Wander With Me

Good morning, my Roadlings! Happy Valentine’s Day! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m doing something different today — reviewing a music CD!

I’ve been curious to try Brittany Jean’s music for awhile, so when I heard about her new album and a chance to review it, I decided to go for it. I’m so glad I did!

Wander With Me is a collection of Americana songs. There are nine original songs by singer/songwriter Brittany Jean — she’s so talented! — and two cover songs (of John Denver’s Wild Flowers in a Mason Jar, and Bob Dylan’s Forever Young) which are quite well done.

It’s like summer and sunshine and the dust of a country road, and heartbreak and laughter and life, and love and smiles and wandering.

My favorite songs are Smoke and Mirrors (haunting), Wander With Me (charming), and one gorgeous part of Rise and Fall (inspiring). I’ve been going around with lines from those three running through my head for a couple of weeks now and it’s fantastic. ๐Ÿ˜€ I know I’ve found some new favorites to listen to again and again!

Dear Heart, Like No Tomorrow, and Forever Young, were also lovely. I enjoyed the others too, even if they’re not top favorites. There are always a few that just click best with me. ๐Ÿ™‚ But there’s something for everyone, I think!

The instrumentation/style is unlike what I usually listen to (being mostly a Celtic music person with a side of Christian pop/rock) but it was actually neat to try something new for a change.

Brittany’s voice fills all the songs with a sort of down-to-earth, light enchantment. There’s so much spirit and warmth to her singing! And you can just tell the whole thing — the music, the singing, the words, and even the pretty packaging of the CD — is infused with love and care. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve heard the album a few times and it’s been nice having something different to listen to. The songs feel much more summer-y and it’s a little like some sunshine during this cold time of year. It feels like you should listen to them driving down a dusty country road with the window open and a warm summer breeze in your hair… Or, well, doing dishes works too, and it’s a nice accompaniment to otherwise mundane life chores, I’ve found. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Everything’s more fun with a friend, and that’s how I felt listening to this CD.

Anyway, although not all of it was my usual cup of tea, it’s lovely music and I’m so glad I decided to try it out. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you’re curious, I do recommend giving it a listen, particularly the title track (Wander With Me) and Smoke and Mirrors. If you like what you hear, check out the rest of the album! Won’t you wander with us?

“We rise / We fall / We climb / We stall / We lose / We win and then begin again /
We overcome / We come undone / We give it all…”

— Brittany Jean, “Rise and Fall” from “Wander With Me”

With thanks to the artist for the free copy of this CD.

You can visit Brittany Jean online at www.bjeanmusic.com or in these places:

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Spotify, and Instagram.

And you can find this album on her website, iTunes, and Amazon.

Well, readers — or should I say listeners? — what do you think? What sort of music do you love? Let me know in the comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

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More Infinity Dreams

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11 Tag (Infinity Dreams Award)

I was tagged by Candice @ O Ye Scribes for this tag quite awhile ago, and the questions look like a bunch of fun! Thanks, Candice! ^_^

Rules

  • Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Tell us 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Tag 11 bloggers

1. What is the last song you listened to?

Into the Open Air from the Brave soundtrack by Patrick Doyle.

2. What’s your favorite dessert?

Lemon pie or chocolate cake or cupcakes.

3. Do you believe in reading more than one book at a time?

Yes and no. Sometimes I get into a stretch where I am in too many books at once, so I get stressed out and vow to only read one book at a time. Other times I try to read one book at a time but get excited about a bunch of other books which I then HAVE to start! It really depends on my mood. I like both ways at different times.

4. How many books do you plan to read this year?

As many as I can. ๐Ÿ˜› (Okay, at least 75, I hope.)

5. Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter because I don’t have a Facebook. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (But actually GOODREADS. Goodreads is better than either! <3)

6. Avocados or kale?

Avocados. I don’t like kale. ๐Ÿ˜›

7. Where you do like to read?

In my comfy chair in my room, on my bed, or occasionally outside or in the car.

8. What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

Interacting with commenters! Also the moment when I have a post all finished and looking nice and post it. ๐Ÿ™‚

9. Who is your favorite historical figure?

Harumph. Um. I’m just going to say Tolkien and move on… >.>

10. What is the best way to deal with writer’s block?

Take a break from writing, or else figure out why you’re stuck and what needs to happen next.

11.ย  Favorite thing about spring?

The world slowly greening and coming out of its long, cold winter sleep.

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So, what about you, readers of mine? Any answers to these? Feel free to answer the most interesting questions in the comments, or take any you like over to your blog and consider yourself tagged!

๏ปฟInk Spill Follow-up

I think a part of the problem is that I really do wish and hope with all my heart to be a published author someday.

But for one thing, I don’t know exactly what that looks like anymore, with publishing being such a tossed-up thing just now. For another thing, I’m not willing (currently) to do what it takes (or what people say it takes) to pursue that to the end.

I suppose yesterday’s rampage was about trying to convince myself that I can still write, that I’m still allowed to, that I can still even claim to be a writer, even if at this season in my life it does not include trying to publish.

There may be another season, someday, but right now my season is to write.

You can’t go straight from winter to summer (unless you’re in Texas… but I digress…). The trees can’t go directly from bare-branched to fully leaved overnight. The leaves have to come in and grow, slowly, from little pale green timid buds to full grown glossy dark green leaves.


I still want to be published. I don’t believe, at this stage, that I ever will be. But someday I may believe again. I don’t know. But right now I don’t have to. I just have to write. And that is a wonderful reminder which I greatly needed. So I’d like to say thank you to those who encouraged me in this way.

The future may hold something different, but as the fellow says in the Irish song: “Cares of tomorrow can wait till this day is done.”

ottergrouphugI want to give a heartfelt thanks to every person who dropped me a kind word yesterday or today, or earlier this month when I was going through something similar to this with my not winning the Rooglewood contest… or in fact ever encouraged me. I was so touched and uplifted, and I’m immeasurably grateful.

I often forget that I’m not . . . alone. It may sound strange, but I’m a solitary sort of person, and I’ve somehow, impossibly, come to believe that I am alone and have to do everything by myself.

I imagine I’m a lot more like my solitary character Tare in that way than I ever suspected.

bringmeoutBut he and I, together, are slowly beginning to learn that we don’t have to do it alone. That people, incredibly . . . CARE. About me, about him. No matter how little we feel we deserve it, or how difficult it is for us to fathom. We never imagined what could be . . . never could have dreamed that such people could exist and lift us up in such a way. But the Chess Club are there for him, even when he doesn’t know it (he hasn’t learned this yet, but he may, in time…). And you all have been there for me, even when I little dreamed that there could be such wonderful people in the world. โค

It’s humbling, eye-opening, and very wonderful indeed to feel supported and loved and encouraged, and it is a blessing of a thing beyond words (and we all know how much I love words, so it must be very far indeed) to know you all.

I’m very grateful for all of you. Thank you very much.

Ishness!

ishness

Happy February!

Wow, I haven’t done a real Ishness post in ages! So it’s time for another one. ๐Ÿ™‚ Here’s a look at my January…

Writing

After the insane writing time that was November and December (which I now realize I have STILL to chronicle fully on the blog here…), I was pretty much burnt out on the writing front.

And by “pretty much” I mean “a completely blackened stub of candle-wick at the end of a very gone candle.” Ahem.

So I took a writing hiatus in January. Yup. The whole month off. Which may sound extreme to some, but I really needed it and found it super relaxing.

Obviously, I still blogged… a ton… largely due to said writing break. Because I always need to write SOMETHING, and when I “take off” it generally manifests itself in the form of fiendishly frequent blogging, and starting a book blog only amplified that…

I also cheated a liiittle bit and did writing in my writing journal/notebook, which is something I start every year and use to keep track of my miscellaneous writing ideas etc. So I wrote 25 pages in that. …Which is more than I usually do. Eheh.

OHEcollageAnd Teague and co. from The Other Half of Everything have been steadily bombarding me with ideas this last month, so I’ve been surreptitiously taking notes on that and may have kinda-sorta worked out a rough structure for the story. Which makes me happy.

So this is why I’m not entirely DYING to write just now, which is what usually happens after I take a break and starve myself on words. Instead of starving, I tried to just… cut back and give myself permission to not write. But I’m wonderfully refreshed after my writing hiatus and although I don’t know what I’m going to work on next — so many options! So many books! — I’m excited to return to it.

Oh! And I did write on my writing day. January 20th every year is designated my writing day, because a few years in a row I happened to write something on that day, so I turned it into a tradition. So I wrote a snippet of The Silver Forest. Because Taghdach demanded it. Because he was grouchy and wanted to blow up some diamond trees. So I let him and wrote it. Because I’m nice like that.

Some snippets from The Silver Forest (you’re welcome. XD)

SilverForestCoverFinalWithout warning, he swung round, his head jerking forward and down as if under a great weight, and he flung his arms out to both sides in a violent gesture which leveled the trees around them, at the same time that a howling wind seemed to spring inexplicably up around him, tossing his cloak wildly. At the movement of his arms and the power that brought the wind, every diamond tree within a few feet in a wide swathe around them seemed to constrict for a moment and then shattered, crashing to the forest floor in myriads of glittering, tinkling fragments.

***

His face was carefully sculpted, a cold marble statue under unforgiving moonlight on a frozen night, and no emotion could be found there. But his eyes burned a painful silver steel of starfire. Taghdach’s voice was as blank as his face as he spoke now. โ€œHe was my closestโ€”and onlyโ€”friend.โ€ He looked unwaveringly straight into her eyes, his own like ice with not a trace of any thought readable within them, and finished, โ€œAnd I killed him.โ€

Reading

january2016read

(I seem to be following a trend of reading books with blue-ish-grey-ish covers? Except for the white one, which is trying to shrink into the background because it’s nonfiction, which I rarely read. Also I feel the need to point out that these are listed in reverse order: I read Fire and Hemlock first and Half-Blood most recently… but Goodreads has these nicely listed — albeit backward — and I’m too lazy to go make a new image collection right now.)

I read 10 books in January. Which was nice, because in the previous four months, I read literally 6 books total and was starved for reading… (More about these books in my Reading Roundup over on my book blog if you’re interested in hearing further about ’em.)

Watching

I saw Sherlock: The Abominable Bride!

…Three times. *cough* (Once at a theater it was showing at, which was awesome — Sherlock on the big screen! — and twice afterward online. Because obviously I’m addicted.)

It was so awesome and I loved it. So many little (and not-so-little) nods to the original story and to the modern ones, all wrapped up in a clever plot. I just LOVE how clever the Sherlock episodes are. They make me happy, and this is definitely one of my favorites… And the setting! It was so awesome to see the beloved characters in that time period. All tidy and neat-looking in their clothes and combed hair etc. XD And so much humor. My goodness. So. Fun. I had a couple complaints (like the creepiness, but a lot of the original Holmes stories are creepy too…) but mostly just ignored those and had a blast. And the interaction and dialog and all the characters and Sherlock and John and Mycroft and Lestrade and Mary and just lskjflkjsdl SHERLOOOCK.

Basically, IT WAS AWESOME!!!

…Can you kinda tell I enjoyed a lot? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Listening

January’s song-of-the-month for me was Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey… yes, I’m still listening to that. I discovered it at the beginning of the month, and it’s been constantly playing — if not actually, at least in my head. I love it so much and it’s sort of my “theme-song” for January that I associate with the month. ๐Ÿ™‚

Life-ing

Humm… Not too much of interest going on here… I’ve been really busy (who knew that basically postponing your life for two months in favor of writing piles up??) but can’t think of anything specific of interest. I had a cold there at the end as I may have mentioned… And I’ve been trying to look after myself better, which has included trying to get outside more, which means that I’ve been actually noticing the weather. Which has been insane. Some days it’s freezing cold with a nasty wind and it’s all I can do not to run back inside to my heater instead of taking a little walk. Other times it’s been like 70 degrees, with a soft breeze and hot sunshine when I even *gasp* had to wear short sleeves.

Apparently our weather is confused about the fact that it was January…?

(Of course, one of those days taking a walk with short sleeves this last week, something — I suspect it was a wasp — decided to randomly sting me, so THAT was fun. I am reminded of why I actively try to avoid the outdoors. >.>)

February Plans

I still want to read. A lot. And I have plans of avoiding Goodreads so that I can focus on reading and writing (if you see me on there before March, feel free to yell at me. ;)), and of trying to consolidate my internet time. …We’ll see how that goes. *cough*

I still have a lot of life projects I’m behind on, so I hope to tackle those as well.

Now that I’m off writing hiatus, I hope to get back into writing again! Yay! …How exactly I’m going to do that, I have no idea, but pfft, details. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s some Tare editing calling my name, and I’m throwing around the idea of working on a couple of different books, but haven’t officially decided what yet. Hopefully February will hold a wondrous return to the writing world, regardless of what exactly that entails!

I know that February’s going to be busy, but hey! At least we have an extra day this month, right? ๐Ÿ˜€

How was your January and what are your February plans? ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, tomorrow’s Groundhog Day, and on behalf of groundhogs everywhere, I petition you: celebrate on this little-noticed holiday! (I don’t care how. Just celebrate. Because groundhogs. And spring(ish). And glorious things like that.)

Looking Forward, Looking Back (2016/2015)

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I love the change of the year and have been doing many of my favorite New Years things like starting new journals. A fresh year is waiting, like a blank page to be written on, and the old year is gone, with all its good times and, yes, failures. It’s time to start fresh.

Danny Gokey says it beautifully in his song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again: “Yesterday’s a closing door — you don’t live there anymore.” Give the song a listen! (I heard it on the radio this week, fell in love, and have listened to it ten billion times since and am listening to it on repeat as I write this post). It’s beautiful and feels just right for the New Year.

Here are some of my excitements for the new year of 2016, as well as a brief look back at my 2015. And — yes! — lists!

2016

My word for 2016

Joy is my word this year. I want to find joy in everything if I can. It’s going to be hard, since I struggle with a tendency to be stressed and down on myself. But I’m tired of feeling crushed beneath expectations, beneath things I feel are obligations which ought to be enjoyable but have become chores. This includes — yes — writing, reading, emailing… even the things that I usually love, sometimes can become a burden because I’m a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist. I’m hoping to approach everything, the fun and the not, with Joy. To rediscover my Joy in writing and life and find a freedom I’ve been looking for . . . that is my wish for the new year.

JOY! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’M EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR:

aspysdevotionThese books coming out:

Yorien’s Hand // The Goblin’s Puzzle // A Spy’s Devotion // Fridays with the Wizards // Rebel of the Sands // Songkeeper // The Story of Kullervo // King’s Folly // The Beautiful Pretender // Five Magic Spindles // Defying Shadows // Stolen Crowns #1 // The Bone Queen // Crooked Kingdom

(I did a post about this if you want pics/links to Goodreads, but I’ve since added Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams — sequel to Orphan’s Song — and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, both of which are sequels that I need this instant. *flail*)

These movies releasing:

  • The Abominable Bride (Sherlock special which I’m hopefully going to see on Wednesday… YAY!)
  • Captain America: The Civil War (YESSSS!! As I may have mentioned, I’m kind of looking forward to this a lot, primarily because BUCKY and HAWKEYE!)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Because Star Wars…)

(Also, perhaps someday I’ll see Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Batman Vs. Superman, which are releasing this year, but I’m not in a super hurry as they also sound weird…)

sherlockspecial

I’d also like to see:

  • Pan (missed that when it came out last year)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy (somehow still haven’t seen this)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World (which I technically saw once but need to rewatch since I have no memory of it which is slightly terrifying since I think I liked it a lot?!)

My 2015 at a Glance

READING

66 Books

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I read many lovely books, notably many retellings and much Diana Wynne Jones; and discovered steampunk and heist books. (Yay!) And I just posted my top 15 favorites of the year.

Goodreads has a lovely new “Year in Books Feature” which I love! (Mine is here.)

WATCHING

Shows I saw:

  • Leverage (seasons 1-5) — everyone knows how much I love this… *cough*
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC Miniseries) — interesting to see on screen
  • Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1) — I ADORED THIS! Sooo much fun. โค

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I don’t go to the theater often, but this year I saw:

  • starwars7posterStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — AS;LDKJFLSK FEELS. WHAT. Still haven’t decided what I think of it except that I know I had a blast and then felt extremely sad near the end… I think overall I loved it? But I’m not sure yet! *flail* One thing’s for sure: ALL OF THE FEELS. And I adore the new characters, particularly Poe, and want to see the movie again.
  • Cinderella — Gorgeous.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — Hawkeye!!
  • Mockingjay Part 2 — Um.
  • Beyond the Mask — EPIC!!! โค

beyondthemaskDVDshelf

BLOGGING

87 Posts

I really discovered my love of blogging this last year, and started my Ishness posts, and just had a fun time.

My top viewed posts were:

ccakeFrom which I discern that people are unprepared for NaNo (always), and love movies (or characters), bookshelves, Christmas, and cupcakes (or possibly denial). Basically you, my blog readers, have your priorities in order. *thumbs up*

WordPress has a handy blog report showcase for the year which is fun. Take a look at my blog stats if you enjoy numbers like I do. XD

It says my top commenters were Sarah, Tracey, Christine, C.B., and Abi — thank you guys! And to every single person who reads this blog and who has commented (even just once) a heartfelt thank you. โค You make my day every time. ^_^

WRITING

Over 100,000 Words

DRcoverishR&RI wrote an entire novella and two whole short stories (and a couple fanfictions) — namely:

KW2coverPSilverForestCoverFinalAnd worked on several other books:

  • 2. The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (mostly this one)
  • The Silver Forest (and this one)
  • 0.5. Child of Kedran’s Wood
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood
  • 4 The Writer of Kedran’s Wood
  • Heartseeker
  • The Other Half of Everything (snippets)

S&Scover4

OHEcoverI was attacked by several new plotbunnies that I adore and can’t wait to write, most notably:

  • The Other Half of Everything
  • The Siren and the Skyship

My Kedran’s Wood series exploded into several different books/novellas/short stories.

starrellianicon

My epic fantasy series the Starrellian Saga is taking shape in a new and exciting way as I reimagine all of the threads into a different sort of book structure.

A few other exciting things:

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***

PonyFrom the start of the year when I was followed by a pony from the post office, through seeing my first stage play, spontaneously going on a few roadtrips, being a NaNo Municipal Liaison for the third time, all the way to spending my last days of the year frantically editing a novella under a deadline for the first time . . . it’s been a very interesting year!

With my new word (Joy) in hand, I look forward to what 2016 holds!

I haven’t made specific writing/reading goals yet. I’m on a semi-hiatus from writing for a bit, so we’ll see what happens after that… I’m currently leaving my options open. ๐Ÿ™‚

How was your 2015? I wish you all a truly fantastic 2016!