Steampunk + Roses + Beauty & the Beast (The Rose and the Balloon Review)

Cover5_storyThe Rose and the Balloon

A Beauty and the Beast Story

(Once Upon a Twist Tales, #1)

by Kirsten Fichter

YA / Fairy Tale Retelling / Steampunk / Novella / Beauty and the Beast

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author — many thanks! — in return for my honest review, and these opinions are entirely my own.

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The instant I saw that this novella was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Fairytale retellings are my favorite, and Beauty and the Beast… with hot air balloons? Now this I had to try!

I was delighted to have the chance to read it for review, and I’m glad to report: I. LOVED. IT. I can’t think of a single thing I disliked about it! This novella was a simply marvelous quick read which I so enjoyed. ❤

The story and writing were charmingly witty, crisp and fast-paced, yet flowing with an easy, natural feeling, so that it did not seem too quick at all. It was adventurous, amusing, and alternated between fun and an elegant sort of fairytale feel, all mixed in with the delightful chaos of characters with minds of their own who take the story and sweep the reader along on a wonderfully fun ride.

There was a strong theme of love and of family, which I absolutely ADORED. There don’t seem to be many books with a focus on family, so this one was so nice to read. 🙂 Yes, they’re slightly disjointed families and have a lot to overcome, but you can tell they love each other all the same. ^_^ Janelle and her father, and Dmitri and his mother and twin siblings. Just… really well-written relationships, even in the short amount of pages. The bit of romance in there was so enjoyable too — I always love me a good Beauty and the Beast tale. 😉

The setting and “feel” of the story were great. There’s a light dusting of steampunk (mostly hot air balloons — yay!), and it seemed like a pseudo-historical setting (no magic), which was so well-drawn I felt it must be real; and yet still held the classic sort of fairytale feel I love. (Can I just go live in the castle, specifically the library, please??)

The characters were marvelous! Prince Dmitri was the absolute BEST! I loved him. A great hero, who I was rooting for the whole time, and loved reading about. ❤ Janelle and Dmitri are both fiery whirlwinds, and when they collide — boy, is it a storm to remember! Several storms, throughout… XD I just LOVED their bickering and conversations — it was all gold and really made the book spark. I JUST LOVED THEM TOGETHER SO MUCH. ^_^ And then the twins! They were fantastic! 😀 Princess Nicoline and Prince Nicolas were SO much fun to read about! Their antics were a blast and I loved their prank wars. XD Even “Crazy Maeva” (a.k.a. the queen) and Lord Roux (Janelle’s father, who was an excellently written character, I felt) and the other side characters, were all well painted and so vivid. Overall a great cast, and one I would love to read more about! (I also loved their names. :D)

There were nods to the Disney film version of Beauty and the Beast, and the retelling itself was fun in this little book — fairly subtle but still there, despite the lack of fantasy elements. It’s new and yet still recognizably Beauty and the Beast in some way, and I loved it. ^_^ Also, the role of all the roses in the story was fabulous! ALL THE ROSES. I loved that. 😀

I might have wished it was longer, simply because I didn’t want to leave these characters! I could have spent ages with them. ❤ But really it’s the perfect bite-sized enjoyable length to devour in a sitting or two, so I can’t really complain about that either. 🙂 No complaints! It was just perfect. ^_^ *hugs book*

All in all, it was a delightful little bite-sized retelling, suitable for all ages, with memorable characters and an airballoon full of fun. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read more from this talented new author!

About the Book

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In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn’t even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father’s rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there’s a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father’s beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you’ve never seen it before.

The Rose and the Balloon released August, 2016.

Find it online:

Amazon | Createspace | Goodreads


About Kirsten Fichter

AuthorPic1Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

You can find her online at her blog (Lianne Taimenlore), Twitter: @KiriLiz, and on Goodreads.

Don’t you think Beauty and the Beast and Steampunk is an excellent combination? Are you curious about it? *wriggles eyebrows* Maybe you’d like to give this novella a try! (What am I saying; of course you do, because it’s AWESOME and we all need more awesome in our lives. *nods sagely*)

Also! Do you have a favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling?? TELL, TELL! 😀

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

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As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. XD I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

***

You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. XD Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

Into the Silver Forest (Beautiful Books)

Well, NaNo’s just around the corner (lessthan3weeksohmygoodness *hyperventilates*), and the Beautiful People hosts, Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In are being considerate enough to hold instead a BEAUTIFUL BOOKS post this month… WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT TIMING. So methinks it’s about time for me to introduce my NaNo novel!

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(Go join the link-up, do!)

1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’d had an idea for a long time that I wanted to maybe write a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses someday, since it’s my favorite fairy tale and I’m sort of on a quest to read all the retellings of it I can find. But I didn’t get the idea for this particular version of a retelling until February 17, 2014 (yes, it’s less than two years old! *pets baby plot bunny*) and the idea was actually from a DREAM. That’s how it started, anyway. It’s kind of expanded a bunch since then…

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

I am not excited to write it. Nope. Not at all. You know why? Because I am SUPER excited!!! Because it’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and in case you haven’t noticed, it being my favorite fairy tale and me loving retellings as I do, and all… I’m kind of SUPER SUPER excited. It’s going to be a challenge, because I DO love it so much, so I want to do it justice but also do my own spin on it; and there’s also the fact that there are twelve princesses who must be differentiated, not to mention about the same number of fellows, a few romances to follow and keep track of, and several different story threads that I hope will weave together enough to make something plot-like. BUT IT’S BASICALLY GOING TO BE AWESOME.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?

My novel is a retelling, as I continue to stress, but I will tell you more about it now since you’re so kind as to ask. 😉

Without further ado, meet my 2015 NaNo novel . . .

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(Disclaimer: yes, I made this cover; no, I don’t own either of the pictures I used, and found them on Pinterest.com. No copyright infringement is intended and this “cover” is just for fun.)

The Silver Forest

Escaping an unwelcome suitor, Princess Silver and her eleven younger sisters find a way into Faerie, despite the dying curse of a bitter king which casts a shadow between the realms of human and Fae. Then Princess Sapphire finds her heart captivated by a disinherited prince on the run, who was grudgingly saved by a reckless soldier–the same one Princess Emerald finds in a ditch when she’s out riding and brings home.

That’s only the beginning. Kingdoms are falling one by one, bringing an onslaught of royal refugees seeking shelter in the last undefeated castle, and some wish to court the princesses whose home they find themselves in–from the twin kings of the far North to the enigmatic young gardener who most interests the curious youngest princess. To get away from the stifling tension of a castle filled with the looming threat of war, not to mention suiters royal and otherwise, the princesses nightly visit the beautiful realm of Faerie.

Princess Silver is increasingly drawn by the mystery wreathing the brooding Fae Prince who wanders the silver forest on the boarder of Faerie, haunted by a curse slowly tightening its noose around him. If the twelve princesses can’t unravel the interconnected threads surrounding them and find the right answers, the realms of human and Fae alike may face the same horrible fate.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

The twelve princesses first. I don’t have “faces” for them, but since each of their names is a different color of gem etc., and they tend to wear the color in their name — helpful for parents and peasants and readers alike to tell princesses apart — I gathered pictures of the sorts of colored dresses they wear. (Not to mention that this was a FABULOUS excuse to scroll around Pinterest for hours looking at gorgeous medieval gowns. ;))

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PRINCESSES:

Silver = leader. Amethyst = gentle. Turquoise = devious. Ebony = reclusive.

Emerald = spirited. Sapphire = anchor.  Ruby & Auburn (the twins) = mischievous.

Ivory = timid. Goldie = bookish. Rosie = funloving. Peach = inquisitive.

FELLAS:

Prince Taghdach (half-fae) = tormented.

Niog (gardener lad) = enigmatic.

Kern (soldier) = reckless.

Prince Finnigan = selfless.

Prince Cothrom = snobbish.

Rory (thief/con) = devious (whoa; he and Turquoise should get together. 😛 ).

5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!

Honestly, I’m excited about ALL of them, including a few I didn’t mention. This is going to be one of the funnest (not to mention largest) casts of characters I’ve ever dealt with! That being said, I’m really looking forward to writing the devious ones. And I think Kern, Niog, and Finn are going to be super awesome to write.

But… yes, Taghdach. My half-fae Prince Tagg. ❤ (I’m sliiightly addicted to T names as you may have noticed. >.>) He’s probably going to be my favorite to write. He’s nephew to the Fae-king, and his own parents are… well… spoilers. 😉 But he lives in the silver forest at the edge of Faerie and he has a haunted past and uncertain future. Plus he’s kind of dying. So yeah. There’s that. 😛 Huzzah for mysterious fairytale curses which make stories so interesting!

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

…Which one? O_O Seriously, I have so many characters who might be considered the “protagonist”. But… okay, we’ll go with Silver for now. Because if it’s mostly about anyone, it’s probably mostly about her and Taghdach.

Silver wants to look after her sisters, which currently includes keeping annoying suitors at bay… which is a little difficult since the suitors are LIVING there. So that’s where the visits to Faerie come in. Her developing goal in the book becomes to try to unravel Taghdach’s problems and how they’re related to an old curse and the kingdoms falling (which would help with getting rid of the suitors…).

What stands in the way includes the fact that curses don’t like to be broken (especially ones made by very angry very evil kings on their deathbed), the fact that Taghdach isn’t one to open up and might not welcome the help of a parcel of princesses, and of course all those suitors, some of whom are up to no good, and the fact that the kingdom may shortly be attacked. Yay.

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)

In a faaaantasy world! (Surprise, surprise.) It’s set mostly in a castle in the human world, and also a lot in the silver forest etc. of the Fae world.

SFcastlesilverforest(pinterest)castleblossoms

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?

The princesses’ relationships with each other. Which are fascinating, by the way. But they’re a fairly close-knit sister package. *nod nod* I’m also throwing in several romances, so those are important relationships. 😉 Also the king and queen, parents of the princesses, are important to them.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Again, I wail: Which ONE? I don’t know yet. I’m going to write the thing and I just figure that while I’m writing it they’ll all change over the course of the book… and will never be the same again. Mwahaha! Hopefully they’ll all (most?) be better people. *shrug*

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

Good versus evil. Love (both family and romantic). Heroism. The ability to change for the better and go beyond oneself to do good. …Fairy tale retelling. (That can be a theme! Honest!)

I want people to come away feeling like they read a good story, a good retelling, and fell in love with the characters and entering a new world. Basically I want it to be a good book and for readers to feel the same way. 😉

11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

  1. Don’t go in blind. Know what you’re going to write and figure it out. (And if you’re a pantser, not a plotter, at least KNOW that you are.)
  2. Wordwars. I can’t stress these enough. Even if it’s just wordwarring yourself with a timer, they are so helpful for getting words down.
  3. Have fun and don’t give up.

(I’m actually going to do a post later this week that will be a checklist for prepping for NaNo, so stay tuned for that!)

[PINTEREST BOARD for THE SILVER FOREST]

And there you have a look into what I’m going to (hopefully) be spending next month working on!

Ishness of a September Variety {2015}

It’s time for another foray into Ishness…

ChasingShadowsCoverBut first! A note…

Ashley Townsend is having an awesome giveaway running from this Sunday (Oct 4) to the 16th, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Chasing Shadows having been released. So make sure to stop by her blog for the details! It’s going to be epic, there’s signed books and giftcards, and you’re not going want to miss it! #TeamHood, everyone! 🙂

And another note…

I was interviewed by Abi Pearson on her blog!

Go check it out, do! 🙂

ishness

I sort of blinked and then September was over. It was basically a whirlwind of me being busy and somehow not getting the things done I wanted to but still doing lots of stuff.

Highlights of the Month

Library Book Sale. I went to a library sale, where I got a stack of books and old videos. (Now I must just find more time…)

BookHome

My room will eventually look like this.

Vacationing. I was gone on vacation for a few days — road trips and English Country Dancing and kayaking, huzzah! (I’d never kayaked before. I found out that it’s tremendous fun.)

My first interviews! I was interviewed by Jenelle Schmidt on her website, as I mentioned way back when it happened, and also yesterday by Abi Pearson on her blog, as I said above. So exciting! I’d never been interviewed, and then it happens twice in one month. 🙂

I had my 2 year blogoversary!

That was exciting. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for two years! Last month I also hit 10,000 hits, 2,000 comments (techinically half of the comments are probably me replying, since I always do that… But still. 😉 ), and over 220 followers. Thanks so much, everyone!! Readers and commenters are the absolute BEST thing about blogging! You make it worth it and are all awesome and make me happy. ❤

2 Years of Blogging! Happy Day!

Writing

August was a big writerly month for me… September, not so much. Life was so busy and hectic that I couldn’t really focus on writing much. Plus, I’d finished Darkling Reflections and hit a roadblock on The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (KW2). So I wasn’t really working directly on anything…

…And then I randomly started writing The Rose and the Raven.

R&R

What happens . . .

. . . when both the princess and the prince who’s supposed to kiss her . . .

. . . fall asleep . . .

. . . half way across the country from each other?

I may have mentioned it a few times, but basically it’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and I haven’t decided yet if it might be a candidate for entering the Rooglewood Press contest or not. That would depend on a.) if I finish it, b.) if it’s short enough, c.) if I like it enough, and d.) if I actually have time to finish writing it before the deadline… which, considering the madness that is NaNo prep and NaNo, I actually rather doubt. Regardless, it’s an idea I’ve had for quite some time (parts of it… Other parts “clicked” a couple months ago) that I’ve really been wanting to write.

I’m going back and forth between being in love with it and thinking it’s stupid/loathing it with the loathing of a hundred seasons.

Sigh.

#Writerproblems

Anyways, I’m hoping it will be a novella and I wrote 3500 words of it in September and will be continuing if I can untangle myself from the writer’s block I seem to have run into at a million miles an hour (i.e., I’m kind of stuck).

But it has a number of twists that I’m very excited about, including the fact that the curse is kind of skewed differently than the fairy who cast it planned, and the thing in question to be pricked on is not actually a spindle. It also involves a prince and princess being adorable as they grow up together and (hopefully) fall in love (I wouldn’t know; I haven’t gotten that far…); forbidden love; a fairy and her evil twin; and lots and lots of outlawed roses.

Anyway, despite typical writer problems of loathing and writer’s block, I’m “enjoying” setting foot tentatively in The Rose and the Raven and getting to know Prince Derrick and Princess Brie (a.k.a. Brier-Rose, which is awkward considering roses were banned soon after she was born. So now she’s just Princess Brier, or Brie to her friends) and the fairy Ev (who some may remember from my Blogoversary post…).

I’ve also thrown myself into planning for NaNo. Not REAL NaNo planning, like actual plotting for the story I’m actally going to write (only a little of that so far). No. Nothing so extreme. That’s what October’s for, right? …Right? But rather pre-NaNo-prep prep, like schedules and to-do lists and lots and lots of scheming regarding my NaNo region involving what I plan to do as an ML (NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison).

nanostuff

(A glimpse at prepping for my ML life. Look at all that NaNo stuff! I didn’t even plan that picture, I was just doing stuff with all the NaNo things, and suddenly realized it was all spread out for a perfect photo opportunity. Ta-da!)

Read

I was mostly too busy to read… Insanity, right?

I did finish The Scarlet Pimpernel and really enjoyed it! Plus, the Scarlet Pimpernel himself was AWESOME, naturally, and not in this book enough. Fortunately, I hear there are sequels. *schemes to read several of the sequels because some are free on gutenberg.org and some are also at my library so mwahaha*

And because I was starving for books and hadn’t read in a few weeks, I randomly up and read a Diana Wynne Jones books I had around and (miraculously) hadn’t read yet — Power of Three. I LOVED IT SO MUCH OH MY GOODNESS. ❤ The twist. The characters. The world. The epicness. The humor (of course). Classic Diana Wynne Jones. It was stupendous!

Sept2015Books

And that’s it. Yup. I read 2 books this last month. That’s a new low for me this year. *dies a little inside because neeeeeeed booooooks*

Oh, and it doesn’t count as a “book” exactly, more of an essay, but I also just last night finished a delightful little book (can one call it a pamphlet if it’s an ebook…?) of 60-ish pages from 1908 called “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day” by Arnold Bennett. I heard about it I believe from some random NaNo pep-talk or news email or something… Chris Baty or some person with a high position at NaNo randomly mentioned it (wish I could remember where!) and linked to it being free on kindle or gutenberg.org, so I randomly downloaded it at the time and promptly didn’t read it for a year or so. I finally did. And I found to be fascinating, hilarious, well-written, with some good tips, and basically awesome. No, I don’t in fact know how to live on 24 hours a day now, but still, it has great ides and I’ll hopefully put some of it to use eventually. Regardless, it’s a splendid read (and short!) and I’m just amazed how brilliant and articulate and funny people from back then were — think the authors of Holmes and Bertie Wooster and Around the World in 80 Days. I’ve rarely if ever read non-fiction that was as hilarious but also useful as this little pamphlet. Lots of fun and also enlightening! I kept reading bits of it aloud for the wit and wisdom. 😀 (Find it on Goodreads too.)

I’m not doing a Nightstand Books/Upcoming Reads for this month, because while I do have a few ebooks I hope to read before NaNo, and a stack of other books that I would love to read the first chance I get, I really don’t know how much I’ll get to this month. For the record, I AM starving to read some books, so I hope I’ll get to do some of that this month. Because BOOOOKS. There’s at least one that I’m VERRRY much looking forward to reading, and you should see a review for it later this month if I can get through it on time… I can’t wait!

Watched

Well, since I wasn’t reading much, I had to get my story fix from somewhere. So I’ve been watching films and shows a little more than I usually do. Normally I’m not a big watcher, not because I’m against watching things or anything, I just normally have more books to read than things to see and I’d normally rather spend my time reading; but these happened this month:

moviesSept2015

  • Yes, I finally saw Mulan and The Lion King. I know, I know, everyone’s shocked I hadn’t before… They were fairly adorbz.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel from the ’30s was fun to see, just to see the story on screen (but honestly it got rid of most of the tension, and all of the ingenious stuff the Scarlet Pimpernel himself did at the end).
  • I’ll be honest: I only watched Little Women because of Christian Bale. I didn’t remember the story much except to know that I dislike it. *more heart attacks from the audience* Yeah, sorry; it seems it’s my fate in life to shock my blog readers beyond repair. (But the whole story is depressing; and you-know-who died which was NOT okay; and Laurie married the wrong girl. Just sayin’. I guess Jo maybe started the whole “just friends” thing… *cough*)
  • I’m also re-watching the Hunger Games movies before the new one (one down; one and a half to go…).
  • And re-watching some Sherlock. Because Sherlock.

Kanan

One of the best things I’ve seen this year is Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1). Asdflksjdflkjdf. It is just SO much fun!!! *flails around* I’m not the most enormous Star Wars fan in the world — I enjoy it a lot but I’m not obsessed. And I never really liked the Clone Wars animated show, what little I’ve seen of it. But the Rebels show, set about fifteen years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (and so a few years before Episode IV: A New Hope), is hilarious and fun and I just love the characters, especially Ezra (the hero) and Kanan. They are quite simply AWESOME. Just sayin’. And the rest are super cool and fun too Seriously, I’ve rarely come across such a wonderful dynamic crew of characters — I just love them all and their hilarious interactions. So much awesome and fun!!! It may be a little simple to some, but I just ENJOY it. Lots. Sometimes you just want to laugh, you know? It’s just so awesome. I can’t flail enough. ^_^ ❤

ezra

Ezra Bridger

And of course, I saw Beyond the Mask again, now that it’s on DVD! Love that movie!! ❤ Also one of the best things I’ve seen this year. SO. GOOD.

beyondthemaskDVDshelf

(I know, the camera flash masked his face even better than his mask does. Of course I did it on purpose…)

(This is also a good excuse to go: LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL BOOKS I NEED TO READ. Ahem.)

October Plans?

October is going to be insane for me. I have lots of catching up to do, lots of NaNo prep that must be done, a whole NaNo novel to plan, several writing events and things I need to go to, a lot of planning still to be done relating to my position as a NaNo ML, and I wouldn’t say no to finishing my Sleeping Beauty novella if I possibly could. Not to mention the daily insanity of every-day life.

I have a massive, exhaustive, comprehensive to-do list that is currently running at 5 pages, of stuff I would like to get done before November 1st brings with it the storm that is NaNoWriMo. …Yeah, probably not happening. *cough cough*

Oh, and I have some upcoming bookish posts and writerly posts (NaNo prep, huzzah!) so watch for that!

So. That’s my September. How was yours? Do you have October plans?

My Misguided Fairy Godmother Muse

Once upon a time, there was a girl who started writing stories.

She spent several years scribbling away at them, going back and forth between a few different ideas and consequently not making much progress on them.

Then something strange began to happen. She began to have even more and more ideas for even more stories! What could this mean?

But, cheerily, she continued writing, and making notes for all the new ideas. She became obsessed with making lists of the stories, and developing titles for them, and designing mock covers for them, and writing out summaries of what they were about. She began to be more excited about “playing” with the stories than actually writing them.

Time went on. The list of stories continued to grow and grow and grow! But far from complaining, the writer was delighted.

She did so enjoy making those lists and writing those notes, you see.

Somewhere along the way, she began to notice patterns. Whenever she would take a break from working on her writings, whether on purpose to recharge, or accidentally due to busyness, she would suddenly get hit with all this inspiration — and, more often than not, that inspiration might include ideas for new stories.

Then the year of 2015 hit. The ideas were flying in left and write right. It began to get insane. The writer began to despair of ever getting around to writing all of the things, especially at the snail-like pace the actual writing was happening.

So the writer stepped back and analyzed this phenomenon.

That was when the writer discovered the presence of her fairy godmother.

Most writers talk of their “Muse”.

(very helpful…)

This writer realized that instead of a muse, she had a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration. (Perhaps rather like Ophelia from Broken Glass by Emma Clifton…)

The writer realized that the fairy godmother muse freaks out whenever the writer is not making Story, knowing that the writer is happier when making Story. So the fairy godmother, thinking the writer is just tired of the old stories, quickly throws a bunch of new ideas at the writer to get her attention.

If you haven’t figured out by now, this writer is me. And this benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of my writerly brain/inspiration/muse is the cause of both my excitedness about having so many story ideas to write, and my despair over ever finishing anything, let alone all of them.

My fairy godmother muse, especially this year, is constantly going:

“STORY. STORY! YOU’RE NOT MAKING STORY. YOU’LL BE HAPPIER WITH SOME STORY. MAKE STORY!”

And hands me more and more storyness, shoving it into my brain and then beaming and watching happily as I flail around like a headless octopus and try to work on ALL OF THE STORY THINGS.

Unfortunately, my fairy godmother muse doesn’t seem to care if I’m actually making PROGRESS on said stories, i.e., actually writing them down…

As long as I’m flailing around doing plotting or brainstorming or making lists, she feels confident that she has been doing her job well and fulfilling her role in keeping her writer happy playing with stories.

To give you an idea of the insanity that’s underway, I’m going to share a list of the story ideas that have “clicked” this year ALONE.

The main ones are:

  • The Other Half of Everything (I think I’ve mentioned this enough…)
  • Darkling Reflections (Finished this one! Huzzah! …Yes, it’s a short story; I can still be proud.)
  • The Siren and the Skyship (swashbuckling sky adventuresome gender-swapped steampunk Little Mermaid retelling)

Five more stories in the Kedran’s Wood series (bringing it to a total of 8… so far; last year it was supposed to be a “trilogy”. Haha. Isn’t that just ADORABLE?)

  • Son of Kedran’s Wood – prequel novella
  • Return to McAllistair Mansion – short story (I wrote this one! I’s so proud of me.)
  • Mixup at Kedran’s Wood – novella between books 2 & 3
  • The Novelist of Kedran’s Wood – novel set after book 3, a double story
  • Celebrations at Kedran’s Wood – short story set after all of the planned books (thus far… *cough*)

As well as:

  • A modern Cinderella retelling about a writer, set during NaNoWriMo
  • An untitled fairy-tale mashup conglomeration retelling (RETELL ALL OF THE THINGS)
  • An untitled thing I’m currently calling “The Epic Book” which is vague but has some awesome ideas swirling
  • An extremely vague notion of an idea for a con/heist story that would be a companion to Underground Rainbow, starring the eccentric purple-haired artist (no, unfortunately this has no plot yet and I probably will never be able to make it work)
  • An idea for a nonfiction book about various things

And I also “made official” i.e. added to my lists because I had had ideas about them but was pretending they didn’t exist:

  • The tenth Starrellian Saga book
  • A sequel/companion novel to Heartseeker about the Bard and Trillum
  • An untitled Arthurian retelling which is going to be super cool

Not to mention my Sleeping Beauty novella The Rose and the Raven, which had been a vague idea for years but only just this year finally came together as something I could write… (But, again, having trouble CONTINUING… ya know?)

Yes. That is 16 (or 17 if you count The Rose and the Raven) stories, either from ideas from this year or “officialized” by listing them as stories to write. THAT’S JUST THIS YEAR ALONE. That’s not even thinking about the 30+ other stories from BEFORE the notorious 2015-when-all-the-stories-exploded-in-plotbunnies-and-said-write-us-or-we’ll-kill you. Sometimes I scroll through my list of 50ish stories and just go… “HOW EVEN.”

Sixteen new stories this year, guys. (So far…)

Can you see how insane this is getting?

Apparently there’s just no dealing with a benevolent but misguided fairy godmother of inspiration.

(And no, I don’t actually know whether you should be very happy for me or PLAYING A DIRGE.

It’s very confusing and I honestly can’t tell anymore.

Blame it on my fairy godmother.)