striking personalities as well.

Where would all of our heroes be without mentors?

Well, certainly not saving the world, for one thing; probably not very knowledgeable, for another; and most likely dead, for a third.

In short, they’d be sunk.

So it’s high time we paid homage to some amazing mentors!

Today’s February #FantasyMonth (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt) prompt is “Best mentors in fantasy” and that had me stopping and thinking: “Wait. I have so many favorites!”

Rather than make a little tweet about it and not do these fabulous gentlemen (and ladies!) justice, I decided I’d do a whole post about it instead.

A strong mentor is one you remember vividly and who is knowledgeable about something necessary to the quest or story you find yourself in, and one you’d love to have at your side in a pinch, to help you out of this mess — or at least teach you how to do so yourself.

(I was afraid, when making my list, that I’d have to leave some out for not being from fantasy. But it turns out all the great mentors I can think of ARE from fantasy, so… there you are! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s most everyone I could think of at the moment.)

So I’d like to share with you twenty of my favorite mentors from page and screen, and I’d divided them into six types of epic mentors. Enjoy!

1. Classic Mentors

You know what I’m talking about. Grey or white hair, often a long beard, sometimes grouchy, or alternately quite merry with twinkling eyes and a sense of humor (sometimes at your own expense…), but very wise and prone to getting you swept away on an adventure you weren’t expecting — and likely didn’t want — but there it is! These elderly gentlemen are wise beyond their already extensive years, and you definitely want them at your side as you step into your adventure.

Examples:

  • Gandalf the Grey/White (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien) — Do I really need to say anything here? Honestly? Gandalf is the epitome of Fantasy Mentor; though he’s not ACTUALLY as grouchy and extreme as people act like he is, and he’s definitely more to be reckoned with than the weak film versions of him. I do like him in the movies, but right now I’m talking about the real, BOOK version of Gandalf. 😉 Wise, dependable, and lit with an inner fire of goodness, whether as the Grey Wanderer or the White Rider, Gandalf is one of the great protectors of Middle-earth, and wherever there’s an effort of Good fighting against Evil, you’ll usually find him at the center of the adventure, guiding the heroes!
  • Great Uncle Merry (Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper) — Oh, Great Uncle Merry! He’s one of my favorites. Later revealed in the rest of the Dark is Rising Sequence in a more classic mentor role as Merriman Lyon, I still love him most in the first book, when he’s just the Drew children’s “great uncle” (Gummery, as young Barney calls him), and he makes you feel SAFE, you know? He’s also very wise, and fun, and just the absolute best.
  • Thomas Warvold (The Land of Elyon series by Patrick Carman) — I’m going to have to start talking less or we’ll be here all day, so I’ll simply say that Warvold is another classic example of one of the great wise old men — and he rather shapes young Alexa’s adventures, even if he’s not as much a part of them as one would like… He’s great, and I’d love to go to the library in Bridewell and eat strawberry jam on buscuits with him!
  • Cosimo Livingstone (The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead) — The great-grandfather of our hero Kit, old Cosimo was my favorite character in this book! The one who starts it all and gets Kit off on his adventure (what did I tell you about these older fellows sweeping heroes off!), Cosimo knows so much and is just fabulous. (I may be stretching the “fantasy” genre a tiny bit on this one, but it’s a rather unpidgeonholeable series, so we’ll just go with that… And of course I needed to include him in this list!)

2. Grizzled Mentors

These are the ones that aren’t quite as old as the Classic Mentors. These are maybe in their fifties or sixties — still seasoned veterans of life, but have a bit of fire. They often have a grizzled appearance: might have a short grey beard or salt-and-pepper stubble, or just hair flecked with grey, and they’re often weatherbeaten and not who you expect them to be. They can be sarcastic or warmhearted (or both) but they’re to be reckoned (but not trifled) with! These are one of my favorite kinds. 😀

Examples:

  • Halt (Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan) — I read the first Ranger’s Apprentice book this month specifically so I could include Halt in this post. XD I’d heard so much about him and I was pretty sure he belonged in my list, so I up and read it. And I was right — he so belongs here! Definitely one of my favorite mentors EVER. ❤ He’s such a great mentor and he’s indescribable, honestly. I just really like him. 😀 (You can read my thoughts on the first Ranger’s Apprentice book in my post from yesterday!)
  • Rayad (Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight) — I mean. Anyone who’s read this series should know he belongs here. 😉

(Brom)

  • Brom (Eragon movie) — I confess, I haven’t read the book. *cough* But I’m aware that the book-Brom is more of the Classic Mentor type. Anyway, I’m here to talk about movie-Brom, who is great! He’s definitely the grizzled, grouchy, sarcastic mentor type.

(Karn)

  • Karn (Ren: The Girl with the Mark – online TV series) — I love Karn! We didn’t get to see a lot of him due to the series only being about 50 minutes, but what we did see was great and he seems like he has huge potential as a mentor, the kind in this category, but a bit more friendly perhaps. XD
  • Prince Gwydion (Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander) — I don’t always think of Gwydion as a mentor character, but it fits for this post, and Taran definitely looks up to him. He’s wise and epic and just generally amazing in most ways. Can you imagine having Gwydion as a mentor? That would be awesome.
  • Romanov (The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones) — I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember him very well; I read this book from the library while I had the flu, and some of it’s a little vague in my head to say the least… But I do remember that Romanov was absolutely awesome and I think he was this grizzled type and I really liked him.

3. Handsome-Young-Magician Mentors

(Yes, this is a thing; sorry.) These are the charming, somewhat debonaire magicians, who are young, handsome, and completely unexpected in the mentor category, but here they are all the same. I was surprised by how many I found in this category!

Examples:

  • Chrestomanci a.k.a. Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones) — Oh, Chrestomanci! How awesome would it be to have him as a mentor? I mean, he’d likely be slightly terrifying, really, with his hard stare and biting sarcasm if he was annoyed with you. But he’s so calm and powerful in a quiet, elegant way, and you’ll often find him in one of his many extravagant dressing-gowns or in a beautifully tailored suit. When you have a magical mishap (er… world-shattering disaster?) and you call Chrestomanci, you know the moment he arrives that everything’s going to be all right.
  • Howl (Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones) — What is this? Howl? A mentor? He may be a great many things, but is a mentor really one of them? Well yes, it is — let’s not forget his apprentice, Michael! Howl sometimes may seem irresponsible or dramatic, or dreamily absent, but he actually is a pretty good mentor to Michael and seems to teach him well enough — and he took orphaned Michael in off the streets, so that’s another good quality in a mentor. And Howl being one of the most magical people in Ingary, of course he’s an ideal teacher to have, despite his seeming flaws of character… *cough*
  • Mairelon the Magician a.k.a. Richard Merrill (Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede) — I need to read the first book in this duology, but in the one I read, Mairelon is a great teacher for the heroine — and has some sort of quality rather like Chrestomanci or Howl, which is part of why he fits in here. He doesn’t care about what high society thinks of him, but he’s all gentleman at that, and if anyone can get a street-thief girl turned into a magical lady, it’s him.
  • Mr. Wicker (Mr. Wicker’s Window / The Sign of the Seven Seas by Carley Dawson) — A bit different than the three above, he still fit into this category better than any of the other categories. He’s from the 1700s (it’s a time-travel fantasy series), and he and the young hero, Chris, end up on adventures on the high seas or in Asia or Mexico, and he’s very patient and capable and usually has a few tricks up his sleeve — just the one you want to help you out.

4. Young Headstrong Mentors

These are the ones who are epic heroes in their own right, but somehow (against their own wishes, in fact) they find themselves saddled with another, younger hero. They may not have completed their own training, but they’re definitely more qualified than THESE kids, and, well, somebody has to take them in hand… They might be a bit gruff or not get along, but deep down they really care about their pupils… at least eventually. 😉

Examples:

  • Jet Valinor (Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley) — Oh, Jet. The best. 😀 He’s got to rank as “youngest, most awesome hero-in-his-own-right mentor EVER.” XD He has quite the attitude himself, and obviously didn’t want to end up with annoying puppy-dog-like Darien as his apprentice, but he’s pretty good at mentoring… kinda… even if Darien finds HIM annoying. XD It’s like a buddy-story turned mentor-apprentice relationship and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Jet’s awesome in aaaall the ways.

(Kanan)

  • Kanan Jarrus (Star Wars: Rebels TV show) — I’m sliiightly stretching the “fantasy” genre here, but we’ll call Star Wars science fantasy and go with that. Just because I really, really wanted to list him. XD I know people usually think Obi-Wan or Yoda or maybe Qui-Gon when they think Star Wars mentor, but Kanan is my favorite. (Note: I’m talking about the first season of Star Wars: Rebels here.) He has to put up with Ezra (who I also love) and even though he never completed his Jedi training, he does pretty well with teaching his young Padawan. And he’s just awesome, so.

5. Dragon Mentors

Okay, so I don’t know if there are a lot of these or not. But I realized when I was making a list of my top 20 favorite mentors that two of them were dragons. So this category clearly had to be made. 😉 Grouchy, dangerous, and always with the possibility they could lose their temper and roast or eat you, dragon mentors are actually one of the best kinds of mentors otherwise, because they are often extremely wise, and… well… dragons. That’s a plus right there. (Even if you’re not always sure whose side they’re on. :P)

Examples:

  • Scales (Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones) — Oh my. It’s very hard to talk about this dragon without spoilers, but let’s just say he has a VERY forceful personality, and he’s an excellent (if unexpected) mentor and I love him! (When he puts Kit in his place, it’s great. XD)
  • Malcolm Blackfire (Afterlands books by Kyle Robert Shultz) — Still waiting for some more screen (I mean… page) time for Malcolm in other books (*cough*waitiiiing*cough*), but he was apparently Lady Cordelia’s mentor, and he seems like he’d be a great one — plus, he does kind of look after the Mythfits and his school. Malcolm is one of the coolest dragon characters (he can also shapeshift between his dragon/human forms), and while he’s rather gruff and sometimes it seems uncertain whether he’s actually on “our” side, you can tell deep down he’s actually heroic. 😉 MALCOLM’S AWESOME.

6. Lady Mentors

These do exist! As much as we often imagine old bearded men as mentors, there are some amazing ladies who have been incredible mentors in their time. The two I’ve picked are actually extremely different than each other, so I’m not going to generalize their “type” since they don’t really have one, so I’ll discuss them each individually. 😉

Examples:

  • Princess Irene the older (The Princess and the Goblin & The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald) — The “grandmother” of little Princess Irene, and her namesake, this fascinating lady sometimes seems old and other times young and beautiful, but she’s the one to go to for counsel — as young Irene or Curdie often end up doing. Sometimes you won’t want to do what she says needs to be done, but you’ll end up doing it all the same, because it’s right, and she’ll show you why. She’s a classic mentor lady, and so ageless. I’ve always loved this character. 🙂
  • Beana (Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Fallen Star by Anne Elisabeth Stengl) — Well, well. Who would think to find a nanny-goat in this category? Ahem. 😉 Those who’ve read these books will know that Beana is not what she seems! I absolutely LOVE her, and her relationship with Rosie. Beana is just so SOLID, and always knows the right thing to say — even if sometimes it seems a little blunt. XD Where would Rosie be without her Beana to tell her things?

So there you are!

Have you read (or watched) any of these? What do you think of my categories, and do you have any to add? And who are some of YOUR favorite mentors, fantasy or otherwise? 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think! Thanks for reading!

Ishness! (First of 2018!)

Iiiit’s time for… ISHNESS!

Because the last time I shared one was the beginning of December, at the end of NaNo season! So it’s high time for another one. 😉

Here are some of my ishnesses from December and the first month of 2018!

December 2017 Highlights

A lovely day in December: editing a short story, with cozy new slippers and my lovely Jayne-from-Firefly hat and bullet-journal, when it had just snowed outside, with my Tolkien collection at my feet.

  • Went on semi-hiatus post-NaNo but wrote 900 words scattered across half a dozen different stories, and had plotbunny explosions (of course; this is why I shouldn’t go on break).
  • The Siren and the Skyship decided it was a trilogy, so now I have two sequels to write as well as finish it. They’re all going to be retellings (the other two might be two each?) and I’M EXCITED.
  • A couple of my older ideas gained new titles and awesomeness (also retellings) and it’s going to be glorious. I have so many back-burner novel ideas that want my attention, but at the moment they must wait…
  • Edited and posted Tare and the Puppies! ^_^
  • I FINALLY read the much-hyped first book of the Wingfeather Saga, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and really enjoyed it! SO FUN. I also saw the mini film episode thing online AND IT IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING. Seriously, go watch it if you haven’t!
  • I also read The Stroke of Eleven and alskdjfldkj MY FEELS. I need more Beaumont and Beasley! And I read a few other books, some of them actually Christmassy! (Look at me being all season-appropriate!)
  • Speaking of seasons: THERE WAS SNOW. It only came down for like ten minutes and none of it stayed, but it was sooo pretty! ^_^
  • Watched the second half of Once Upon a Time’s first season, and started the second season. Muchly enjoyable. SO MANY THINGS.
  • Re-watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice, which was lovely. I love both film versions, but hadn’t seen this one in ages, so that was fun. (I still love the book best; sorry! XD) This was one of the three rewards I promised to myself if I finished NaNo. I still haven’t gotten to the other two. *cough*
  • And, naturally, had Christmas, which was quiet and lovely. ^_^

JANUARY

And now on to more recent history: the beginning of 2018!

life

  • Started new journals! Always a highlight of the start of a new year. XD 9th writing journal (yay!). My new bjournal (which is my Nordic-ish abbreviation for bullet journal) is blue and fuzzy and I love it SO MUCH.
  • In December I won a gorgeous mythological creature coloring book, and this year I’ve started coloring for twenty minutes most days for relaxation. It’s wonderful and I love it. I’m trying new productivity techniques, which include some exercise and actually taking care of myself. (I know; shocking, right?)

  • Won a little dragon and his name is Benedict Pendragon and he’s SO ADORABLE and I love him.
  • Went out to see the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse Thingamy, but apparently got out like 2 minutes too late because it went behind clouds and I didn’t get to see it at all. XD
  • Was cold. (It got down to 8 degrees at one point and just — no. I live in Texas for a reason and that does not include being this cold thank you very much.)

writing

Added 3K words to The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. A little slow but it’s the first real writing I’ve done since NaNo, so I’m just happy to be starting up again! 🙂 And I’d been stuck on this chapter FOREVER. It had dibs and dabs of snippets out of order throughout it, so I finally went through and added to it and filled in the “holes” with “draft zero” writing, and basically have a completed chapter of a patchwork of snippets/draft-zero, so I just need to smooth/turn it into a first draft. But I’ve been stuck on it for a long time, so this makes me happy to have it sewn together! *wonders if any of this makes sense to anyone besides me*

This writing was largely due to my Writing Day. Each year on the 20th of January I write something; it’s a tradition I’ve kept up since 2010. So that got me to sit down and work on SOMETHING, and I’m very pleased. 🙂

Also, The Secret of Kedran’s Wood is officially growing alarmingly large. I’m trying not to worry about that, and just writing, buuut… you know. XD

I also did some plotting on a few stories (including my old NaNo 2013 story, Underground Rainbow, which this month decided to chop itself up as a trilogy, effectively meaning that book one is basically done and book two started; so I accidentally more-or-less “finished” a novel without writing anything. XD).

Other Writerly Things

  • Did #WIPjoy for OHE.
  • Started my new writing journal, which now has 10 pages in it.
  • Blogged a fair amount.
  • And I did some more business-y things like a bit of freelance editing and making some plans. 🙂

Not a huge amount done, but coming out of a month of hiatus, with NaNo before that, I’m slowly easing back into the writing world, and happy with what I did accomplish!

reading

I read 15 things in January! I’m counting short stories on my Goodreads reading challenge this year, so it’s not as many as it sounds, but still. XD

Re-reads, short stories, non-fiction, new novels… quite the collection. I’m also getting back into my Tolkien hobby and this makes me marvelously happy.

Highlights of the month are DEFINITELY The Last Motley, which I got for review and is my favorite thing I’ve read this year (releasing tomorrow!) — simply STELLAR fantasy; and the first Ranger’s Apprentice book, which is precious and I love Halt. 😀

watching highlights

  • Once Upon a Time: Season 2 — Just a few episodes of this. Still enjoying it. I think I liked the first season better, but it’s definitely still intriguing. 😉
  • Persuasion (1971) — I’d seen two film versions previously, but this one was much longer, and I really enjoyed it! I enjoyed them all, actually, and can’t pick a favorite. 😛 This might be my least-favorite version of Captain Wentworth, but it was my favorite version of Anne, so…? Anyway, ’twas enjoyable. ^_^ Anyone else seen this one?
  • Re-watched some The Deputy episodes (one of my favorite buddy-stories!) and re-watched Zorro (1975) which is my FAVORITE Zorro thing of all time, I think… though I love pretty much all Zorro things to bits. ❤

listening

  • Brittany Jean’s new album, Wander with Me, has been one of my main listening things lately. I got it for review and it’s lovely! Review to come. ^_^
  • Kyle Robert Shultz started a podcast for writers, and while I’m very bad at keeping up with podcasts, I did make sure to listen to the first 3 episodes, and enjoyed them very much. Some great advice. 🙂
  • And in general I’ve been listening to beautiful calming music while coloring/exercising in the morning; it’s been splendid and so relaxing.

Upcoming Plans

Awesome things going on in the next couple of months are February Fantasy Month and March Magics just around the corner… I hope to take part in both to celebrate fantasy and Diana Wynne Jones, two of my favorites!

There are reviews and other posts coming up on the blogs… I’m also doing a couple of hashtag games on Twitter this month: Jenelle’s #FantasyMonth and also #StoryWarriors.

I still have many projects I’m in the process of working on, including some of my writer dreams I shared last month, so we’ll see how those go.

I need to pick a WIP to focus on, but keep thinking about Kedran’s Wood, The Other Half of Everthing, and the (untitled) Siren and the Skyship trilogy, as well as being vaguely aware I have some short stories to write, and other stories popping in to my attention from time to time as well. I just can’t seem to settle on ONE!

Life looks like it’s going to be very busy for the next few weeks (isn’t it always), so I’m mostly just hoping to get through that and still focus on some of my creative pursuits and keep up with my oh-so-many online commitments too! A little overwhelmed right now; wish me luck. XD

So there you have my ishness of late! How about you? How was your January, what have you been up to, and what are your February plans? Can you believe we’re already a month into 2018?? Talk to me! Thanks for reading. ^_^

Augtember Ishness: Steampunk & Star Trek & Beren, Oh My!

August – September 2017

Hello, my Roadlings! It’s October! I don’t actually want to hear that, but, well… such is life. Speaking of life, here are some Ishnesses of mine from the last two months. (Shh, of course Augtember is a legitimate month…)

LIFE

I was mostly busy with Life-ish and some Internet-ish things, but here are a few random things of interest that happened:

Sometimes I art. (Dragon from Jenelle’s Minstrel’s Song series for the Fellowship of Fantasy Fan Art Contest. I didn’t win but a different picture for the same series did. XD)

Sometimes I’m interviewed. This was one of those times. (Thanks, Emily!)

Sometimes I see an eclipse. (“See” is here a vague word. I didn’t look directly at it but the shadows did fascinating things.)

Sometimes I have a blogoversary. (A 4 year one at that!) I was so excited to give away books and celebrate. ‘Twas a blast! ^_^

Sometimes I start getting ready for being an ML (Municipal Liaison) for NaNoWriMo again this year. (‘Twill be my 5th year as an ML and 8th year participated in NaNo. I’m surprised too. What happened to Time, again?)

(Left-to-right: March-June bjournal-the-first, July-September bjournal-the-second, and as-yet-unstarted hopefully-bjournal-the-next. Also known as: whatever the latest journal I found at a library sale was when I needed to start a new bjournal. XD)

Sometimes I finish another bjournal. (Bullet Journal, for those unfamiliar with my bizzare and strangely-Nordic abbreviation.) I’d say “sorry to see you go, Max Out On A Limb” but I’m not actually sorry, because it wasn’t the easiest journal to write in so I’m actually relieved to be finished that one. Time to start the next one… (On my to-do list for today.)

WRITING

pixabay

I took a writing (and blogging) hiatus in August. It was much needed after a very busy July Camp NaNo when I “wrote” 30 hours.

I then proceeded to accidentally take a semi-hiatus from writing for most of September too, because I couldn’t decide what to work on and Life got busy.

Basically, I didn’t do much writing in the last two months. >.> Like… at all.

I did fiddle with a few stories (including Tare’s because he doesn’t ever leave me alone for too long because he’s guilt-trippy considerate like that. ^_^) so it wasn’t a total loss. Hopefully I benefited from the break?

I did, however, after much panicking (see above image. XD), finally decide what I’m writing for NaNoWriMo next month! 😀 *has minor heart-attack at the words “next month” being used to refer to November*

I’m (hopefully) writing The Siren and the Skyship, a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mer(man?) retelling, WHICH I AM RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED ABOUT. I’m sure you’ll hear more about it this month and next, so don’t worry, there will be more on this subject sometime. XD

READING

I read 8 new books, re-read 4 (okay, one was read TO me on audiobook and was so fun!), and read a non-fiction too. Much lovely reading these last two months!

I was particularly excited to re-read The Silmarillion (it had been a few years since I read it last, so this was AMAZING!) and reading the new Beren and Luthien book, which was delightful! ^_^ I’m so pleased to (after far too long) be dipping back into Tolkien! In case anyone’s wondering, The Silmarillion is fabulous and my world from my childhood, and Tolkien’s Beren and Luthien poetry is amazing. ❤

Also The Little White Horse IS AWESOME and everyone needs to read it. And everyone also needs to read “Art and the Bible” if you’re a writer, or want to be a writer, or read, or anything.

I loved pretty much all the rest of the books I read too! 🙂 (Listed below, linked if I reviewed them recently.)

(If you’re interested, links to these books are on my Goodreads challenge page.)

WATCHING

So I watched a lot of things recently, which is rare for me. Maybe since I wasn’t writing?

I’m once again reminded that I don’t actually like to have opinions about movies because then I have to… well have opinions, and movies are my “fun” thing that I don’t do all the time and am not as passionate about as books. So I find I don’t always know what I think of movies, other than generally enjoying them… or something.

Anyway, they included:

  • The Secret of Moonacre — I saw the movie before the book! o.o I know, I’m so horrible. *coughcough* I quite enjoyed it, though I did enjoy the book (The Little White Horse) more once I read it. They’re toootally different, in a way. The film is fun but the book as AMAZING. ❤ (The movie did have Ioan Gruffudd as the grouchy uncle though, so that was fun. XD)
  • Star Trek — The three new Star Trek movies and a few episodes of the Original Series of Star Trek (I had never seen anything Star-Trek-related before; suddenly I’m understanding SO MANY references. I feel enlightened about cultural references now. XD) both of which were rather fun. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan in general? So, not my faaavorite, but I do find myself rather attached to Kirk and Spock and others. *nodnod* Overall, both the new and old versions were quite fun in their way. 🙂 (Yes, I saw the Tribbles; poor Kirk. XD Yes, I liked the timey-wimey stuff in the first new movie. Yes, Benedict CucumberKahn was interesting. Yes, it was weird that New-Kirk’s dad and mom were Thor and Emma Swann.)
  • Tuck Everlasting — Um. Bittersweet? I was bad again and saw it before reading the book (on my list) but it was kind of fun… kind of… except for some of it… I dunno what I think about it. 😛 The idea was neat and I loved the melody thing… Fun-ish. 🙂
  • Spider-Man — I had never seen anything Spidey-ish, other than his cameo in Captain America 3, but this month I managed to see the first two Tobey Maguire films. Pretty fun, though seemingly unnecessarily focused on “let’s make Spidey’s life miserable”. XD Not my faaave, but again, I feel so cultured now. XD
  • Saw Captain America: Civil War again, and Emma (with Pepper Potts and Obi-Wan; shush, I can call it that) again. That Emma film is quite fun, and I’m only in CA:CW for Bucky and Hawkeye and Bucky. *cough* Basically I want a Bucky and Hawkeye and Agent Hill movie. Is that so much to ask?
  • Aaand I started Once Upon a Time. I’ve seen all of 5 episodes so I’m not very far along. XD But, again, I now feel sooo much like I can start “getting” things. XD Quite fun thus far; curious where it’ll go. 🙂
  • I saw some other stuff but those are the highlights. 🙂 Basically, now I Know Things.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Attention, everyone!

There’s going to be a blog tour, coming soon (early November) and it’s going to be cool! It’s going to be… Vintage Jane Austen Week! So if you’re a blogger and want to a) interview some awesome authors, b) read and review some of those awesome Jane Austen retellings set in the 1930s that I’ve been flailing about, or c) share the word with a spotlight post . . . then NOW IS THE TIME. The time to sign up, that is! Which you can do HERE. Otherwise, be watching out for that, because there’ll be cool stuff and a giveaway and it’ll be grand, basically. ^_^ (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can find out more about the series here.)

OCTOBER PLANS

Whew! What a busy couple of months, with much reading and watching and not-writing (whoooops) and a lot of lifely things which don’t seem interesting to report but somehow keep me quite busy outside of said mentioned things.

My upcoming plans include:

  • Starting a new bjournal (because how else can I keep track of all the things I need to do and don’t have time for? *coughcough*).
  • Doing ALL THE NANO PLOTTING AAAAHHH.
  • Freaking out about said NaNo’s approach (shhh, we all do it).
  • Trying to read ALL THE THINGS and review them and basically do a few months’ worth of work and projects BEFORE NANO.
  • Because clearly I’m insane. XD
  • *slumps* Yes, it’s that time of year when I’m trying to clear slates and do EVERYTHING, while trying to plot a novel (oh, I capitalized that as Novel when I first typed it. Feeling important, are we?).
  • Which is only slightly less insane than ACTUALLY trying to write a 50,000 word Novel (I did it again; must be reflexes trying to write November, or NaNo. Or a steampunk story with delusions of grandeur) in a month.
  • But we won’t think about that until November, right? RIIIIGHT???
  • [I lie. I’m going to be thinking about it 24/7 for the next month.] Ahem.

ANYWAY. That’s it for today! Thanks for reading my (dubiously interesting?) rambles about the ishnesseseses (precioussss) of my last one-sixth-of-a-year (goodness, that sounds long, where have I been?) — and have a splendiferous October, friends! It’s Fall and almost NaNo and we don’t know what to do about it, but let’s have a glorious fun mess of a time, shall we? *gives out cupcakes and throws Fall(en?) leaves and NaNo-prep-papers like confetti*

P.S. I may or may not be sharing tidbits about The Siren and the Skyship on Twitter all month for #WIPjoy. And also may or may not be participating in #Drachtober as well. You know, if I have time to keep up with both, which is dubious. XD Also, in regard to Drachtober, Jenelle is having a short story challenge on her blog, so check it out.

P.P.S. Thanks for reading! (Again.)

P.P.P.S. I feel like Gandalf now. This is marvelous. (Never resist the urge to use several postscripts. Embrace your inner Gandalf! And you will never be late! Or something. Because… wizards? *laughs at own joke* …Yeah, okay, I’m done now.)