Ishness of July: Otters, Hummingbirds, Retellings and Skyships

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It’s AUGUST! Guys. Guys. Did I hear myself correctly? August. AUGUST?

Sorry, I tend to repeat myself when I get confused.

Half of me is freaking out that we’re so far into the year (wasn’t it April yesterday??), and yet the other half is staring at the new calendar page in a sort of delight of new-month-itis, which is what makes me really happy when I get to write “August 1” in flowy script in my writing journal and reading log, ready for a fresh start. It feels nice, I tell ya.

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Yes, I’m a confused being.

(Plus, I always get June and July mixed up and tend to  think of them as vaguely one really long month, so it’s nice to be back to a month I can actually keep straight. Maybe that’s just me.)

But look: July is over! I don’t have the tiniest inkling of how THAT happened, since last I knew it was the Fourth of July and I still had big plans for the month… *cough* Yeah. That clearly didn’t happen. I think this last month was gone in record time, which is freaking me out.

But! You’re obviously not here to watch me freak out (or ARE you…? *wriggles eyebrows*) but to see what ishness I’ve been up to this past month! So let’s see…

July Things

I’ve been up to summery things like:

  • Celebrating Independence Day
  • Swimming
  • Going to the zoo (OTTERS. OTTERS ARE THE BEST THING EVER. OTTERRRRRRRS! ❤ That is all.)

(from pinterest)

And let’s not forget the most important one:

  • Dying of the heat because SUMMER

Seriously. It is so so hot. *steals Alaska to wrap round self like the opposite of a coat* (Because coats are for keeping you warm…? Okay, that analogy ran away from me.)

Oh! And I finally got to see the movie Epic! Oh my goodness, it was so adorable and fun and pretty! I kind of loved it to bits — aaahhh! And Ronin is so so fabulous (and I want his accent. And his awesomeness. And his hummingbird. Basically I want to be Ronin). AND THE HUMMINGBIRDS. HUMMINGBIIIIIIIIIIIRDS. I wanna ride a hummingbird so much. ❤

(from pinterest)

Writing

I wrote a pitiful 3000 words in July… Half of that was for my Kedran’s Wood short story Return to McAllistair Mansion… AND I FINISHED IT. I’m very proud of me. I finished a short story! Yayyy!

scrnshotrmm

(Okay, so it’s technically not too short-story-ish, in that it doesn’t have a plot but is just three related scenes about Tare between books 1 and 2, and also featuring a character I’d never written before, which meant I spent most of it trying to figure out what said character was like. BUT STILL.)

The other half of the  3000 words was miscellaneous snatches of five other stories. Yup. Scattered, this month.

But this was, primarily, the month of brainstorming. All of my stories exploded in my head, which caused a mess but was fairly awesome. (Okay, that may be exaggerating. Maybe not ALL of them. But several.)

  • I’ve been doing a ton of brainstorming for The Silver Forest, my upcoming Twelve Dancing Princesses NaNo… I still need a more concrete plot, but I have ideas, which is a start, and I got around to naming the oodles of characters I now have. It’s going to be awesome.
  • rrpinterest

    (from pinterest)

    Also, my old idea for a Sleeping Beauty retelling, called The Rose and the Raven, finally clicked, so it has a plot now, which excites me a ton and makes me want to write it. Seriously, some delicious plot twists. Bwahaha! I kind of adore it a lot. ❤ [PINTEREST BOARD]

  • I also had breakthroughs on The Invisible Mask and Heartseeker! So, yay! That’s kind of exciting. My problem childs these days. (Hush, childs is totally a word.)
  • I also had an idea for a new story. Yay. (No, I don’t actually know if that was sarcasm or not.) It’s a modern Cinderella story about a writer, set during NaNo. I’m kind of super excited about this one too. But it will probably not see the light of day for a few more years, especially since I’m still half pretending it doesn’t exist… (I HAVE TOO MANY STORY IDEAS OKAY.)
  • And miscellaneous stuff on some other stories.
sspinterest

(from Pinterest)

But mostly, my new idea for a Steampunk retelling of The Little Mermaid exploded in my face.

This thing is so big and epic now that I may have a panic attack from all the awesome. *SQUEEEEEEEEEEE* I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I almost considered switching to writing it for this NaNo instead of The Silver Forest, but I decided ultimately against it because I’m going to want to take my time with The Siren and the Skyship (which is its title) and just have wayyyyy too much fun with it.

The Siren and the Skyship is kind of my favorite thing ever right now. I’M JUST RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED AND LOVE IT SO MUCH AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH.

(from Pinterest)

[Pinterest Board for The Siren and the Skyship]

So, yeah. Not much actual writing but SO much awesomeness in the brainstorming department. I think it was more of a brainhurricane.

Reading

july2015read

Yeahhh, that was a fairly slow month of reading for this year. I was mostly reading things for review.

  • I obviously reviewed Chasing Shadows and Corroded Thorns on the bloggy.
  • Castle in the Air was a reread, sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. HMC is my second-favorite book ever (after The Lord of the Rings), and Castle in the Air is also a delight — aaahh! ❤ So much hilariousness! It was awesome getting to read it again now that I know all the plot twists and secrets. >:D
  • I also read all of Five Glass Slippers, which I’m proud of me for accomplishing. I just reviewed it on Goodreads in case you’re curious what I thought of it; Broken Glass is still my favorite, followed by The Moon Master’s Ball! (Scatter the white mouse. SCATTER THE WHITE MOUSE. I LOVED HIM SO MUUUUUUUCH. *incoherent squeeing fangirl noises mixed with sobbing*)
  • And it doesn’t count because I haven’t finished reading Five Enchanted Roses but I DID read one novella from there to review it, namely Stone Curse.

So I kind of read 7 novellas and 2 novels this month. *nod nod* That doesn’t sound quite so bad, I guess… 😉

August Nightstand Books

I know, I know, I’m early on this again. But I can’t help it! You can join in on the Nightstand Books blog meme the first Wednesday of every month along with Jenelle and D.J. 🙂

Here’s mine:

AugNightstand2015

You may recognize a pattern by now…

  • I’m going to finish Plenilune this month if it KILLS me. (Look for a figurative obituary soon starring yours truly… *cough*) BUT I’M GOING TO. I WILL I WILL.
  • Yes, I’m still in Veiled Rose too–I’m determined to finish it as well!
  • House of Many Ways I’m going to get to reread, so I’m excited for that!
  • And I still need to finish The Scarlet Pimpernel, but I like the three chapters I’ve read so far… XD

And we’ll just ignore the five ebooks I want to read or finish as well. *shifty eyes* Yeah. They’re not on my nightstand so they don’t count. 😉

(And we’ll also ignore how busy I’m going to be and the fact I might have even less time for reading than last month… *cough*)

August plans?

I don’t even know… I feel like I really have to get EVERYTHING done this next month because September and October look to be insanely busy and we’re not even going to SPEAK of November… So if I don’t catch up on certain things I’m going to be behind the rest of the year. Heh. Wish me luck! XD

So! There’s a (very long) update on my life!

(Basically, I want a hummingbird to ride and an otter for a pet and an intelligent loyal white mouse for a friend.)

How was your July? Any plans for August?

Did you do Camp NaNo? How did it go?

Lloyd Alexander: A Tribute Post

I was going to post this on January 30th, but as I have other plans for the blog on that date (stay tuned!) I am posting it early…

On January 30th each year, I always celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite authors…

Lloyd Alexander

…And what better way to celebrate than with pictures! I had an epic photo-shoot of all the Lloyd Alexander books that I have, which was a TON of fun…

LloydAlexanderPost

Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007) was the author of over 25 novels and several other works… (I am on a quest to read all of them, eventually. ;))

He is one of my top favorite authors, right up alongside Tolkien and Lewis. I probably owe my love of fantasy to Lloyd Alexander. I discovered his Prydain books at an early age, and they brought me into the rich world of fantasy… and made me decide I never wanted to leave it again.

So in a sense, you could say that I am who I am (a lover of fantasy, both in reading and especially writing — I consider myself a fantasy writer primarily) because of Lloyd Alexander.

I do remember reading the Narnia books and The Princess and the Goblin somewhere in that time-frame (and came to The Lord of the Rings at the almost-grown-up age of 10), which also contributed to my love of fantasy at an early age.

But Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles was my first epic-fantasy series, and will always hold a special place in my heart both as a marvelous series and as the doorway that led me to fantasy as a child… and thereby led to who I am today.

I am immensely grateful to Lloyd Alexander for writing those books — and all of the other delightful books he penned over his lifetime. Thank you, Lloyd!

Signed

Signed copy of The High King that I found at library sale. Signed!! ❤

So in celebration of what would, if he were still living, have been his 91st birthday (a bit early), I’m going to share some of the pictures with y’all! And lists of his books I’ve read and want to…

MyLloydAlexanderCollection

My Lloyd Alexander book collection!! Aren’t they just scrumptious looking? 🙂

Prydain

The Prydain Chronicles:

  1. The Book of Three
  2. The Black Cauldron
  3. The Castle of Llyr
  4. Taran Wanderer
  5. The High King
  6. The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain (short stories)

(And also a reference guide book, The Prydain Companion by Michael O. Tunnell which is a lot of fun — and has a foreword by Lloyd Alexander.)

I am long overdue for a Prydain reread… I’ve read all of them several times but it’s been a few years since my latest reread and I’m itching to delve back into that beloved world with those awesome characters and epic events! Hopefully soon!

WestmarkTrilogyThe Westmark Trilogy:

  1. Westmark
  2. The Kestrel
  3. The Beggar Queen

I LOVE this trilogy!! It’s set in an 18th-century-type setting, which is my second favorite time-period (after medieval)… I remember being positively jittery when I finished reading them for the first time, because I loved them so much! Also, Florian is the best ever. ❤ Just sayin’.

VesperHollyThe Vesper Holly books:

  1. The Illyrian Adventure
  2. The El Dorado Adventure
  3. The Drackenberg Adventure
  4. The Jedera Adventure
  5. The Philadelphia Adventure
  6. The Xanadu Adventure

The Vesper Holly books are just a delight! Vesper herself has such charm and wit and cleverness, and her sidekick Brinnie is like a Watson to her Holmes as they go different vaguely fictional places around the world that capture the feel of real civilizations. And so much fun and adventure and humor!

Standalones

The standalone novels I own… Time would fail me to tell all about the delights of each one, but they each have their own special tales!

  • The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen
  • The Iron Ring
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian
  • Time Cat
  • The Rope Trick
  • The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio
  • The Wizard in the Tree (the only one of his books that I own and haven’t read yet… I’m hoping to read it this week!)
  • The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man
  • The Arkadians
  • The Gawgon and the Boy
  • Gypsy Riska
  • The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha

ExtraCopies

Aaand I can never resist getting extra copies of Lloyd Alexander books I already have… Yes, it’s a bad habit. XD But here’s a stack of them…

FaveLloydAlexanderBooks

Probably my three favorite books by Lloyd Alexander: The Book of Three (book 1 of the Prydain Chronicles); The Kestrel (book 2 of The Westmark Trilogy); and The Iron Ring, which is my very favorite standalone novel by him — loosely based on mythology from India, it’s just epic and awesome and all around amazing. ❤

There’s also The Town Cats and other Tales, a collection of short stories about cats which is very fun… He had a thing for cats. 😉

Of books that I’ve read but don’t own, there are The King’s Fountain and The Fortune-Tellers… (Hurray for libraries!)

And I would like to sometime read (mostly picture books):

  • The Wizard in the Tree
  • The Four Donkeys
  • The House Gobbaleen
  • How the Cat Swallowed Thunder
  • Dream-of-Jade: The Emperor’s Cat

And, perhaps someday, some of his adult novels/biographies etc. that he wrote. 🙂

LloydAlexanderShelf

My shelf of books by Lloyd Alexander

And before I go, here’s a perfectly charming interview with the man himself! It’s so enjoyable to watch and has a lot of humor and wisdom and good thoughts about writing and books and fantasy and his own stories. ^_^

Be sure to check out part 2 and part 3 of the interview as well!

It is in this interview that you can hear him say himself the marvelous words I feature on the side of my blog:

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

–Lloyd Alexander

***

Have you read anything by Lloyd Alexander? Do you have a favorite?

And if you haven’t, do consider checking one out! They are one and all beautiful, timeless, adventurous, and fantastical books! 🙂

FIFTY

(What? People who do NaNoWriMo are totally allowed a couple weeks of ignoring their blogs after Novemer 30th… *cough*)

1st order of business: This is my fiftieth post on this blog!

50th

2nd order of business: I managed to write fifty thousand words in November and therefore win NaNoWriMo 2014!

Winner-2014-Web-Banner
…Hence the fifty in the title. (Yay double meanings!)

This was my craziest NaNo yet.

And if you know anything about my first NaNo (completely pantsing the story, no idea what I was doing, had to write 8k the last day to finish), you will understand the full meaning of that statement. Allow me to explain.

My brain is tired so I’m going to do a list. Okay? Okay. List it is.

  • My story was not plotted because I had not had time before November 1st hit.
  • Which means I was effectively pantsing my whole NaNo. I’m a planner. This was not going to go well.
  • I was also MLing. NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons (that’s me; fancy title, eh?) are volunteers who organize local NaNoWriMo regions, so I was taking care of a regional forum, answering question, and helping organize and attend write-ins and other events. I was also writing regional broadcast messages to keep my Wrimos up to date and encouraged. This all may sound like a walk in the park, but when you throw it on top of trying to write 50,000 words and keep up with regular life… it’s gets a little less walk-in-the-park-y.
  • All of this, while I was getting ready for, and then gone on… a roadtrip. Out of state. For the last two weeks of November.
  • Let’s just say I made enormous use of 15 minute word wars against myself. And basically freaked out all month long because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to 50k.
  • And I wrote a lot in the car.
  • A lot.

My view for much of the trip. Yay music.

I also wrote extra for a couple days when we were snowed in ish at my uncle’s longer than we thought we’d be.

View out the window. Who knew my uncle lived in Narnia?

Which brings me to my next point.

Snow.

Snow, people. As you may be aware, I live in that very big and very warm state known as Texas. Although it is not actually a desert full of cacti as many non-Texans seem to believe (at least not the part I’m in), snow is a rare occurrence. We get an occasional dusting. Every few years or so. Once, I remember we got two or three inches. Unheard of, I tell you! But on this trip… I saw SO much snow. There was like 8 or 10 inches at my uncle’s. It was so weird/awesome. I discovered, for instance, that the snow crusted on the top so that you sort of had to break through it, and you had to lift your feet high when you walked, because my goodness, that snow was taller than my boot!

(…Okay, so I don’t have all that much experience with multiple inches of snow. I’m from the South. Sue me.)

Moving on. And whoops, I fell out of my list.

Well, the long and short of it is, despite perils obstacles (and icicles. Another thing about traveling north-ish in November: IT’S COLD. ALL THE TIME. I was so happy to get back to my warmish southern sunshine, and 60 degrees felt so WARM in comparison. Normally at 60 I’m shivering in several layers of hoodies and sweaters. But after constant 20s and 30s and even getting to 14 degrees–seriously WHY?–60 felt positively summerish. After getting home, I sat on the steps in the sun and rolled up my sleeves and it felt fabulous. Naturally the weather is laughing at me now and it’s nearly freezing all the time, so I’m back to my normal winter state as an icicle, but the contrast was nice for awhile there…)

Obstacles. I mean icicles. They weren’t really obstacles…

…Where was I? Icicles and obstacles. Right. Despite obstacles of numerous sizes and shapes, I pressed on intrepidly. In the midst of a crazy last-day-of-NaNo all-day writing event, closed in at the library with several other kindred spirits all typing madly away… I made it to the other side, triumphant with 50,000 words of my novel Heartseeker.

NaNo2014dashboard

It needs a ton of editing, and it’s probably only about two-thirds done. But it was a fun crazy journey and I love the story so far and made the goal of NaNo 2014 when I was sure this would be the first time in five NaNos that I would fail. But I made it!

2014NaNoStats

The day I caught up in the middle there was at said uncle’s house in Narnia.

…Of course as soon as I finished NaNo, I promptly collapsed and wanted to do nothing ever again after such a long and stressful month of craziness…

There is that…

But still.

Aaaand this post is not 50,000 words, but seems to be rapidly approaching it, so I’m going to cease and desist regaling you all with my epic adventures, and leave you with a bit of a photo-dump of some pics from my trip. Enjoy.

On the road…

Train

A TRAIN on a bridge next to the one we were crossing. So exciting. Made my day.

Christmas scenes are all apparently from snowy places. And I managed to catch one. So beautiful!

Christmas scenes are all apparently from snowy places. And I managed to catch one. So beautiful!

orphan's song

The only book that traveled with me, which I was reading during NaNo. THAT BOOK. <3<3<3 I must review it but cannot find the words to express how much I love it. (Soon, though.) Also pines. Because PINES. (Pines do not exist very much where I live. So they are exotic and beautiful.

And a baby dinosaur I met. (...Okay, it was at a museum.)

And a baby dinosaur I met. (…Okay, it was at a museum.)

A very blurry picture of inside a cave I visited.

A very blurry picture of inside a cave I visited.

Typing at my uncle's. You can't read the "NaNoWriMo" on my hoodie very well. But I wore that thing nonstop in November and it kept me nice and warm. <3

Typing at my uncle’s. You can’t read the “NaNoWriMo” on my hoodie very well. But I wore that thing nonstop in November and it kept me nice and warm. ❤

This was at a restaurant. I thought of Sherlock and freaked out. Of course I took a picture.

This was at a restaurant. I thought of Sherlock and freaked out. “Lucky cat.” Of course I took a picture.

It should say "Except on Party Business" instead. Doesn't it know it's the month of The Hobbit??

It should say “Except on Party Business” instead. Doesn’t it know it’s the month of The Hobbit??

In My Own Little World

Greetings, earthlings! (And… non-earthlings welcome too I suppose, if there happen to be any around…)

I return from my unannounced blog hiatus! *trumpet fanfare*

Camp NaNo wore me out and I had several life things to catch up on, so my poor bloggy fell silent… But now I’m back, and haven’t done an update on general stuff, so I think I will do that!

Updates!

Here are a few of the things I’ve been doing in the last couple weeks…

Blog: You may notice I’ve been doing a bit of tweaking to the blog… I updated some stuff in the side bar and stuff and updated the about and story pages and so on, so look around if you like. 🙂 I’ve also *ahem* been having a ton of fun making new graphics…

Blog Button

Blog Button

Playing with Pictures: The updated header etc. is due to my latest online obsession: Pixlr. A good friend told me about it some time ago and ever since I’ve been addicted to it. I’ve never done much more than very simple photo things because it’s never been important enough to me to bother buying something like photoshop. But this is free and easy to use and I must say I’ve been enjoying it immensely! Especially making book covers… So much fun!

Camp NaNo: I won! 10 thousand words in a month may sound low to most of y’all prolific writers out there (who I admire greatly from a distance) but I hadn’t done much writing at all this year until now so I was very pleased to make some headway on a some stories. I got nearly a chapter of The Invisible Mask done, and got well on my way into Snowfall at Kedran’s Wood, which I’m super excited about! I think I’ll probably write another scene or two and then take a break to try to figure out the crazy plot that’s all over the place and needs to be sorted before I go much further…

AprilCamp14

April 2014 Camp NaNo stats

Other than that, I’ve been doing miscellaneous other things including:

  • Enjoying the rain and cool weather. And, alternately, roasting in the heat. (Our weather keeps doing weird things…)
  • Eating cream cheese on crackers, my latest food obsession.
  • Going to a few writer meetings, which are always fun.
  • Reorganizing my bookshelves – I do that a lot, don’t I?
  • Discovering the wonders of perusing the story boards of friends on pinterest. All the pretty!
  • Brainstorming fairy tale retelling ideas for stories!
  • Which has also led to no longer being sure what I’ll write for this NaNo. Now I have three different ideas fighting each other in my brain over which one gets to be written…
  • And going out walking and taking pictures:

Thistles

That’s about it.

I have a few blog post ideas simmering in the back of my brain, including a long forgotten batch of Liebster award answers that I need to get to, and some general thoughts on writerly things that various blog posts have gotten me thinking about.

So hopefully you shall hear from me again, and soonish!

In the meantime, I’ll try to get back to doing writerly things. But I’m afraid that when all’s said and done, especially as far as sticking with one story and then getting distracted by a shiny new idea… this is me:

Could Not Catch Them All

(Remember that post I mentioned I’d written? That I said I wouldn’t post unless I ran out of things to post? Well here it is. I’ve yet to write the Writing-Anniversary post but I hope to do it soon… The last time I was about to write it, I ended up starting writing another book instead. Go figure. 😉 Anyways, here, a post.)

***

There was this song I heard once about a juggler in a circus, and I feel like him right now, trying to juggle too many things in my life.

“But as he threw his skittles to the sky and watched them fall
He knew: tonight’s the night he could not catch them – could not catch them all . . .”

In these last few months, I’ve been trying to do way too many things, which consequently means that I really haven’t been getting anything done. I keep piling on more and more obligations, whether real or imagined, to myself and to other people.

What with NaNo prep back in October, NaNo during November, all of December swishing by with Christmas, and January with a new year and new responsibilities, and then February gone in the blink of an eye, I feel like I should be back in September of 2013.

Trying to balance my writing, reading, internet of all shapes and sizes, life, family, friends, everyday things that need to happen, and other projects . . . I don’t know, it’s just gotten overpowering lately. There are, for instance, emails I haven’t replied to since way before NaNo, stories by friends I’ve promised to critique months and months ago and still haven’t, etc.

I really need to sit down and analyze everything I’m doing and should be doing and basically completely reorganize my life. But that’s going to take time too, time that I could be using to catch up on those things, or to take care of the immediate life things that keep coming up.

Sea

I feel like I’m in the middle of a body of water, and the shore is barely visible far away, but I’m paralyzed by the distance. I know I can’t get there so I don’t even try, and as I wait the water rises higher and higher and the shore gets further and further away until it disappears and I’m just . . . stuck.

More song lyrics? I’m reminded of “Gollum’s Song” in the credits of The Two Towers:

“We are lost . . . We can never go home . . .”

(Okay, that’s a bit extreme. Maybe not that one. I do, however, use that as the theme-song for one of the characters I’m writing . . .)

Just rather overwhelmed here. I kind of feel like I need a vacation. From everything.

Buuut first I would want to catch up on all those things so I wouldn’t feel burdened by them . . . And the guilt cycle starts over again. Heehee.

I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, or why I’m spending the time to say it on my blog since it’s doubtful that it’s interesting or edifying. I guess I just want to say that if I vanish sometimes, this would be why, and also as a sort of mass apology to anyone who’s reading this who feels like I’ve abandoned them with not emailing or critiquing things I said I would do.

And I don’t know if anyone has suggestions either. Everyone’s lives are different. And I’m sure my problems are extremely petty in comparison to others — I’m not saying I have it really bad or anything and I really don’t want to complain! I’m having a lovely little life over here and I’ve been extremely blessed. I’m just a little lost. Sorry to dull the day with my little problems, and if you’ve stuck with me this far then . . . Here, have some profound thanks and a hug and a cupcake.

Cupcake

On a more upbeat note: wordcount meters! I found the link from this lovely lady’s blog, and I just love them! They’re going to sit proudly on the side of my blog and urge me on to actual writing. 🙂