4 Extremely Convenient Moments In “The Jungle Book”

Don’t get me wrong, this is an undeniably adorable movie.

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And an oddly nostalgic one for me personally since I vividly remember watching it the night that my parents brought Timothy home for the first time. He actually interrupted my viewing of it and I do not believe that I have ever finished watching the animated version. Ever.

But that is a post for another time.

We are gathered here today because I hate convenience. That’s right, folks. I hate it. Convenience is not okay. Things must happen for a reason – in stories, at least. Sure, random coincidences are a thing, but the plot absolutely may not hinge on them.

And while that little boy with the bizarre red underpants is cuteness overload and Baloo is my spirit animal – literally – the new live-action Jungle Book had a few moments that were just over the top.

Number One – Buffalo

Once upon a time, there was a little boy chatting with a panther in the tall grass. All is well. Alas, but the little boy is being chased by a tiger – which, according to my calculations, is actually a recipe for Death. Because, prepare yourself for a little-known fact here, tigers are, indeed, faster than human boys.

But the panther has instructed Red Underpants what to do – run as fast as you can. Never fear, Underpants. This is sure to end well for you!

Enter buffalo. A whole stampede of them, in fact. They happened to be, uh, stampeding nearby and ran by just in time for Little Underpants to grab onto a passing pair of horns and hitch a ride.

And I am left wondering how Wise Panther knew. Are buffalo kind of like trains, always passing a certain point at the same time every day? Has this happened before? How often do he and Red Undies practice this feat?

Number Two – Bear

Once upon a time, Red Undies was having a polite conversation with Scarlett Johanssonn. Things were going just swimmingly. Except for the oft-forgotten detail that Scarlett Johansson is a boa constrictor and she is squeezing the life out of poor, small Undies.

Enter a bear.

That’s right, a bear. A brown bear, to be precise. Strolling in the jungle. Because brown bears are typically found in tropical jungles, you know.

Bow to my superior knowledge of brown bears.

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Number Three – Tree

Little Red Underwear is in trouble. An unusually large orangutan is trying to kill him. Poor Red.

Desperate to escape from the collapsing ancient temple that is Massive Orangutan’s dwelling, Undies actually throws himself out of a thirteen-or-so story window. Normally a drop from such a height would prove mortal but luckily for this underwear-clad young gentleman, someone has planted a large and seemingly soft tree just under that particular window.

Red Underpants emerges unscathed. Adorable as ever.

Number Four – Language Learning

Once upon a time, Little Undies was educated. We never see this onscreen, of course, but I would say he attended a rather prestigious university based on all the languages he knows. It is truly remarkable.

He can speak Boa Constrictor, Brown Bear, Panther, Tiger, Orangutan, and Wolf fluently. Unfortunately, it is not enough. Gibbon and small-pear-stealing-cat still evade his grasp.

Looks like our friend Underpants needs to head back to school…

But seriously. This movie is precious.

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Have you seen the new live-action Jungle Book? Isn’t it precious? Doesn’t convenience drive you insane? What is the most infuriatingly convenient moment in fiction you know of? Share in the comments!

My True Love… Hamilton

For those of you who don’t know, the musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and then starred in a musical about the founding father Alexander Hamilton. Not surprisingly, it was titled Hamilton.

Your mind is blown, I know.

This musical has become important to me for a number of reasons and I’ve wanted to write a post about it for a while, so when my good friend Grace tagged me for the Hamilton-themed tag she created, I saw my opportunity to ramble about my true love.

Aside from the obvious fact that the songs are catchy and lyrically brilliant, Hamilton brings people long dead back to life again. This isn’t easy, but they did it.

And the story… where do I start? Hamilton’s story is one of ambition and friendship and hope, jealousy and rivalry and terrible mistakes. Perhaps more than anything, though, Hamilton is a story of forgiveness and redemption.

I don’t know about you, but history isn’t my strong point. It was never my favorite subject in school and even though I took American History, I clearly didn’t retain much as the name “Alexander Hamilton” meant nothing to me when I first heard it.

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I am proud to say that I could now easily reel off his story to you from start to finish, but that isn’t my point. My point is that even a non-history buff like myself can fall in love with Hamilton, and, to some degree, fall in love with history.

I mean, if Hamilton’s is such a powerful, moving story… what other stories in history did I overlook? It makes me want to start voraciously devouring history books, to be honest.

But before I am, ahem, run away with my emotions, perhaps I should answer some of Grace’s lovely questions, yes?

How did you discover Hamilton?

Through Sarah and Grace, actually! Sarah wrote a post on her old blog listing some of the writerly references that pepper this musical. I had never heard of this “Hamilton” thing before, so I was curious. Shortly thereafter, I watched this video of Stacey and Natalie from Studio C lip-syncing the song Nonstop. I fell in love. I wanted to be able to do that – to lip-sync that song as flawlessly as they did. So I proceeded to interrogate Grace about the details – a process she tolerated with admirable patience, I must say.

Who is your favorite character?

Alexander? Burr? Eliza?

I relate to all of them, for drastically different reasons.

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Like Alexander, I am ambitious in a way that most people aren’t. Perhaps ambition isn’t even the right word. More like… restlessness, dissatisfaction, hunger. Like Alexander, I find myself consumed with longing for something more, something better. This can be a good thing. As Eliza so often points out, Alexander made it incredibly far when you look at where he came from. Similarly, this restlessness makes me hardworking and determined to accomplish my dreams.

But as Hamilton so poignantly illustrates, ambition can also destroy relationships and people.

Burr, on the other hand, is an enigma to me. He is the opposite of Hamilton.

Hamilton is your stereotypical protagonist. The orphan who is alone in the world but knows what they want and are determined to do whatever it takes to get it.

I can relate to this.

Burr is… anything but stereotypical. He is also a highly motivated man, but in a different way than Hamilton – and this fascinates me. Burr coolly waits for the right moment… and then steps in and takes what he wants. And if Burr’s character was handled with anything less than superb skill, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to him at all. He’s nothing like me, after all. Fortunately, his character was handled with amazing skill.

Burr isn’t timid, he isn’t afraid – he simply realizes how much he stands to lose. So Burr made me realize something about the “hero.” Alexander has nothing to lose. So he can take risks that Burr can’t take. Burr wants to be Hamilton. He wants to be that reckless kid with nothing. But he isn’t. He was born into a prestigious family, and when his parents died “they left no instructions, just a legacy to protect.”

This made me realize something important: some of us are born into circumstances that allow for Alexander’s recklessness… and some of us aren’t. And that isn’t your fault. You have no control over the family that you are born into.

You gotta work with what you got.

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Perhaps Burr’s best quality is his patience. A lesson that hits home for me especially, as I am not patient. At all. I don’t sit around waiting for things to happen. To me. I get out there and chase them. There’s something so passive, so lazy about waiting that drives me crazy.

But Burr’s waiting isn’t passive. It’s active. He is lying in wait.

I can’t help but admire this.

And you know what blows my mind? This story is not the work of a talented author who thought, “Burr will balance Hamilton, Hamilton will balance Burr…” This actually happened. These people were real.

Eliza…

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Eliza is a beautiful character. She is gentle and trusting. She is good.

She loves Alexander wholeheartedly. And she possesses a certain innocence and sweetness that makes you want to protect her. Unfortunately, one cannot protect characters in musicals…

She is one of the first ones to recognize Alexander’s genius and she always tries to point him to the truth, she always pushes him to see the good – all that he does have instead of all that he wants.

Her ache to “be apart of the narrative, the story they will write one day” resonates so deeply with me. How many “side characters” are left out of the story? How many wives and mothers are standing just outside the spotlight, the silent, but true, heroes of these stories?

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Of all the characters in this story, Eliza may be the one to suffer the most. Her husband seems almost incapable of loving her as completely as she loves him. He leaves her behind. And then he breaks her heart.

But Eliza… she forgives him.

The song It’s Quiet Uptown is all about forgiveness. And it breaks my heart into about a million pieces.

It is important to me on so many levels. This song is incredibly sad but if this song was not in the play, Hamilton would be so dark and depressing that I wouldn’t be able to stand it.

Alexander admits that he what he did was wrong. He acknowledges that Eliza is the better person. He finally sees the strength and beauty that was in his wife all along.

This is important. It sends the message that Alexander’s behavior was not… acceptable. There are no excuses for what he did.

And Miranda doesn’t try to excuse him, or brush it off by saying, “Ah, what can you expect from a man like that?” as if great men cannot be expected to be held to the same standards of morality as “normal” people.

And it’s sad… because Alexander is so broken – “I spend hours in the garden… I walk alone to the store… I never liked the quiet before… the sign of the cross at the door… and I pray… that never used to happen before.” I am devastated for Alexander.

Eliza’s part of the song is equally sad. And I love that there is this closure, that Eliza does choose forgiveness. “Walking by her side, talking by her side… they’re standing in the garden, standing there side by side… he takes her hand… it’s quiet uptown… forgiveness… can you imagine? Forgiveness… can you imagine?”

Eliza is the most powerful character in this story and the reason it has the potential to be life-changing.

What’s your absolute favorite song?

If you think there is any way I’m going to answer this question with only one song, you are sadly mistaken, my friend.

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Dear Theodosia, That Would Be Enough, Wait For It, and It’s Quiet Uptown are the most emotional songs, for me.

But Nonstop, Room Where It Happens, and Guns And Ships are the most fun to sing.

What’s your dream role?

I’ve given this a lot of thought. When I watch a movie – or, in this case, listen to a musical – I immediately pick out which character I would most like to play.

Lafayette would be enormously fun and I have the hair for it. And it means being Jefferson as well who is incredibly witty.

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Alexander, obviously, has the largest role.

I love Eliza’s role and the broad emotional emotional range.

And Angelica, while I do not admire her character, has some fast rap sequences that would be fun to do.

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But, like Grace said, the ensemble gets to sing and dance in every song, not to mention cool costumes and incredibly difficult dance sequences.

What’s your favorite quote?

“I am the one thing in life I can control,” said by Aaron Burr.

So often I am tempted to justify my own laziness or bad attitude on my circumstances, but Burr is willing to accept responsibility for his own actions. Because even if we can control nothing else, we can control our own actions.

Who do you consider your “Hamilton Buddy” (someone who you can ramble, fangirl, or sing Hamilton with)?

Alas, no one appreciates Hamilton as I do. I am utterly alone in the world.

Weep with me.

Actually, I do wish I knew someone in person who would sing Hamilton with me. My little brother only barely tolerates my random explosions into song and has long since stopped encouraging them by participating.

Sarah and Grace do indulge me by flailing in comments, though. Thank you, ladies!

In the end, Hamilton is the story of a “great man.”

And while no one can deny that such great man are the ones who change the world, Hamilton shows that this “greatness” comes at a terrible price.

It is often those who are closest – spouse, children, and friends – to such revolutionaries who suffer the most.

Personally, it has always been my belief that you should… “start at home.” After all, what good is it to change the world – only to lose your own kids and destroy your own family or push away your closest friends?

So. Maybe we should rethink our dreams of greatness. Maybe the “greatest” men are the ones who are there for their children, who work hard, who love their wives, who never achieve status, who never get rich, who let go of their ambitions and dreams for those they care about, who we will never read about in history books.

Maybe.

I don’t know a great many fans of Hamilton, but I would love to see Kit, Evangline, and Julia‘s answers to these questions!

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1. How did you discover Hamilton?

2. Who is your favorite character?

3. What’s your absolute favorite song?

4. Music wise, which is better, Act I or Act II?

5. What’s your dream role?

6. What’s your favorite quote?

7. Describe what Hamilton means to you using only 3 words.

8. Who do you consider your “Hamilton Buddy” (someone who you can ramble, fangirl, or sing Hamilton with)?

9. How has Hamilton impacted your life?

10. What is the best thing about Hamilton?

So, tell me! Have you heard Hamilton? Have you heard of Hamilton? What is your favorite song? Who is your favorite character? Do you love history? What’s your favorite musical? 

The Big Reveal: Metal Hands, Metal Soul

I suppose I should start off by apologizing for the unintentional hiatus I took this month?

Ahem, well, yes. About that.

Firstly, I have Excuses. Obviously this thrills your little soul to the snapping point. Alas, I have been fighting a losing war with my health and my role in a musical production of Beauty and the Beast is eating up my weekends – time formerly spent nurturing my firstborn child, Story And Dark Chocolate.

Secondly, I must admit that I don’t know when my posting schedule will get back to normal – normal being something like two posts every week? Play practices will continue to take up my free time until June… and I had been planning to tell you guys that as a General Rule I hiatus during the summer when I have no schedule and can’t be expected to use precious brain capacity trying to stick to one.

So. This is awkward.

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We’ll just… see what happens, okay? I maketh no promises.

And now that I have gotten the preliminary excuse-making and apologizing out of the way…

I’m writing a new story, guys.

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Are you excited? I’m excited.

In the beginning, it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling… which is ironic, because I had no idea that I would be participating in a musical of that story and was also relatively unaware of the existence of the live-action film coming out in March. And, not that this has anything to do with anything, but now that I am in the musical, I am going insane with excitement for the movie! I will probably die from the strain before the 17th rolls around, but whatever. Unimportant details.

Where was I?

Ah, yes.

It was a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Sort of. Now, to give you a bit of background, I don’t love this story.

Not that there is anything wrong with it… it was simply never a favorite. In fact – and prepare yourself for something dreadful – I have never, to this day, seen the Disney’s iconic animated version. Stop glaring. I had a weird childhood, okay?

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As far as fairytales go, I was always more attracted to the ones with a bit more potential. Rapunzel and the Little Mermaid and Jasmine and Mulan. Shut up, I know she’s not a Disney Princess.

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Sleeping Beauty and Belle and Cinderella… well, they were boring to me. Sweet and good and utterly unrelatable. Obviously you are welcome to disagree, as I know some of you adored these classic characters. I just… didn’t.

So you’re probably scratching your head – and I must recommend quitting, because it’s a gross habit – at this point, wondering why I would choose a fairytale I don’t even like to write a retelling of. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either, to be honest.

My only real reason is that I feel the story needs “fixing.”

The Beast, for example. What is he, exactly? It is never made clear, but Disney’s version painted him as a kind of lion-bear-sabre-toothed-tiger hybrid with ram’s horns. Disturbing, honestly. And, forgive me for being dark, but I always wondered just what we were encouraging? Belle doesn’t fall in love with the Beast knowing that he will turn into a man. She falls in love with a beast… with an animal.

And this is, apparently, considered okay, normal behavior?

Yeah. Actually no. Not where I come from, sister.

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Another thing that bothered me hugely was that he transforms into a human as soon as Belle falls in love with him. This isn’t fair. This isn’t how things work. 

Ugly people don’t get magically hot, okay? They have to come to terms with the face they see in the mirror every day and learn – slowly, painfully – that the right people love them not because of how they look but because of who they are.

Wow, that just got intense.

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It’s just not right, okay? It’s not.

Besides, how would you like it if you fell in love with one dude and then got cheated out of him because he turned into somebody else? You wouldn’t like it. Belle fell in love with an ugly guy, ugliness and all. Change the ugliness, change the whole person and end up with one sad Belle.

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Therefore. I set out to fix these glaring mistakes. Enter a disfigured man with claws instead of fingers and a French teenager with attitude, a cursing problem, sociopathy, and short blond curls.

Because we are crushing stereotypes over here, alright?

And then… the story took on a personality of it’s own – I’m still not sure whether or not to be happy about this – and things evolved from there. It’s looking a lot less like Beauty and the Beast now…

Instead of being set in 19th Century London as originally planned, my story decided it was a fantasy of the same breed as The Songless. Rest assured, the world will be 19th Century Londonesque in the extreme. It’s just set a couple thousand years in the future instead of being historical fiction. No big deal or anything.

Tessa Emily Hall wrote an awesome post on Go Teen Writers about “the story of your heart.” This post inspired me to write what I love instead of vainly struggling to force this story to be something it clearly did not want to be.

As in The Songless, my story’s primary focus is the angelic beings who populate future-Earth.

Langdon is my “beast.” His parents altered him so that he could protect himself in a world that was becoming increasingly hostile to his race – they replaced his fingers with seven-inch steel claws.

Isabella was also altered, but in a far more invasive way. Her soul was removed, leaving behind a robotic, hollow shell of a teenage girl who only knows how to follow orders. And cannot read the books she used to love. However. Perhaps her surgeons did not do as perfect of a job as they first presumed. Isabella likes food, Isabella is lefthanded, Isabella has a sense of curiosity – all things that should not be true.

I’m calling it Metal Hands, Metal Soul. Because Anna said that sounded better than Hollow Steel, the alternate option. I was planning on calling it Mechanical Heart because of it’s anthem, Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling, but then I realized that monkeyeverything was using the same title for her serial story and I didn’t want to steal because stealing isn’t nice, kids. Learn from me.

So. In an effort to help you get to know my precious children, I am going to answer a series of questions Cait and Sky posted on their blogs for that purpose.

Shall we?

How and why did they meet?

Well, this one’s easy. Isabella is being used as a weapon against her own race. Since she has no emotions, she is uniquely suited to her job – annihilating all the others like her.

Langdon is simply one on a rather long list.

What were their first impressions of each other?

Langdon immediately noticed that something was off about Isabella.

Isabella, on the other hand, cannot form impressions of people.

So.

How would they prove their love for each other?

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That escalated quickly.

Ahem.

Who said anything about love? I mean, in just the last question I explained how the whole relationship is founded on Isabella’s mission to eliminate Langdon. As in, kill him?

Okay, fine. Isabella stays with Langdon when he has a seizure and subsequently, uh, does not murder him. Langdon breaks his promise never to hurt anyone again and kills an operative sent to kill Isabella.

What would be an ideal date?

Something involving food, undoubtedly. That was one of the ways in which this story surprised me. There is a truly shocking amount of food in it.

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This has nothing to do with the fact that I was unable to eat solid foods when I was brainstorming it.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Perhaps the fact that Isabella wants to kill Langdon? Maybe?

List 5 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)

My characters are, alas, not this well-developed as yet. The only food quirk I’m aware of is, well, that they love food. Especially cake…

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

The questions are getting deeper…

Isabella knows everything there is to know about Langdon because she read his file. But I suppose those are only the things that can be evaluated or measured…

Well, he tells her about his promise not to hurt anyone ever again. And Langdon is the one who discovers that Isabella’s surgery wasn’t entirely successful.

What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

Langdon won’t tell Isabella what happened that made him so terrified of hurting people. Isabella’s altered mind doesn’t understand the concept of secrets, so she is completely open about her past.

How would their lives be different without each other?

Well, Langdon would be dead, so his life would, quite literally, not be. Isabella would have been killed as soon as she outlived her usefulness and she may never have discovered the remnants of her personality.

How touching.

Where do they each see this relationship going?

They want to survive. There is no relationship, to be honest. Langdon is in his thirties and Isabella is a young teenager. And I doubt either of them will make it out of the book alive, so it doesn’t especially matter.

I find myself in a quandary, though, and thought perhaps you could help me. Now that I am more familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, I have thought of several retellings that I think would be fantastic.

Like… what if the story was told from the perspective of one of the girls in Gaston’s entourage?

Or what if Gaston really did love Belle, but she just hated him for some reason?

Or what if Belle rejected Gaston because she was in love with LeFou?

And, lastly, am I the only who has thought of the fact that the Beast has clearly gone through this whole abduct-a-random-village-girl routine before? What are the implications of this? A story about one of the “failed Belle’s”…

Let us commence to shriek together!

What are your thoughts on my new novel? Do you like it? Hate it? How do you feel about retellings? Yes or no? On a scale of one to ten, how excited are you for the live-action version coming out? Have you seen the Disney animated version? Do you love it? Did you grow up watching the Disney Princess movies? Which Disney Princess is your favorite? Which of my newest ideas piques your interest the most – Failed Belle, Belle And LeFou, Gaston’s Girl, or Nice Gaston? 

Unedited: Romance Edition

Because obviously you are so sick of me dumping my entire novel down your throat that you will most likely die of the frustration shortly.

Do I care? No, I do not.

You will continue to read my snippets. You will continue to say kind things like, “You are the next Tolkien!” You will continue to pledge your undying devotion to be my slave forever and read every word I ever write. Or I will… Well, I’ll just kill you with more snippets, that’s what I’ll do!

Sound like a plan?

Alright, let’s do it!

 

Vipande had been the only person she ever relaxed with. Because Vipande was Vipande. Her best friend. The boy she grew up with. The boy who was always pulling her hair. The boy who gave her her first black eye, her first fat lip. The boy who’d dared her to climb the tallest tree at home. The who’d nearly drowned her in the pond, holding her head under while she struggled but refused to admit defeat.

 

For a moment Mkali stood locked in a lethal embrace with her enemy. The woman’s face was mere inches from her own and for a moment Mkali stared into her eyes. What she saw there made her heart quail. Crazed pupils took up her entire eye; barely any white showed. And the pupils were black. Not just dark, like Mkali’s own or Itale’s or Kupwa’s. But black. Consumed with her own darkness, this woman had gone insane. And in that moment, Mkali realized the truth. This was what she would become.

 

“You were taught to kill on sight – kill first, ask questions later. And that as easy for you. Because you didn’t have to look into the eyes of the soul you killed and see yourself looking back. You killed from a distance. And so it never touched you.”
“Yes,” Mkali whispered. “Yes, that’s what I did.”
Itale placed his hand in the side of her face gently, contrasting to the coldness of his words. “Out here we kill without remorse. We cannot grieve every life we take. They are too many. And we are all approaching madness.”

 

“You’re ridiculous.”
Aleks only wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Lyn tilted her head back to look at the stars. They seemed so far away…
“I do believe the lady is ignoring me,” Aleks told no one in particular.
“Did you just use a respectful term for a woman?”
“Slip of the tongue, my dear.”
“I’m so relieved.”

 

“Forever?”
A ghost of a smile crossed Aleks’ handsome face. “Forever.”

 

Endelyn felt trapped in this timeless state of fiery pain and howling fury. She struggled wildly to free herself, but something held her fast.

 

“So what are we going to do?”
Aleks stood and dusted himself off as well as he could. The end result was that he was as sand-colored as before. “Get to water as soon as we can. I have an idea of where we are – and where the closest oasis is.”
“And if it’s too far?”
“If it’s too far, we die,” he said cheerfully.

 

“You mean if we don’t die first?”
“Exactly. If we don’t die first.” And then Aleks offered her that brilliant reckless smile that meant that he didn’t care what happened.

 

“Landric told me that you were a people in love with the desert – with the hot sun and the white sand and midnight skies full of stars.”
Aleks gave her a look she did not understand. “We are. We do.”

 

Endelyn examined him in the pale moonlight. He looked so boyish – always did, but especially now. Waves of still-damp hair fell almost to his broad shoulders. His eyebrows were dark, she noticed. Like the roots of his hair. Both stood out in sharp contrast to his flawless fair skin. Endelyn’s heart began to pound, her breaths to come in short gasps. She loved him. How had it happened? So swiftly, so silently? And against all the weight of her better judgement.

Come flail with me!

It is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with followup questions for these posts… Um. Tell me about your characters! What are they like? What color is their hair? Do you have any ideas for questions I can ask after posting snippets? Tell me everything!

I also need questions for my well-mannered villain Landric and his childhood friend Brand, so don’t forget to include those in your comment!

 

New Year’s Resolutions And How To Keep Them

Well, would ya look at that? Yet another post that should have been published before January 1st! I’m not so good with deadlines, okay? But I promise this is the last one. After this, we move on. Leave the past in the past, yes?

I am one of those unrealistic dreamers who makes New Year’s Resolutions. I know, I know. No one ever keeps those. Except… I actually have kept some resolutions for several years now? Oops. Guess I’m crushing stereotypes…

How do I do it?

Well, here are a few tips.

Be Specific

The more specific, the better. This year, I resolved to write a minimum of one page every day. I resolved to write three novels of 60 thousand words or more. And I resolved to boost at least one existing novel to 100 thousand words.

These are specific goals – and therefore that much easier to keep. Vague resolutions don’t get kept, son.

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Make ’em specific.

Make It More Difficult

If you’re like me, you make some of the same resolutions every year. Because if you could do last year, you feel confident that you can do it again, right? Right.

But I would challenge you to make these goals a little bit more difficult than last time. Raise the stakes a bit.

All my writing goals are examples of this. I wrote 50 thousand words last year. So I’ve raised the stakes a bit… we’ll see just how much I can accomplish!

Make It Easier

Admittedly, I fail every year at keeping some of my resolutions. Obviously, this makes me even more determined to accomplish the goal the next year. I’ve found that a good method is to lower the goal just a bit and achieve that first.

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For example, I sadly was not able to achieve my goal of 200 books last year, so I’ve set my goal on Goodreads for 150. Which, I must point out, is still more than 60 more books than I was able to read last year.

Be Realistic

This is simple.

Know yourself. Don’t be ridiculous. Do not make goals like, “Become supreme ruler of Africa. Buy a castle in Russia. Talk to humans. Leave the house. Read every book on my TBR.”

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Ha. Let’s not be crazy, okay? For us to accomplish our dreams, we must keep both feet planted firmly on the ground.

Make small goals. Make realistic goals. Keep your goals. Live your dreams. Be a dragon ruler.

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I am done now.

Okay, humans, let the shrieking commence!

Do you make Resolutions? Do you keep them? What are some of your resolutions for this year? Got any tips for how to keep resolutions? What are your sneaky tricks? Do you ever make the same resolution several years in a row?

9 Things I Fell In Love With In 2016

I know this is rather delayed, guys, and I’m sorry. Can we all just get used to the fact that I am not one of those cool bloggers who manages to do end-of-year wrapups before the year actually ends? I think I’ll be attempting to wrap up everything I did in 2016 all year, honestly.

Want excuses? I got excuses, mon. I just got back from a lovely roadtrip to see extended family – I also managed to get sick while I was there… let’s just say taking a plunge or two into freezing water while canoeing wasn’t my best idea. And then when I got back, I had surgery to have my wisdom teeth removed.

Good enough for you?

Good. Let’s move on.

I’ve never kept track of things like this before, but this year, well, it was a year of falling in love, okay?

1. Hamilton

Sarah and Grace will have to split the credit for this one. Sarah piqued my interest. Grace patiently answered my questions. Ladies, I am indebted.

Not to lessen their part in any way, but Spotify also played an essential role. Spotify means I can explore new music and find out whether I like it or not for absolutely free. See, I don’t like the risk of spending money on something I’m not sure about. Spotify is perfect.

So. Hamilton. If you have not yet experienced this musical, you need to. I’m not a big history person, guys. As embarrassing as this is, I didn’t know who Alexander Hamilton was. I didn’t know who Aaron Burr was. I didn’t know their story.

Now I do.

And I can honestly say that this musical has changed the way I feel about history. Here’s the deal. I love stories. So if someone can present history to me in the form of a story, I’m all in. But the truth is, we don’t know all the details. We don’t know how that figure in history felt at that moment. Sure, we have letters and journals sometimes. But we still don’t know. Not for sure. And that bothers me. Because no matter how well they bring it to life, I know that they probably got something wrong.

Hamilton brings history to life. And I feel like they got it right.

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I look forward to more stories like this one. More stories from history brought to life. More musicals featuring modern music and rap. I’m even into history now. Because I can see it in my head, now. It’s more real to me. These things actually happened. To real people. People like us, with complex emotions and personalities.

2. My tablet

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Fondly named “Alexander Hamilton,” my tablet has become my constant companion. I write lists and blog posts, read books, keep up with reading your blogs, respond to comments and emails, and jam to music on Spotify.

Seriously. If my precious Alexander runs off and gets shot in a duel, I will be crushed.

3. WordPress

You guys are probably getting sick of hearing it, but I used to blog at Blogger. And nothing much happened.

I switched over to WordPress because Blogger was eating gifs and text, and I couldn’t be happier with how it worked out. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not entirely sure whether it was my renewed effort to get to know other bloggers or my new site – all I know is that I have readers now, and I’m loving every minute of it.

4. Twenty-One Pilots

Wow. I have been hearing so much from my fellow bloggers about this duo, and, I’ll confess, I thought it was a little overrated. I had heard a couple songs on the radio and wasn’t terribly impressed.

I owe my change of heart to Abbiee. Basically, Abbiee said, “My soul is encapsulated in the song Forest,” and so I thought, “I’d like to see a picture of Abbiee’s soul.” Besides, I had been telling myself I’d check out their music for ages.

Wow. Again. These two young men are doing something so admirable. They’re fearlessly singing about some incredibly difficult things – suicide, depression, rebellion, doubt, religion, God – and they are doing with hope and a unique style I love.

Want a few reasons to check them out? They sing passionate songs. They do rap. They’re witty. Every song is filled with hope. They scream. A lot.

I love it.

Thanks, Abbiee, for convincing me.

A few of my favorite songs are Trees, True, Addict With A Pen, and Holding On To You. Another fun thing is that their music is always clean, which means my little brother and I can listen together. He loves the song The Pantaloon. In case you were wondering.

5. Spotify

You probably saw this coming, but how could I overlook my dear friend?

As I mentioned earlier, Spotify gives me a way to find new music risk-free. I’m not spending any money. And if I hate a band or a song, I can delete it – delete the whole playlist, if I must.

Before I had Spotify, I didn’t get to explore much in the music world. Now I eagerly try out any and all recommendations I receive.

Oh! And another thing. Abbiee also inspired me to go absolutely crazy with the playlists. She did this completely fantastic tag where she explained how she creates playlists for every novel she writes. So, taking a leaf out of her book, I decided to not only create a playlist for each of my writing projects, but also to create playlists for each character, for writing in general, and for certain types of scenes.

6. Musicals

Okay, I’ve kind of been obsessed with musicals for a while. But I realized it this year. Yes, Hamilton had something to do with it.

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But then I started watching The Phantom of the Opera on YouTube. And Kit recommended Broadway’s Little Women. And I auditioned for Beauty and the Beast.

So, yes. I think it’s safe to say that I am obsessed.

7. Writing

For many years, I kept quiet about my writing. Blogging forced me to open up, and, but by bit, I spilled my guts and realized that there were other people on this planet like me with whom I could screech about the agonies of writerliness.

And so I made friends and came out of my shell. I’ve embraced it, guys. I’m a writer. A proud one. People can think whatever they like – I will not be shamed.

8. Blogging

Man, I could write an entire post about how much I love blogging, okay? Actually, it’s in my draft list right now.

But, briefly, let me say blogging is one of the great joys of my life. I’ve made friends. I’m being proactive about my writing career. I have something that is my own and I’m in charge – the power!

9. NaNoWriMo

Hear me out, friends.

NaNo is one of those things that works for some people… And decidedly does not for others.

I just happen to be one of the lucky few it works for. The peer pressure motivated me to do something I never would have done otherwise.

Ironically, I don’t plan to do it next year. Or for several years after that. Why not, you ask? Next year is my senior year in high school. And I desperately need to graduate. After that comes four grueling years of college.

So. While I rabidly recommend NaNo to you, your cat, and other stray animals and random women in grocery stores, I myself will not be participating.

There you have it, friends!

Let us commence to shriek together in the comments!

What did you fall in love with this year? Any music recommendations for me to try out on Spotify? Have you listened to Hamilton? If not, you are missing out, my friend! Any other musicals you are obsessed with? Have you ever auditioned for a play? Does your device have a name? Do you have a favorite band or singer I should check out? Are you on Spotify? Can I stalk you?

Unedited: Beginnings Edition

Alright, folks!

Back by popular demand – oh, hush – are…

The Snippets!

I wish I could make them all pretty for you, but let’s face it, I am far too lazy to find pictures and edit my words onto their surfaces. So you will just have to be content with the words.

 

She never spoke to me. Not once. I knew that she could speak, but she simply refused, retreating inside herself instead. Her self-imposed silence lasted twelve years. Perhaps it would’ve been more merciful to let her die.

 

“You come, too,” he said breathlessly. She tried to pull her hand away, but he wouldn’t let her. He had never been convinced that she understood him when he spoke, but he was sure now. She knew. She took a step back, their joined hands dangling limply between them. With a sudden tug, Aleks pulled her into his arms.

 

Endelyn could feel each blade of grass that pressed against the bare skin of her legs. She could feel the breath of wind that caressed her face and blew her hair up off her neck and moved silently through the grass. Shed could feel every fiber of the rough material of her dress as if chafed against her skin. She could feel it all. So many sensations. It was agony. It was ecstasy. She was alive for the first time. And then, when she opened her eyes, it was gone.

 

Those were not her eyes. So huge and dark, nearly black. Once they were blue, like the color of the sky on a sunny day. Mkali tore her eyes away, unable to sit there staring into the despairing eyes of the stranger she saw looking out at her.

 

Endelyn broke her stubborn silence only to curse him soundly in Nomad, telling him just what she thought of him in a string of colorful expletives. The corners of his mouth tipped up in an amused smile. He replied in easy, fluid Nomad.
“Thank you.”

 

In the darkness, far away, I can see a dim light. I move toward it, and it becomes brighter, its light stronger. I hear a steady hum coming from it. As it becomes clearer, I see that out is not a fixed orb of light as I had thought, but a thin, glowing thread that stretches on and on until it is faint in the distance and finally melts into the blackness.

 

A dry wind catches sparks rising from the campfire, making them dance erratically until they blink out. Dead. Dead, like everyone and everything around me. I get the sense that these people are fugitives, running for their lives. And now I’m running with them.

 

As if an afterthought, Makovu reaches for Moto’s hand. She just stares at it. Makovu goes ahead and grabs it anyway.

 

“I knew, even in the beginning, that I would have to pay a price… And it turned out that it cost me everything. The things that mattered the most. My soul. I made a deal with the devil.” She shrugs. ” I knew that. I knew that the price would be high. I knew that ultimately, it would destroy me. Funny, isn’t it, that my love for him drove me to do this, and now that it’s all over that’s what I had to give up? I knew right from the start that to do this… It meant goodbye.”

 

He was beautiful, Mkali realized. They all were, in a strange, twisted way that hurt her. They were the distorted reflections of Kwanza whom she had known.

 

Tell me your thoughts! Did you have a favorite? Or were they all just too beautiful for words (I hope they weren’t because I love comments so much!)? Do you have a favorite character? If I were to interview one of them, which one would you like it to be?

 

Breaking My Silence On Homosexuality In Fiction

This is not going to be a terribly lighthearted post, I’m afraid. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here…

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been hearing a lot about this thing called “diversity in fiction.” To be perfectly honest, I’m getting just a bit sick of the term…

Unfortunately, I’ve found that most of the time, when someone says “diversity,” they are not talking about representing different races, religions, or disabilities. They are talking about homosexuality.

Essentially, “diverse” means “homosexual.”

I might as well get it out where we can all see it – I think homosexuality is wrong.

Notice my wording, please. I did not say “I’m straight.” I was going to and, as of this moment, it would have been true. But all this nonsense of “I’m straight” and “I’m gay” just furthers the notion that some people just are. That homosexuality is something you are born with, something you can’t change.

Listen up, people. That ain’t true.

I firmly believe that homosexuality is a learned behavior. Which means we all have the potential to become homosexual. Let that sink in for a minute.

One more thing. I’m going to refer to the whole group as homosexual. Because I don’t particularly feel like banging out half the alphabet in all caps just to make people happy. They are all homosexual, no matter what special name they’ve invented for their brand of it, right?

Now. Here’s the deal. I think it’s wrong. We’ve established this. But I don’t judge. I’m no better than they are. They’re all wrong, I’m all wrong. We’ve all got problems. We’re broken. We need fixing.

So I don’t hate you, okay?

The question I’m struggling to answer is, “Do I want to read books, watch movies, and watch shows with homosexual characters?”

I’ve thought long and hard. And I’m still not sure exactly where I stand. I do know that when you’re confused about where you stand on something, you go back to what you know is true and proceed carefully from there. Holding tight with both fists to the truth. Don’t let go.

So. I believe homosexuality is wrong. I believe homosexuals are human beings, worthy of respect. I believe it is a storyteller’s job to represent all people and to do it well. I know homosexuality in fiction makes me uncomfortable.

That is the truth.

Perhaps you don’t see where I’m going with this. My apologies for rambling. My point is that I read books where wrong behavior is portrayed all the time. And it doesn’t bother me.

I’ve read books about murderers and despots and serial killers and psychopaths of every variety. Occasionally, they are not even the “bad guy.”

And yet, I must guiltily admit that I have never read a book about a homosexual. Furthermore, I have only read a scanty few where homosexuals even made an appearance – and only then so that they could repent and turn into nice little heterosexuals.

I recognize that this is wrong.

I need to do something about it.

But what? Homosexuality makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps because I am more aware than most just how easily that could be me.

Should I read or watch something that I find revolting?

I did not watch or read Fifty Shades Of Gray. I refuse to. The behaviors betrayed are wrong. And no one has accused me of being prejudiced against abusive men and abused women because of that decision.

I don’t want to read or watch something that paints homosexuality as right or okay.

The problem? There are no books with homosexual main characters where their sexuality is conveyed as wrong. It simply is not done. Or if it is, I don’t know about it.

As a writer myself, things become still more complicated. More and more, I am faced with the undeniable fact that it is up to me… Up to me to do what I don’t see anyone else doing.

I should be writing homosexual characters. I should be doing it well. And I should be showing that it’s wrong.

Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised by your reaction, but I’m envisioning a recoil of horror. I don’t have a large enough following to make any homosexuals angry, but I’m not entirely sure where all of you stand on this issue? If I had to guess, I’d say most of you agree that homosexuality is wrong. But how will you feel about my stance about writing it into our stories? I simply don’t know.

Talk to me, please.

The Beautiful People Meme Is Not Dead, Thank Goodness!

I don’t know about you, but I was beginning to get scared. Not that Cait and Sky had died, exactly, but that they were now mortal enemies and would never post a Beautiful People or Beautiful Books meme again.

Well, we can all breathe a nice, long sigh of relief. Just maybe not all at once or we could knock over an old lady or a small building in Indonesia. Never let it be said that I do not look out for small elderly folk and their homes.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Beautiful People is, at long last, back!

Without further ado… The Glorious Questions!

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What were your writing achievements last year?

I wrote over 50,000 words and will  never get tired of saying so. I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in the history of the earth. I finished the novel I have been working on since I was a little girl. It is my child and I couldn’t be more in love with it.

And this may be the first time I have finished anything? Just a minor detail, of course.

What on your “writerly to-do list for 2017?

Most of my resolutions – yes, I make them – were writerly, actually.

For example, I resolved to write at least three drafts of 60,000 words or more, to write one page every day – a resolution I failed on the first day of the new year – and to bulk up at least one of my existing drafts so that it is at least 100,000 words long.

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

Firstly, I can’t help but point out that is not, in fact, a question? But since I have a large and generous heart, I will answer it anyway. I know, I know. My benevolence knows no bounds.

I’m currently focusing on a Beauty and the Beast retelling… though a temptingly shiny idea introduced itself to me awhile ago and I am excited to see where that may take me.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

In 2016, I realized that it is wildly fun to write dialogue. Wildly. Somebody should probably stop me before I hurt someone or their pet monkey with my witty banter.

The problem? It has made me just a little bit scared of writing description.

So clearly there is some room for improvement there.

I see myself at the end of 2017, for starters. I would love to see myself on an exceptionally large throne made of pointy black stuff and dressed in new jeans and a flowy top made of silk… but, somehow, I feel in my heart that this is not to be.

Describe your general editing process.

Also not a question. Still, I shall answer.

I hide my draft and try not to think about it. And fail miserably. Then I–

I haven’t gotten past that point yet, actually. Sorry.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

I don’t have much to compare it to? As I mentioned, I’ve never done this before.

Oh, well. I will impulsively say seven. Because it was not as messy as I hear other people saying theirs is, but I will probably end up rewriting the entire thing due to my unfortunate perfectionist tendencies.

What do you like most about your draft?

All of it… except for the writing.

You think I’m trying to be witty. I’m not.

It’s the truth. I adore my characters. My setting is gorgeous perfection.

But the writing? Well, it needs much work.

What are your plans for your novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Sending it off to beta readers would be quite an adventure, wouldn’t it? I’ve had a few people offer… but, honestly, I have no clue how the whole thing works. How much money it costs.

Money has to be taken into consideration because I don’t have any.

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Go sleep for a few years. When you wake up, bury that thing so deep that your great-grandchildren will never find it. Do not think about it on  penalty of death. Only think of other things. Expand your mind with activities like reading, writing any story but that one,  being knocked over by Inspirations, creating worlds, consuming chocolate…

Wonderful advice, is it not?

Let us commence to shriek together!

Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017? Where would you like to see yourself? Do you ever get knocked over by Inspirations? What should I do next in my Editing Process? Does anyone know anything about beta reading and how I can go about it without spending money? Do you have questions for my well-mannered psychopath Landric or his best friend Brand? Tell me everything! And don’t forget to include a link to your Beautiful Books!

A Survey… For Me, Not You

Nobody panic! You do not have to fill out anything.

Actually, I’m joining the linkup hosted by Perpetual Page-Turner to answer all-the -questions-ever-thought about the books I read this year. If you enjoy such nerdiness as well, I suggest you head on over there and join the fray.

Bookishness…

Number Of Books You Read:

93. Ta-daa!

Number of Re-Reads:

Uh… all of them?

Okay, okay. You got me. They weren’t all rereads.

Genre You Read The Most From:

Fantasy, Christian, or Classic.

I don’t track these things too well?

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

The Great Gatsby.

It was assigned for school and… and I liked it? Strange.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic. I feel bad even saying that because I’m positive that this man’s story has inspired thousands of people. He’s an awesome guy. But this book just didn’t impact me the way I expected and hoped it would.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

The Safe Lands trilogy.

I began this series once before and hated it. Quit the first book before I got halfway through. But then I thought… “I should’ve given it more of a chance.”

So I tried again. And loved it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I don’t do this much? Because I am surrounded by people who don’t read, so…

However, I’m constantly shoving the Hunger Games trilogy down willing and unwilling throats, so we’ll go with that.

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

How is this one question?

Best series? The Song of Seare trilogy.

Best sequel? Beneath the Forsaken City or Outcasts.

Best finale? The Sword and the Song, by three miles at least.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Robin McKinley. Lynn Austin. F. Scott Fitzgerald.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Both Sunshine and Shadows were unusual reads for me.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

In Between by Jenny B. Jones. My first encounter with Jones was when I read her book There You’ll Find Me, an instant favorite. For some strange reason, In Between was free on my tablet and recognizing the author of Finley’s sass, I immediately gobbled it up.

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I would say “most of them” because I am Queen of Rereading, but one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read only books that are new to me – absolutely no rereading allowed.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Sunshine had a pretty cover.

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I also like these…

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11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Omar from the Safe Lands trilogy.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

Fahrenheit 451 and Jacob Have I Loved were both gorgeous.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Either the Safe Lands trilogy or the Song of Seare trilogy. Both series unabashedly wrangle with some incredibly difficult topics. Have I ever mentioned how much I love that?

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Great Gatsby. Fahrenheit 451. Jacob Have I Loved. Blue Like Jazz. Oliver Twist.

All of them, basically?

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

Hope you plan to be here for awhile…

“For a moment it hurt. It hurt a lot, like it had the night after Dad had died, when the world that Mom and Ran and I lived in shattered into millions of sharp little pieces, and we were walking around on the slivers, so every step cut into us, and all we saw around was empty and broken. When we found out that people die when they shouldn’t. That stuff happens, and sometimes it happens to you.
That the world was nothing like I’d thought it was.”

Shadows, Robin McKinley

“Living is dreaming.”

Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace

I plan to write an entire post about the amazing quotes of North To Freedom, so I’ll leave you in suspense for those…

“Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words.”

Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller

Okay, that’s all. That last one sums me up perfectly, by the way.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Scarlett was the longest book I read this year at 884 pages long. Goodreads refuses to tell me which book was the shortest.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

I was shocked by Deerskin and Rebels, both in a not-happy kind of way.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Katniss and Gale. I mean Katniss and Peeta. I mean Katniss and Gale?

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The relationship between the three brothers, Mason, Levi, and Omar in the Safe Lands trilogy. Also Maggie’s relationship with her best friend and her relationship with her younger brother. Jake’s relationship with Lois, his baby dragon. Conor’s relationship with Eoghan. Finley’s relationship with Sister Maria and Mrs. Sweeney. Sylvi’s relationship with Ebon.

What? I like non-romantic relationships.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

In Between, by Jenny B. Jones. For aforementioned reasons.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Ha. No. I do not read books this way. I do not know what peer pressure is.

No, I’m serious. I never read the books that are recommended to me. Not that I don’t love it when you make recommendations. I do. I’m just… terrible at actually reading them.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Con from Sunshine. And Guy from Fahrenheit 451.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

I don’t think I read any books that were published in 2016 in 2016. Actually, I’m reasonably sure that most of the books I read in 2016 were written before 1971. Yep.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Hunger Games and the Safe Lands trilogy.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. His sense of humor is perfect.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

Are you looking at me? I do not cry. Ever.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

If I say The Great Gatsby one more time you will hunt me down and steal all my books in my sleep, and, while that would ultimately be a good thing because I would retain my sanity, but I actually kind of want the books more than my sanity, so I will say…

The Great Gatsby.

Just kidding… Jacob Have I Loved. Happy now?

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Great Gatsby. Ouch. Consider soul officially crushed. Apparently I enjoy my soul being crushed, though…

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

I’m gonna say Pegasus by Robin McKinley. It had zero romance, human-animal friendship, animals-who-acted-just-like-humans-but-weren’t, and essentially no plot.

In a word, unique.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Deerskin. It was… awful. Never read this book. It is not okay.

 

Blogishness…

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

How am I to answer such a question?

I rediscovered Abbiee‘s blog that makes me want to eat waffles, go indie, and have gorgeous hair. I discovered Kenzie‘s blog of spunk and randomness. I rediscovered Christine‘s blog and got to know Christine who is like the big sister I never had. Except I have three big sisters, but whatever. I also met Anna who has become a dear friend. And Kit who is apparently my long-lost twin?

I’m gonna go cry stormily in a corner now because I like you all so much.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

Well, this is easy. I only wrote one. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

How should I know? You guys can vote in the comments.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I don’t participate in most of those things… I am, after all, an introvert, so you can’t exactly expect me to betray my true self and be social, right? Right.

However. I do participate in Cait and Sky‘s monthly Beautiful People linkup, because I know Cait and, even though she is famous, she is not scary and I like her.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

By far the best moment was when I realized that for the first time in two years of blogging, I had an audience.

Like, humans wanted to read my words? Totally unprecedented. I’m still in shock, to be perfectly honest.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I suppose that my biggest struggle is comparing myself to other bloggers. Like, “She started at the same time I did and has triple the followers and great hair! How does this happen?”

Stuff like that.

Otherwise, my experience has been fantastic. No rude or abusive comments, no trolling, no drama.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

I don’t monitor views so much? Comments, on the other hand… Well, suffice it to say I rabidly stalk the comments.

I got 54 comments on my post about being nominated Sunshine Blogger. But the numbers might be a bit warped by the fact that Sarah and I started debating Hamilton in the comments?

Personally, I loved when I shared snippets for the first time and everyone said the sweetest things imaginable. That was fun. And made my face hurt from smiling too much.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

As some of you know, I moved my blog to WordPress in September. Before that I had been blogging at Blogger and I had essentially no following there.

So.

The thirty-something posts that I wrote to my nonexistent audience were moved over and immediately found their way into the deep dark recesses of the forgotten past. I wrote new posts, I got new followers… Nobody goes back to read the old ones.

Basically, any of those posts could qualify.

Honestly, I don’t mind. My writing style has become much more decided since then, so I shudder to think what drivel you would find should you read them…

Just don’t read them, okay?

And then there are other times when it would seem that my timing was off, or I got a little too nerdy for my own good.

Wanna make my day? Check out this bit of rambling about the Hobbit movie trilogy or this piece of nerdiness about the Lord of the Rings books.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Um. That nearly every classic ever written is free on my tablet? I may or may not have squeaked excitedly like the small bookish mouse that I am to see so many books piling up on my virtual shelves.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Alas, I did not.

I set my goal on Goodreads for 200 books. This was kind of a wild guess? I had never tracked how many books I read in a year before and 200 seemed about right…

Whew! That was a lot of surveyishness. I am exhausted and must go sleep now.

Before I go: What was your favorite post of mine this year? What was the best book you read this year? Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? What are they? What was your best blogging moment this year? What book crushed your soul this year? What book made you cry? Did you discover any new authors? Go on, scream at me.