Junely Ishness + Snippets + Hiatus

Hello, my Roadling friends! *tackle hug for everyone and also cookies*

It seems to be August.

*cue explosion of the world at this shattering news because it really should still be March*

*tries to recover from the tricks Time has been playing on us this year*

Ahem. Anyways. August.

Aaand that means it’s time for another Ishness since it’s been a couple months since I did one. Or rather, it’s been the-long-month-that-starts-with-Ju, namely June/July which for our purposes I’m calling Junely.

Three things for this post:

  • Junely Ishnesses (because you love me and hearing about my oh-so-interesting life)
  • Snippets! (From my impromptu Camp NaNo. Because I love you and am nice like that.)
  • Also, I’m hiatusing. Kinda.

Hiatus

(pinterest)

In brief, July was very busy. I spontaneously did Camp NaNo in July, which I did NOT have time for; plus life was crazy; I’m behind on things like reading and reviewing; the Silmarillion Awards were very busy and bloggy; not to mention I’m recovering from a weeklong sunburn; and I’m just BEHIND and very, very tired.

So! I kind of need a vacation, and the only one I’m going to get is from my self-imposed deadlines etc. like blogging and writing. I’m therefore proposing doing less internet, probably taking a break from blogging here (though I might post reviews on my other blog because I have some of those to catch up on), and taking a writing break.

Essentially, I’m giving myself permission to be online less and hoping to stress myself out less too. So if you see less of me, that will be why.

I’m trying to catch up on a few internet things in the next few days and otherwise cutting back. But I hope to return with some fun blogging topics in September. 🙂 (If not sooner, if I get inspired…) And remember that I’ll probably be reviewing books on the side. Probably.

Onward to the Ishness!

Writing

Not a lot of writerliness happened in June… I wrote about a thousand words (including Other Half of Everything fun!) and kinda-sorta decided on what I might write for NaNo this November… maybe. But otherwise, my writerly life was stalling and it was kind of frustrating. Until just before July hit…

Then I spontaneously signed up for Camp NaNo in July (largely due to Sarah; thank you! XD). THIS WAS NOT PART OF MY PLAN. But I’m glad I did. I decided to try an HOURS goal, which I’d never done and is a new feature. I was going to try 15 hours… buuut apparently they only let you put in a number as low as 30 (probably to figure out their graph algorithms or something), so I had to do that.

I made it, but it was hard. It did allow me to make progress on things besides first-draft words, though. I’M A HUGE ADVOCATE OF HOURLY GOALS NOW.

Here’s what I accomplished for Camp:

The Numbers:

30 hours total

14,468 new words total

  • 7K on 3 short stories
  • 5.5K on KW stuff
  • 300 words OHE
  • 1.5K SilmAwards presentation
  • Edited about 45K worth of words

The Accomplishments:

  • Finished a short story: Invisible Beauty
  • Started The Treasure of A Distant Storm
  • Started The Tangled Thicket of Perilous Perrifeld
  • Wrote SilmAwards Heroine presentation (counting this; essentially fanfiction. XD)
  • Some minor Other Half of Everything snippets
  • Major progress on KW2 for the first time in a long time — finished a chapter that had been giving me major trouble, and started another. SO EXCITED.
  • Snippet of KW3
  • Edited Invisible Beauty
  • Edited above other stuff as I wrote it
  • Went through all my short stories — including IB — and edited them again (eight stories; nearly 35K total). I’d been meaning to do this for awhile.
  • Majorly restructured/re-titled my Starrellian epic fantasy series books — VERY excited!!!!
  • Solved some structural problems for a KW novella — yay!
  • Various plotting on a few other story ideas
  • Indexing some references/notes for KW books and OHE in my writing journals — which I’d been meaning to do for AGES; call it research, since I have oodles of notes spread across several notebooks and needed to find those notes in order to write those stories…

WHEW. I was especially pleased that I could count all those as “official” parts of my writing hours, because many of them are things that were rather time consuming, but I’d been wanting to do, and are equally helpful to my writing as first-draft words are (like major plotting, editing, finding notes). Too often, I only consider ACTUAL words “progress” and sometimes the quality suffers for that. XD The variety also kept it interesting and less overwhelming. I FEEL VERY ACCOMPLISHED AND I’M VERY HAPPY. ^_^ Also exhausted, hence the hiatus, but still happy. 😀

Will share snippets at the end of the post…

Reading

In June, I did ALL THE READING and actually finished my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books this year.

In July, I did much less reading because I was doing ALL THE WRITING.

That said, I read these beauties… (Listed in reverse order)

I love how, on the bottom row, it looks like The Archer is shooting an arrow across a planet — whizz! — and shooting a star out of the sky as a dog (a.k.a. Sirius), and probably landing in that forest where Martin and Elodie are looking for him or something. XD

I so enjoyed nearly all of these! My top faves, however, were Where the Woods Grow Wild, Spellsmith and Carver: Magicians’ Rivalry, and Halayda and The Tomb of the Sea Witch (both of which I intend to review soon). So, so good, all four! ❤

Watching

  • Doctor Strange [2016] — Yes, I finally saw this for the first time! It was… interesting. I loathe hospital scenes on-screen, sooo I wasn’t a fan of a lot of it. *cough* But otherwise, it was quite fun! 🙂 And I loooved the timey things, and the credits-scene with Thor. XD (Also, Holmes from Sherlock and Irene Adler from the Downey Jr. movies. MADE MY DAY.) (Also, also: what’s with Benedict’s non-British accent, though?? THAT’S, LIKE, A CRIME.) (Also, also, also: I want the Cloak of Levitation, please.)
  • Superman Returns [2006] — Very… weird, but kind of enjoyable, I guess? Some classic Superman stuff to educate me about Superman. XD *shrug*
  • Despicable Me [2010] — Very strange, sometimes annoying, sometimes funny and cute. XD
  • Studio C — As per usual. 😛 Matt’s characters are my favorite; he’s hilarious. XD

Blogging Highlights

The biggest thing, of course, for me lately, has been the Silmarillion Awards! Which I had a blast with! 🙂

In the last two months, I also…

And I reviewed these books (click the covers to read the reviews):

             

Life-ing

I finished my first Bullet Journal, or bjournal as I abbreviate it (since it sounds more Nordic and awesome than BuJo; because banjos and I don’t get on) and started a new one.

This one has a cat on the front, captioned (on the back) “Max, Out on a Limb”. The picture is a fairly accurate depiction of how I feel most of the time. XD

This is “Max, Out in a Hurricane”… XD

I went kayaking and had a blast save for said dreadful week-long sunburn, so that was fun. 😛 Going to a lake did provide excellent photoshoot opportunities for The Tomb of the Sea Witch which I was reading that weekend though. 😀

I also did something I hadn’t done in a long time: I drew art! Specifically, fan-art for the Ilyon Chronicles contest. I actually had a lot of fun; I should draw more often.

Jace and his wolf Tyra

(Disclaimer: before anyone bombards me with “YOU’RE READING THE ILYON CHRONICLES? WHADDAYA THINK???”… I read Half-Blood and started Resistance awhile back and haven’t finished it due to life. I HAVE therefore met Jace and Tyra, however I haven’t read an entire one of the “big” books in the series. So don’t ambush me, please. XD)

And now what you’ve been waiting for (maybe)…

SNIPPETS

These are an assortment of snippets from various novels and short stories I was working on during Camp. Enjoy!

The Treasure of A Distant Storm (TOADS for short. XD)

“Hallo, Henley,” he said, almost cautiously. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”

Henley found herself sighing. “Neither did I.”

His suppressed excitement burst forth like a hurricane from a mailbox. “You’ve come back to say you’re sorry!” he exclaimed, in raptures.

Henley rewarded him with a glaring frown. “I. Have. Not. Done anything of the sort,” she said icily.

“Oh.” His face fell, then briefly perked hopefully up again. “You’ve come back to have me say I’m sorry?” he suggested uncertainly.

***

“When I heard you talking it sounded like an argument. Actually like a lovers’ quarrel or . . . ah . . . a . . . er . . . a something . . .” He trailed off as his face turned very white under the glacial stare both other occupants of the room were directing at him. “I’ll just . . . Yeah, I’ll just go.” He vanished and hastily closed the door.

A long Arctic silence built itself like an iceberg between the two occupants of the room.

The Tangled Thicket of Perilous Perrifeld (TTPP for short)

Jenson Hillsong didn’t mind oddness, eccentricity, or tendencies to terrify—much—which was why he had gone to work for Lord Perrifeld as his apprentice.

Lord Perrifeld was not only a prestigious person, he was also an enchanter, and enchanters need apprentices the way large, gnarled, frightening trees need quiet dark shadows.

Jenson rather resembled a quiet dark shadow in his manners and dress, and Perrifeld Manor was up the lane among a great many of such similar large, gnarled, frightening trees, twisting this way and that through the winding fog that drifted through the shadows.

It was just past autumn, and just before winter set on, in the between-time when trees have forgotten their leaves, clouds have not yet remembered the snow, and the air is vaguely considering sending people scurrying for thicker coats soon—but not yet, not yet.

KW2 (“The Secret of Kedran’s Wood”, for the uninitiated)

Up and down some zig-zagging alleys Tare ran, across frozen asphalt with the sound of doomed-to-fall-behind pursuit behind him. Tare knew these streets like the back of his hand; better, since he’d spent more time wandering them than he had staring at his hand (he’d always thought that saying was idiotic; Baz probably loved it).

***

“What happened?”
“Tare happened,” Adrian said curtly.

***

When school got out on Wednesday, marking the official beginning of the official winter holidays, the Chess Club members had to decide what to do with their new-found freedom. At least, the ones who were still in school did, that is—leaving out Adrian, Mr. Larch, and of course Small Occasion; those three were busy with their jobs, namely: working at the mechanic shop, working at the cafe, and being adorably cute at Mr. Larch’s house while pining for Chess Club members to arrive to play with, respectively.

KW3 (I know, I haven’t even finished book 2… *cough*)

“I swear, if I find out there is even one more secret about you—” Baz warned.

Tare looked at the ceiling. “They’re not secrets. They’re just things I haven’t told you about.”

***

Tare grinned wryly. “Be my guest.”

“We are. We are,” Baz replied, glancing around at Tare’s home.

“You walked right into that one,” Ivy said, patting Tare’s shoulder as she walked past.

Tare almost imperceptibly tensed briefly, but remained leaning casually against the wall. “Maybe I meant to.”

“But—that would mean—” Ivy began, then broke off and shook her head, dismissing her thought before she finished.

It was too ridiculous to suppose that Tare would ever purposefully create a pun possibility for Baz.

Wasn’t it?


And there you are. How’s your summer going? Thanks for reading, and I will see you again in September — or sooner! 🙂

My Life’s Tower of Fantasy

Here at the end of all things, Samwise Gamgee the end of the second Silmarillion Awards, wherein we celebrate all things fantasy, Tolkien, and favorite characters, I have a bit to say about these things and their importance to me in my life so far.

So today, the 63rd birthday of The Fellowship of the Ring’s publication, seemed a good time to do so.

*distant cries of “Happy birthday!” and Bilbo saying (un?)complimentary things concerning knowing people half as well as he should like etc.*

*also birthday cake for one and all*

*and 63 still-burning candles to feed to your dragon*

(You’re welcome. I hope he likes wax.)

Warning:

The following is a somewhat lengthy post that is more of an essay than many posts I’ve written (don’t worry, it’s broken into segments with handy headers, so you might survive), and contains such things as Middle-earth, Diana Wynne Jones, Prydain, Stephen Lawhead, epic heroines, tower metaphors, nostalgia of some books/series that have shaped me, and how wonderful and life-changing Fantasy can be.

If this does not sound like your cup of tea, turn around and flee — for here in the realm of Faerie and Fantasy, truths are hidden behind every tree, characters are noble as can be, fancy runs free, and here . . . there be dragons.

On The Silmarillion

This month, using the Silmarillion Awards as a much-needed excuse, as I was re-reading The Silmarillion for the first time in many years, it startled me how much it felt like coming home. I used to read that book (as well as The Lord of the Rings, etc.) a lot when I was younger and just discovering the amazing worlds of Middle-earth. I lived in Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I lived in Beleriand in The Silmarillion too, and in a sense that was more “mine” since fewer people were into it than LOTR. The Silmarillion and surrounding mythology was like my special world that I went to live in, learning to write the Tengwar Elvish alphabet in calligraphy, studying maps, creating family trees of all the characters I knew by name…

It’s been a lovely journey, returning there and meeting these long-lost friends in this place I’ve been absent from far too long. I’m also bringing more to it now at a slightly older age, which has been fascinating. I’m aware The Silmarillion might not be for everyone, but it’s extremely special to me. I met it at a younger age and was so immersed in it that I knew all the names so well that returning was like going home and meeting old friends.

On The Tower of Fantasy

I’ve been thinking about the impact Tolkien’s works and other beloved works of fantasy have had on my life. Looking back, I can trace a few books and series that stand out as those important, life-changing, core-of-your-being books that I believe everyone (or all bookworms, at least) have. Those ones that are so much a part of you that, consciously or unconsciously, you are changed by them and they inform much of who you are and what your life is, your tastes in fiction (and in writing, if you’re a writer like me), and form a core part of your heart. They are different through the years, and that’s how I measure parts of my life (about three or four of them so far, I think) — by what was the most ME books I was reading or loving or living at the time.

Imagine your life is a tower that you are slowly building as the years go on. I see those books as the building blocks of the tower of my own life, the stones of my foundations (or at least, for the purposes of this post, the foundation for my love of fantasy in both reading and writing, which is what I’m here to talk about) that come and go in a way as I gain new interests, so that sometimes it feels like betrayal . . . How could you move on? But I can always go back down the winding stairs of the tower and visit them again, and they’ll always be a part of me. They all inform who I am, and what my reading taste is, and how I think, and what I want to be and do, and most especially (for this writer) what I write as well.

I can see blocks of time in this Fantasy Tower of my life.

Level One: Prydain and MacDonald

It started with George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. I don’t know which were first, I only know, looking back, that they were very early and, I believe, introduced me to Fantasy. Those are at the base of the tower; they were the first, and I read them and was enchanted. I LIVED in those worlds, and I loved those stories and characters so much. I still do, as with all of these. I’m afraid some of my earliest writings bore an uncanny resemblance to both those works, but we all start somewhere, yes? 😉

So, first was my beginning years of loving fantasy, with MacDonald and Prydain. (I believe Narnia came in somewhere around there a little after, and other works of Fantasy, though I don’t know how extreme their influence was.) That’s the first layer of stones at the base of the tower of Fantasy. They’re awhile ago from when I was younger and wasn’t aware of my tower, so it’s a little jumbled and vague, hidden in mists near the ground, and more instinctive than my deeper understanding of the later portions as I grew older, as I look back and remember better.

(Do you know why it’s called “in the mists of time”? Because YOU CAN’T SEE VERY WELL INTO IT. Ahem. Foggy memories… *shakes head*)

Level Two: Tolkien

The next really big thing, which is the largest on the fantasy tower so far, was Tolkien.

I read The Hobbit at one point, and then I later read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten or so, I believe. Some writers (and readers) come to Tolkien first, as their big fantasy introduction, but for me I already had the groundwork of fantasy laid; Tolkien served to strengthen it and built the next part of the tower, and was a focus of mine for many years, my absolute favorite. As I mentioned, I was enchanted and fell in love with these books, and went on to read The Silmarillion (several times), as well as reading any other works, finished or unfinished, by Tolkien that I could get my hands on. But not only were these stories, this world, these characters and languages, epic and beautiful and beloved and some of my favorites of all time, but the author himself simply seemed . . . right.

Tolkien was a kindred soul, and I know that sounds pompous to say, but when I read his letters and thoughts, I find myself agreeing with him and thinking “Oh! Yes! I’m just like that!” on so many levels. He and I just agree so well and have such similar temperaments. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near his level of talent or genius etc., I’m merely saying that he and I click, in a way that no other author that I can currently think of who I’ve run across does.

Tolkien’s works remain the next solid layer of my Fantasy tower, a very large portion of it, and still inform so much of my life and core personality and interests today.

Level Three: Diana Wynne Jones

(also concerning strawberry icecream)

Then, in 2012, I read Howl’s Moving Castle on a highly-trusted recommendation, and discovered Diana Wynne Jones. This is the third layer of my Fantasy tower. As some who read my blogs might have noticed, I’ve been very big on DWJ for awhile now. XD I’m captivated by and addicted to her books, particularly certain ones which have just stuck with me really well. I love her writing style and the humor she always had in her books, and her quirky but charming and lovable characters, and the absolute originality of her fantasy, mashed together with other genres to make her books unpigeonholeable (not a word, but should be), as well as how I always learn things about life and the world and people when I read her works. I’ve seen a bit of an influence on my writing as well, wanting to write more whimsical and amusing things.

It’s funny: when I decided Howl’s Moving Castle shared my top-favorite spot with The Lord of the Rings, and have been very DWJ focused, I didn’t realize (until recently) this thing about the Tower of Fantasy, how I can have different stages and favorites; and because I had just come from the Tolkien stage, I felt disloyal to Middle-earth, as if loving something else as well meant that I was betraying it by not loving ONLY it.

But I’ve realized that we have different stages in our lives, and that’s okay — it doesn’t make the previous stages any LESS important or less a part of you, you’re just on a different part of your journey so different things are more important right now. It’s not a betrayal. It’s growth and continuing and layers over the core.

I’ve always thought of myself as the girl who loves Middle-earth and the color green and Celtic music and chocolate and writes medieval fantasy. That’s still at my core and I will always be that person. But lately, if I’ve been a DWJ person who loves the color blue and dabbles in Christian rock or pop and loves strawberry ice cream and writes contemporary fantasy . . . that doesn’t mean I’m not STILL that same person as before too.

Because I can love both, I can have different layers of favorites, different layers of interests, and it doesn’t mean that blue or green or chocolate or strawberry are better than each other, or that in trying other kinds of books, music, and genres, that I’m abandoning the ones I used to have. I can do all of it, and it can all be me.

This is a slight tangent, but I feel like I need to address it while on the subject of moving through different books that are your favorites at the time. It’s okay to have different favorites at different times in your life, and it’s not being disloyal. I’m saying this partly to remind myself (especially when I feel bad about not having re-read some of these favorites in several years; I still plan to sometime), and partly in case anyone is having problems with it like I have. XD

I still interchange LOTR and Howl’s Moving Castle as my “favorite” books (and let’s be honest, sometimes I put Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal up there because I love it and it’s amazing) but hey, I can have more than one top-favorite, right? 😉

Level Four? (Bright Empires)

It’s always hard to know, while you’re currently on a part of the tower, if something you’re reading is going to be the next part or if it’s just another great fantasy work but not quite a core one. But I think and suspect that, perhaps (time will tell), my latest addition to the Fantasy Tower of my life are Stephen R. Lawhead’s works. I just read his Bright Empires series, and while (like I said) I can’t be sure whether or not they’re the next ring of building blocks for my tower, at the very least, it’s the best series I’ve read in a long time.

Definitely favorites, the Bright Empires books have expanded my mind so much, broadened my horizons, were thoroughly epic, mind-boggling, and fun, with beloved characters, and introduced me to the first heroine in a very long time who I want so hard to be, namely Mina. She inspires me so much. Plus, the books are simply masterpieces. I think very differently after reading these books, I clicked so well with them, and they were absolutely amazing.

Speaking of Mina, let’s talk about heroines for a minute, since the award I hosted was Most Epic Heroine.

Of Heroines

Heroines are hard to write, my friends. One strange thing about my personality is that I rarely come across a favorite female character. I think it’s because I’m a girl and I find that it’s harder for an author to write a girl character that I actually like, because I am one and we’re complicated, and the fictional girls often end up either too tough or too wimpy, neither of which I like. I more often am interested in the male characters, who are generally cooler and doing more interesting things. I do run up against female characters that I like sometimes, and that’s often a sign that the author is a good one.

But there have only been a handful that have stood out as my favorites, the ones who at some level I feel like are ME, and at another level I feel like are what I want to be, what I want to become, what I want to take and emulate because they are noble and good and show some part of humanity that I want to BE. They make me want to be a better person, while I also feel like I am them.

And those are basically:

  • Princess Irene from The Princess and the Goblin
  • Princess Eilonwy from the Chronicles of Prydain
  • Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings
  • Luthien Tinuviel from The Silmarillion
  • Wilhelmina “Mina” Klug from the Bright Empires series.

(I think on some level, I was Lucy from Narnia when I was younger, and many of Diana Wynne Jones’ characters have been instant connections for me, like Sophie and others, as well, though I haven’t thought as much about those for this post; likely because they’re more recent for me but not as mind-blowing as Mina was — who was the character that got me started thinking about all of this — so I haven’t thought them out as much.)

(Also, I find this a good time to mention the dedication in The High King by Lloyd Alexander, which I never understood until now: “For the boys who might have been Taran and the girls who will always be Eilonwy.“)

Of Heroism/Nobility versus Mediocrity/”Realism”

And I think it’s important to have favorite characters one can look up to, have as role models, but still feel you are like them. There’s a sort of connection there that is marvelous. Heroes tend to be more favorites of mine than heroines, and I can learn things from them as well, of course, and they’re simply awesome sometimes, so there’s that; but I can’t exactly BE them, quite the way I can be a heroine like Eilonwy or Mina.

I think these heroines stand out to me partly because it is so rare for me to find a timeless one like that. There are many other noble and wonderful heroines I’ve liked over time, don’t get me wrong! Some even other favorites. But these are my FAVORITE favorites, the ones I want to be like. 🙂

And that’s part of why I’m tired of this “make them relatable and ‘realistic’ by giving them flaws and making them fallen and ordinary” trend in modern writing.

No.

I don’t want mediocre Main Characters. I want Epic Heroines.

If your favorite characters are mediocre, you’ll only want to be mediocre, you’ll only believe that’s how far you can go.

If, on the other hand, your favorite characters are noble and epic and extraordinary, then you’ll want to rise above your ordinary and mediocre, fallen and flawed life, and try to emulate them, to BE them; and these fictional characters who aren’t “real” can change your life and make you a better person. All by being fantastic characters. What’s not to love?

Things These Core Books Have In Common

What do all these books and series have in common? They are Fantasy, yes. But they each hold things that truly resonated with me — not just one thing but all the elements and the whole.

I love the stories. I love the worlds. I love the characters — not only the heroes, not only the heroines, but both, as well as the entire cast of characters, really. They have favorite heroes. I want to be the heroines. I want to live in the books.

“The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

(from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis)

I also “click” with the authors — when I read things that these authors like Alexander, Tolkien, Jones, and Lawhead say (in fiction and nonfiction) I’ve had these wonderful “me too!” moments, those times when, like in the C.S. Lewis quote above, you form a friendship from a shared thought or feeling. We share the same truth. I feel like they’re kindred souls, and suspect that’s one of the reasons I love their fiction so much. (It’s interesting: when I love an author’s fiction work enough to try out their nonfiction, that’s when I discover my favorite works of nonfiction, essays, etc. It’s happened so many times with these and a couple other authors.)

And I learned things from these favorite, core books. Yes, shocking as it may sound to some, these fiction books, these works of *gasp* fantasy, have taught me so many things that, as I think about it, my mind boggles and I can’t even begin to explain all the things I’ve learned from these wonderful works of literature and art. (I did do a post about a few of those things, awhile back, but that was only scratching the surface.)

Because fantasy is true. These things may not have happened in our world, but they have Truth, and I learn things far better when they’re woven into a tale (a parable, perhaps?) than I can reading some boring textbook. I can see the things unfolding and understand things about the characters and wonder about things and want to learn about them. Fantasy may not always teach “facts” like how big the sun is or how many threes make a dozen (though they might teach that too), but they teach me real things about life and about love and about how people work and how to surmount obstacles and to try to be a better person like my heroes (and heroines).

I don’t know if these fantasy authors try to put these things in their works (I know I certainly don’t, but sometimes things creep in somehow), or if they simply are trying to tell a good story and their worldviews are shining through the particular leaf of the Tree of Tales that they are telling and coming out as good wholesome lessons from the Writer of all Lives, but regardless, I’ve found so much Truth in these and other works of fantasy.

And all of that as a bonus to reading simply amazing fantastical stories about fabulous characters in imaginative worlds. What is not to love? Who would have thought it, but Fantasy is fantastic in all meanings of that word, and that is why I love it as I do.

Plus, I mean, Fantasy has dragons. And there’s the icing on the cake.

*passes around the last of the LOTR birthday celebration cake and breaks out Gandalf’s fireworks to celebrate Middle-earth and Fantasy with a literal bang*

(P.S.: If you have a Fantasy/LOTR themed post this week, feel free to share the link in the linky over on Jenelle’s post!)

Most Epic Heroine Silmaril Award Presentation #SilmAwards2017

The time has come at last, and you’re so excited to be attending the Most Epic Heroine Award Ceremony. You hurry to a door and knock quickly, hoping you’re not too late; the woods of Ithilien left you a little lost and you had to ask the way from a Gondorian guard.

The sun has just set, leaving the world in a twilight of stars, which is when the award presentation was supposed to take place. Hopefully you’re not going to miss it!

Light floods outside across you as the door is pulled open by a tall man with raven hair and keen grey eyes in a kind face.

“Am I on time?” you ask anxiously.

The man smiles. “We were only now about to begin. Enter, friend, and be welcome.”

He guides you into a courtyard edged with pillars of white stone, full of flowering trees and shrubs and many herbs, a breathtaking haven of a garden, lit with many bright lanterns as though the stars themselves were hung in the trees.

The courtyard is currently filled with a crowd of eager people staring at a dais at one end of the open, tree-filled place. You sigh in relief that you’re not late, and join the crowd, waiting expectantly.

The man who let you in mounts the steps to the well-lit dais and stands by a pedestal hung with a black cloth with a silver tree on it, which has an object sitting atop, covered by a gold-embroidered green cloth. A small mound of flowers lies over all.

“Welcome to our home in Ithilien,” the dark-haired man says, smiling. (You suddenly realize that it’s Faramir—the Steward of Gondor himself let you into his house!) “I will be brief, as this is not my day, but another’s. May I present the White Lady of Rohan, Princess of Ithilien, the shieldmaiden and healer Eowyn, who will be presenting today’s Most Epic Heroine award—and I, for one, believe her to be quite qualified to do so,” he adds with a quirking of the corner of his mouth.

The crowd laughs.

Faramir steps down from the dais to join the rest of the people, and smiles as he passes the lady mounting the steps, who goes to stand by a pedestal on the platform.

Eowyn turns. She is fair of face as she smiles down at the audience; her hair is like a river of gold, and she is clad in white, with a midnight-blue cloak with stars around the hem and neck. The audience applauds.

“Greetings, fair friends,” Eowyn begins, as the crowd falls silent in a hush of intent listening. “I bid you all welcome to the Award Presentation for the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril, which I am here to present. I do not know if I am qualified as such, although certain biased parties might say otherwise . . .”

The audience laughs again, applauding.

Eowyn laughs then too, merrily, like a tinkling waterfall. Then she continues. “But someone must, so I will gladly do this duty. I have here with me five heroines.” Eowyn gestures to one end of the dais-stage, where five figures stand among the pillars and trees to one side. “All of them are doubtless worthy heroines, but today, one of them will be announced as the most worthy of receiving this honor, as chosen by the will of the people here gathered.”

Eowyn turns toward the five heroines and beckons one forward. “In third place we have Cress of The Lunar Chronicles.”

Cress, a short, spunky young woman with an unruly mess of wavy blonde hair and a dash of freckles across her face, moves to the center of the platform. Eowyn takes a bouquet of white flowers from the pedestal and hands them to her. Cress accepts them, waves half shyly, half cheerily at the crowd (from which there are some cheers and a spattering of applause) and troops across the stage to the other side.

“Tying for second place,” Eowyn continues, “we have three heroines: Kyrin of The Ilyon Chronicles, Cinder of The Lunar Chronicles again, and Rose Red of The Tales of Goldstone Wood.”

At her name, Kyrin, a tall young woman with brown hair and grey-blue eyes, comes forward and takes her flowers. She smiles her thanks at Eowyn and at the applauding audience, her gaze sweeping each as if storing them away in her memory, and returns to her former place by the side pillars.

Next, Cinder, a thin, casually dressed young woman with straight brown hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, who may or may not be holding a wrench, crosses the stage, takes the flowers with awkward thanks, to the sound of clapping, and quickly crosses to the other side of the platform to stand by Cress. They put their heads together, chatting quietly.

There seems to be some difficulty with the fourth person, who has a slight frame all covered in somewhat dirty white veils so that not an inch of her can be seen. She seems reluctant to come out of the shadows, and appears to be having a hushed argument with the goat calmly chewing its cud next to her.

“I don’t want to be goin’ out there in front of so many people. I cain’t—” the girl in veils says.

There seems to be another voice—from the goat? But that couldn’t be . . . “Of course you can, child. Go on out just for a moment and have done with it.”

The veiled girl, Rose Red, crosses the stage and Eowyn hands her a bunch of red roses like her name. There is a lot of applause. Rosie mumbles her thanks to Eowyn and returns to her place by the pillars with Kyrin and the goat. The goat starts chewing on the roses.

“Don’t, Beana, you’ll be sick,” Rosie is heard to mutter.

“Bah,” scoffs the goat.

“And now,” Eowyn announces in a clear ringing tone, “last of all, in first place, we have the long-awaited winner of the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril. May I present:

Lucy Pevensie, Queen Lucy the Valiant, of the land of Narnia.”

The courtyard erupts into thunderous applause and cheering as a girl comes laughing out of the shadows and crosses on light feet to the center of the platform.

She is merry of face, a light of joy about her as she seems to be drinking in the beauty of the place, of the garden courtyard under the stars. From her shoulder is slung a bottle that looks like it is made of diamond, and at her side is a gleaming dagger. She moves to stand by Eowyn.

“Welcome, Queen Lucy,” Eowyn says. “I am told that you too are a healer and shieldmaiden as the circumstances require; that you are brave and kind, valiant and loving, and have the heart of a lion. May I present to you the title of Most Epic Heroine and this Silmaril.”

Eowyn sweeps aside the green and gold cloth and holds up the Silmaril for a moment for the gasping crowd to see, its beauty breathtaking, the lavender glow shining brilliantly across the fair faces and hair of both heroines on the dais.

Eowyn passes it to Lucy.

“Oh, thank you!” Lucy says. “It’s a great honor, I’m sure, though I don’t deserve it really; I’m sure there are others who should deserve it more, and I only did what I had to do . . .”

Eowyn smiles and says, “As a wise Lion once said: if you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.”

“I suppose that has to be true, when He said it; it’s just hard to apply it to oneself, you know . . .” Lucy says. “Well, thank you—all of you,” she adds, bowing a little to the audience. “I’ll try to be worthy of the title, and I’m very grateful I’m sure.” She smiles and waves. “I hope you’ll all try to be heroes and heroines too.”

The applause is deafening.

“Thank you all for coming,” Eowyn says when it dies away a little. “And now, friends, the hour has come—away! To the feast in the hall which is awaiting us during this time of celebration. Queen Lucy, if you will lead the way?”

The crowd cheers and streams under the stars after Eowyn and the laughing Lucy who goes first, shining the glow of her Silmaril to light the way.

POSTSCRIPT:
A NOTE FROM DEBORAH

There you have it, everyone! Congratulations to Lucy, and thanks very much to Eowyn for presenting. 🙂

For those curious, here are the results:

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia 54%
Kyrin Altair from The Ilyon Chronicles 14%
Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles 14%
Rose Red from The Tales of Goldstone Wood 14%
Cress from The Lunar Chronicles 4%

Next up will be the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril over at E. E. Rawls—I’m excited to find out the winner of that and the remaining awards!

And if you come back here on July 29, I have a special post about fantasy literature I can’t wait to share with you all. ^_^

Thanks so much for reading, everyone, and for being a part of the Silmarillion Awards! 🙂

Writer Ups & Downs

It’s a funny thing: it seems the writers’ life consists mostly of ups and downs.

I mean, there’s all these times when we’re either SUPER EXCITED about writing and just so energized, and other times when we’re super down about it and think our writing is worthless etc. etc.

One moment we are all:

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

And the next:

Quoth the raven: Nevermore.

Our writer lives are a series of mountains and valleys. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It seems that there’s not an even road, where we are just quietly content in where we are in our writing, things going smoothly but not exciting (because if it’s going smoothly, that IS exciting), or just generally “meh, it’s okay” (because thinking that rockets one quickly to: “there must be something wrong with it if I’m feeling that way about it!” which turns to super down), and it’s all extremes.

(I’m generalizing, and if you’re not this way, then just ignore everything I said. XD)

But I suppose it makes sense, since writers are primarily storytellers, and in a story, things mostly ARE extremes. It’s either enormously happy for our heroes or super-super-enormously, extravagantly bad for our heroes. (Usually the latter; being a book character is a poor career choice, let me tell you. XD) Because in a story, if it was just meandering along a flat place where things were okay or all right, then… there wouldn’t be much of a story.

Perhaps we writers are attuned to that (and are also dramatic souls *cough* *guilty*) and tend to take it in extreme emotions one way or the other.

I’m not saying this is good or bad. XD I’ve just been thinking about it. 🙂 (Again, if you’re not this way, forgive my ramblings and let me know otherwise. :P)

I’ve been going through some writer ups and downs this year myself.

I’ve been writing short stories, which means I’ve been finishing things! But that also means I haven’t been making progress on novels.

I’ve been writing in small dashes of this-and-that, not focusing on any one thing, which means I haven’t made any serious progress on ANYTHING. But I HAVE somehow amassed about 20,000 words of writing this year!

I’ve had some great “clicking” moments that have resulted in excitement over various stories! But I’ve also not been excited enough about one thing to focus on it.

I’ve been writing in snippets, so I haven’t made consistent progress. But I’ve been using Scrivener and that has helped with my snippet tendencies and I’m getting fun inspired scenes down!

I’ve (hopefully) decided what to write for NaNo and gotten super excited about it! But NaNo is 4 months away. (That’s both good and bad. XD)

I’ve written three short stories this year, which total 14,700 words (Wintertale, A Tale of Two Boxes, and a Kedran’s Wood “fanfiction” that will never see publication but was fun to get me back into the series). I’m 2000 words into another short story, Invisible Beauty, and almost finished. I’ve written at least a thousand words of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood a.k.a. KW2 (I haven’t been keeping very good track, just trying to get further since I’ve been stuck) and a snatch of KW3. I’ve written 1700 words of snippets of The Other Half of Everything. And a couple lines of random other things. Plus various plotting I’ve done.

In a way, it’s not very much for six months. In another way, it’s far better than I was doing this time last year during my huge burnout!

Plus, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading and reviewing, getting my story-and-writing-fix that way.

I’m at the point where I have decisions to make of which paths to take as I wander these mountains and valleys of my writing… and these decisions, too, are huge opposite decisions, in keeping with the ups-and-downs-extremes theme of this post. XD

I either need to get seriously back into writing soon, OR take a serious break in order to recharge.

I either need to buckle down and decide that I will focus on one specific story and pick it and stick to it, OR embrace my work-on-multiple-things-at-once thing I’ve been doing slightly and make it work for me.

I either need to start writing in order again and focus on getting things done that way, OR I need to embrace my scribble-snippets-out-of-order-all-over-the-place thing I’ve been doing and make that work for me too. (Scrivener might help. But it’s hard to sew the quilt-pieces together once I’ve made them, so… I don’t know.)

I also need to remember tips that I’ve learned in the past that I don’t always remember to put into practice, such as:

  • Draft zero. This is a huge friend of mine, or at least has been in the past, and it could really help me if I’d remember to use it.
  • Timers and wordsprints. Especially the awesome wordsprint timer on the NaNo site. This is also super helpful for if I want to write something and just don’t have the motivation. I’ve only used it for NaNo and Camp so far, but the amount of progress that can happen in 15-or-20 minutes with this thing is astounding, so I should probably go for it again sometime.
  • Music. I know music can be super inspiring and get me in the grove, but I just don’t remember to listen to it much. (It doesn’t help that the speakers on my laptop are shot, so I have to remember to use earbuds, and I just don’t.)
  • A time to focus. I don’t write when I can’t focus, which means I just don’t have a time for it in my life right now. I need to set aside a time every day, or at least occasionally, to block out distractions and just open my Scrivener documents and at least TRY. Normally those times come at night and I’m either too tired, or I decide to read or write a review instead. Problems. 😛

Anyway. There’s a bit of a ramble on what’s up with my writing life of late, and its ups and downs, and partially just to remind myself of some things I should know. (Does that ever happen to you?) Writing is how I understand things in my life, so writing this out helped show me where I am, which is helpful. 😉

I’m going to leave you with a scribble of poetry that was meandering around my head at 2 a.m. when I was trying to sleep but instead thinking about all these things.

Writer ups and writer downs
We will don our paper crowns
Take up our most loyal pens
Find out where the story ends

Thanks for reading! ^_^

Spring Ishness! {2017}

[Note: Apologies if you got this twice and/or if the link didn’t work! I accidentally posted it wrong and therefore deleted it… so it might have been wonky. >.> SO SORRY. Let this be a lesson to look at things more carefully before posting…]

Half-March, April, May (2017)

Time for my second Ishness of the year! (Yes, these have been less than regular, of late. XD)

Last time, I talked about the first two and a half months of 2017, so this time I’m talking about what I’ve been doing since then, in April and May and part of March. How time flies! *still in shock that it’s JUNE*

This… may be a little long. >.> I hope you’ll forgive me. XD (But really, I usually take nearly this long to talk about just one month, so doing two and a half all at once might even be more efficient. XD)

WRITING ISH

As you probably know, I did Camp NaNo in April! ‘Twas super fun! 😀

I wrote a total of 12,085 words for Camp, which is not bad, considering my original goal was 5K.

I worked on a few short stories for that, including A Tale of Two Boxes.

I’m calling Camp NaNo April 2017 a great success. 🙂

I slacked a bit on the writing front in May after all the Camp NaNo writing; I only wrote six-or-seven-hundread words, but I have been doing some plotting for my Kedran’s Wood series, Starrellian series, and The Siren and the Skyship. I also did #WIPjoy (on Twitter) in April for the 5-year anniversary of The Owl of Kedran’s Wood. I had so much fun playing around in that world for that and my anniversary post! ^_^

These days, I’m scribbling snatches of KW2, The Other Half of Everything, and a short story I’m writing that started as a dare, continued through Camp, and which I hope to finish sometime soon; it’s a fairytale-esque short story called Invisible Beauty.

So it’s slow, but I’m still poking along in my writerly pursuits! I currently am having a hard time pinning myself down to focus on one thing at a time. I’m a slitherer-outer like Howl, and not proud of it. *cough* If I would just tackle one project, I might actually get stuff done! *sigh* But I also need to work on making sitting-down-to-write into a habit, because I’ve slacked on that in the last couple of years.

In other news, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE SCRIVENER! ❤ Ahem. I guess you probably knew that, but it needed repeating. *cough*

SNIPPETS ISH

With semi-amusing commentaries about them from moi.

[I’m not posting snippets of A Tale of Two Boxes, since you can read the whole thing HERE. :P]

The sun sank relentlessly toward the horizon, staining the path and sky and grey stone castle with urgent shades of red.

Invisible Beauty

[Time-limits are fun. The sun setting is a bad thing here, in case you can’t tell…]

***

In a last desperate rush, she pounded down a long winding staircase into the depths of the castle dungeon, and there at last she found the sorrowful prince—chained in his own keep.

Invisible Beauty

[I’m currently stuck there. Great place to stop, no? ;)]

***

But, I reasoned, it wasn’t the end of the world. It could be worse. Teague could have been an axe-murderer instead of just a writer. I’d live with it. I’d have to.

The Other Half of Everything

[Because only Meridian would compare writers to axe-murderers. -_-]

***

“I’m through playing games,” Tare growled. “What do you want?”

“Well, being able to talk with you is a start. You’re a hard one to find, Tare.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood

[Because if there’s one thing Tare doesn’t like, it’s being found. Because that normally entails someone looking for him. Which is almost never good…]

READING ISH

I think I read about 16 books since my last Ishness, before June hit?

Notable books read:

  • Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones, which is my favorite book so far this year.
  • Well, The Fatal Tree by Stephen R. Lawhead might tie for that spot, actually. O_O (NEW FAVORITE SERIES. ❤ Seriously, just read them, people. Book one is The Skin Map. Go. I can wait…)
  • Other masterpieces include Sentinel by Jamie Foley (SO MUCH FUN) and The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Schultz (SO FUNNY, and Beauty and the Beast retelling and just hilarious).

But really, they’re nearly all “notable”. I’ve enjoyed almost all of these, SO MUCH. ^_^ Much good reading of late!

I should do a reading roundup for this year… Maybe I’ll do a half-way-point post on my book blog in early July, rounding up my reading so far with brief thoughts? Sound like a good idea? If anyone’s interested…

WATCHING ISH

I actually haven’t been watching many new-to-me movies of note, lately. Who has time for movies when there are SO MANY EPIC BOOKS TO READ?? But I did see a couple of interest…

  • Shipwrecked — One of my earliest childhood memories of movies; I think it’s been living subconsciously in my mind and kind of defined epic when I was little. It was amazing to see it again and see how similar and how different it was than I remembered! (Like how the characters are SO YOUNG but when I was little I assumed they were practically grown-up, like… like… old TEENAGERS or something. XD …And now even teenagers, of which I was one not so long ago, seem young. Time is strange.)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Pirates 5) — More nauticalness! Yes, I went and saw this at the theater. Some of it was a mess, but as long as one ignored that, overall it was better than I thought it would be, and I basically had a blast. XD (Not the after-credits scene though. NO. JUST NO. O____O) But much funny, and it was fun to be back with some old character friends. 🙂 And and and I WAS SO EXCITED ABOUT CERTAIN THINGS AND JUST YES. It’s about Will and Elizabeth’s son and he’s trying to break Will’s curse and just alskdjlfkj all the adorbz oh my word. ❤ Not a perfect movie, but overall fun and I’m glad I did get to see it. 🙂
  • Man of Steel — Yep, I FINALLY saw this. I know it came out ages ago, but… *shrug* It’s actually my first Superman movie? Somehow I just haven’t ever watched one. (Too busy with Batman and Marvel movies, I suppose?) Not my favorite, but overall it was pretty fun and I… guess I really enjoyed it. 🙂 (And of COURSE Superman’s dad was the Gladiator…)
  • Studio C — Mainly, if I have time to watch something and am not reading instead, I’ve been watching Studio C. Because yes, I finally got addicted to them. XD I’d heard them mentioned by many friends before, but didn’t really know much about them and hadn’t ever watched any, but I recently got absolutely hooked and from time to time disappear in the black hole of hilarity that is Sudio C and their addictingness. XD

LISTENING ISH

  • Lindsey Sterling. Because all the gorgeous.
  • Also Cara Dillon because pretty voice.
  • And my 2016 NaNo playlist somehow resurfaced so I’ve been listening to The News Boys and Skillet etc., which is making me think of my story The Library and the Stars and… yeah.

BLOGGING ISH

Blogging has been somewhat tricky sometimes, due to less-than-stable internet. >.>

I recently (and currently) have extremely unreliable internet, which loves to go out for days at a time seemingly for a lark. -_-

But I do what I can!

Here are my latest posts, in case you missed them; and/or just for my own personal reference of what I’ve posted lately. XD (Feel free to skip this bit!)

Posts on The Page Dreamer in the last two and a half months (in reverse order):

Posts around here in the last 2 and a half months (also in reverse order):

LIFE ISH

I don’t even know why I put this category here because I really don’t do anything interesting that can’t fall under most of the other categories. XD

I started a bullet-journal around when I posted my last Ishness (I know I had mentioned it) and it’s… almost full already? O_O Ahem. So I’ll probably have to find a new one come July. The past couple of months have been an interesting experiment in streamlining my to-do list processes. It’s very similar to what I used to do, just slightly tweaked. BUT I LOVE IT AND IT’S GREAT. I mean, it makes me realize how behind I am and how I always bite off more than I can chew, but at least it’s all tidily listed. 😀 Hee. It’s been my constant companion and SO helpful. And I’m so glad I decided not to try to make it fancy because who even has time for that. IT’S JUST LISTS, PRETTY MUCH. Which makes me happy. 😛

I’ve also been to a couple of writer workshops, which were interesting; got to see a visiting dear friend which absolutely made my year; went to a library sale; went kayaking and got an atrocious sunburn but had so much fun. That’s mostly it in the excitement category.

And just… life, ya know? 🙂

SUMMER PLANS ISH

Somehow, June has begun (WHAT?? Help me out here. Time is insane and definitely up to something mischeivous) and so begins the long double-month of June-and-July. We should just call it Junely and be done with it. 61 days of a long, hot, summer month that starts with Ju and I therefore mix up.

As for my plans during Junely and August-ish perhaps… well. Let’s see.

  • Reading/Reviewing: I have much reading and much reviewing to do… Kind of behind on that. *eyes stack of books I need to review soonish and twitches* I review slower than I read, and therefore I must do some catching up. XD
  • Blogging: Posts you might see around here and my other blog are mostly… erm… reviews? *surprise* (Sorry, I’ve just been reading SO MANY good books that need reviewing. XD) I might throw a couple of other ideas in there as well. And I’m going to be part of something very exciting, blog-wise, come July, so stay tuned! 😀 I think y’all are going to be pretty excited about it. 😉 Haven’t thought ahead to August blogging yet (good grief, let’s keep it down to a sane two-month plan of blogging. *cough*).
  • Writing: Just for the record, I currently do not intend to do JuNo (June NaNo) or Camp NaNo in July. Just… I probably won’t. (Don’t quote me on it though, in case the lure of cabins and stats-graphs is too much for me.) I do, however, hope to work on writing, regardless. We’ll see if anything happens. I have tentative plans. Fingers crossed that I can do something about them. I DO WANT TO WRITE AGAIN.

So yes, the usual things are up for the summer. Reading, writing, etc. I don’t have plans (at the moment) for anything exciting or vacationy. (I’m not going to Realm Makers, for instance. *sobbing like an octopus trying to find matching shoes*)

Basically, I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY PLANS ARE BECAUSE I’M AN INDECISIVE OTTER WHO JUST WANTS TO PLAY WITH THE LATEST SHINY THING AND THEN FLIT ON TO THE NEXT ONE. I don’t do decisions or plans. Ahem.

(Why did I call it summer plans, then? Shush, do not ask me this.)

FIN (ISH)

SO. There you have an update on what this writer has been doing of late!

I’m kind of in shock at how far into the year we are, but at the same time I feel like I’ve been very busy, so. I guess that’s good?

I can’t imagine why people would like hearing about what’s up with me, but sometimes I hear ’tis so, hence I hope this was at least a little interesting!

What do you think? What’s been up with you, my dearest Roadlings? Any summer plans? Thanks for reading! 🙂