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.

2016 Character Awards!

So Cait designed a lovely little Character Awards post that she invited us all to politely steal. Because impolitely stealing things isn’t nice.

So I did. Politely stole it, that is.

Now, feel warned. Cait’s questions are somewhat tailored to someone who reads more YA than I do. And so you may notice that my answers don’t always fit quite right… or that I bend the rules a bit. My apologies, Cait.

Personally, I do a great deal of rereading and I read a few classics and a bit of nonfiction. So obviously I had to… tweak things a bit.

Before we get to the, um, ceremony, you should know one last thing. I read 93 books this year. Aren’t you proud of me? I am thoroughly proud of me. You should be, too.

Okay, I’m actually a little disappointed? I set my goal on Goodreads for 200. I thought I could do it. I’ve never tracked how many books I read in a year before… 200 seemed quite reasonable.

Alas, either I overestimated how many books I can squeeze into one year… or I had a bad year in the Reading Department. I think it was the latter? This year was weird in the Reading Department… I had my first reading slump… and ended up hiding from certain scary books for months… books that may or may not be titled Don Quixote and The House of the Seven Gables…

I feel myself beginning to hyperventilate. Breathe, breathe, breathe…

Okay. What if we start the ceremony, yes?

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1. MOST RELATABLE CHARACTER

I’m gonna be that annoying person who can’t decide and say Wheeze from Jacob Have I Loved and Katie from In Between.

I related to Wheeze’s circumstances. Like Wheeze, I sometimes struggle with feeling like I will never step out of my siblings’ shadows. After all, there are a lot of them. And they are all so incredibly talented. It’s hard to feel… special.

Katie’s, on the other hand, were nothing like mine – but her personality was. We’re both dramatic and love good clothes and chocolate and accidentally memorize plays that we’re not actually in. Oops?
2. MOST PURE AND PRECIOUS ANIMAL COMPANION

Hix, one of the “shadows” from, well, Shadows, is adorable. As is Lois, the baby dragon Jake adopts in Dragonhaven.

I was also sorely tempted to mention the baby dragon in my novel, The Songless. However, as it is not technically published yet…
3. FIERCEST FIGHTER

Orual, from Till We Have Faces.

Ha! You thought I was going to say Katniss?
4. MOST AMAZING SIDEKICK

Jim, from Huckleberry Finn. Jim is a sweet guy. If you’re planning a raft trip, I seriously advise you to take Jim with you. It will just make your life so much better. I promise.
5. ONE YOU’RE SURPRISED YOU LOVED

Jemma, from the Safe Lands trilogy. Normally I do not like – nay, I detest – the Overly Sweet and Kind Soul of Goodness. But Jemma was refreshingly genuine and realistic.
6. BEST SASSMASTER

Without a doubt, Finley, from There You’ll Find Me.

“The least you could do is offer a little conversation.” Beckett dodged a pothole, keeping his eyes on the road.
“You want me to talk?”
“It would be the polite thing to do.”
“Okay. Let’s talk.”
“Any topic will be fine.”
“I’m going to sit here and silently think of one. Might take a while.”

Finley is my hero.
7. BEST ANTI-HERO AND MORALLY GREY GRAPE

Omar from the Safe Lands trilogy. I hope to get a review out soon, but Omar was the best part of this trilogy. I deeply appreciated that Williamson didn’t tack up a “Church-going Protagonists Only” sign up at the door. Omar is high on drugs for approximately half of this trilogy. But he’s still a good guy. He still believes. He just doesn’t act like it. Most of the time.
8. BEST WORST VILLAIN TO HATE

President Snow, always and forever.
9. TRULY ASTOUNDING WORST YA PARENTS

Katie’s foster parents from In Between. Not that they were that bad, but I certainly don’t recommend trying to win a difficult teenager’s heart the way they go about it.
10. TRULY ASTOUNDING BEST YA PARENTS

I don’t know that A Wrinkle In Time would traditionally be classified as YA… but I don’t read much in that genre, so bear with me. I’m going to say Meg’s parents. Though technically, only her mother is present for much of the story. Still. She is an awesome mom. I would like to abduct her and force her at gunpoint to adopt me.

Aerin-from-The Hero and the Crown‘s parents were also truly fantastic. I will abduct them as well.
11. TOOT TOOT BEST SHIP OF THEM ALL

Jo and Laurie. Duh. And Julie and the nasty doctor from Fire By Night. I have a weakness for nasty doctors with addictions to alcohol and sarcasm. Also a little bit of Maggie and Takahiro, from Shadows.
12. THE MOST IN NEED OF PROTECTION

Honestly, I want to protect them all?

But for the sake of brevity, I will only name two. Frankenstein’s monster and Jay Gatsby. Frankenstein’s monster is too sweet to survive in our harsh world and Gatsby is far too naive.
13. MOST BORING AS A BARNACLE

Robinson Crusoe from Robinson Crusoe. I have not sufficient words to describe my hatred for this disgusting hero. And for good measure, let’s throw Ben-Hur in there, too. In a fight to the death, I predict that Crusoe would barricade himself in a corner with materials he brought with him and Judah would agree to marry all the women in the crowd who shouted catcalls.
14. BEST LITTLE ROYAL

There were not a great many royals in my readings this year, unfortunately, but I did like Rowena from The Reluctant Duchess.

Oh! I know. Jay Gatsby, from The Great Gatsby. He was adorable.
15. VERY SURPRISED YOU’RE STILL ALIVE

Um, Katniss? And Rae from Sunshine. Both of you should have been dead… yesterday. Or last month.
16. BEST AT HORRIBLE DECISION MAKING

Archer Keaton from the Dreamtreaders trilogy. Though I must argue that bad decision-making is one of the fundamental building-blocks of every story. Frustrating? Yes. Agonizing? Absolutely. But true.
17. CUTEST DORK

Aaron from Bridge To Terabithia and Anne from Anne of Green Gables. So adorkable.
18. CLEVEREST LITTLE HELLION

Huck Finn from Huckleberry Finn. He is a rather devious little boy, but also completely lovable. I shall adopt him.
19. MOST IN NEED OF A NAP

Conor from the Song of Seare trilogy. This poor guy! He is always so exhausted… and covered in blood… and wounds… and beginning to fray mentally…

He. Needeth. Sleep.

Now.
20. WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT YOU

Finnick and Annie from the Hunger Games trilogy. Anyone with me here? They are seriously the most adorable couple to ever grace the pages of a book and I want more. How did they meet?

Scream at me about: how many books you read this year, how many books you wanted to read this year, whether this was a weird Reading Year or not, which character you would most want to read more about, your favoritest ship, the character that you are the most surprised is still alive, and which villain you hate the most. Go ahead. Scream at me.

 

7 Reasons Mary From “It’s A Wonderful Life” Is A Worthy Heroine

I have told you that The Polar Express is my favorite Christmas movie. But now I am going to confess that it was difficult to write… because I love It’s A Wonderful Life so much. I wasn’t quite sure which I loved more.

Of course, Jimmy Stewart is the heart and soul of the movie. But this year, something else jumped out at me as I watched the film for the millionth time.

Mary.

Image result for it's a wonderful life pictures mary

Talk about an unsung hero.

There are funnier characters. There are prettier women. There are better actors, to be honest. But as a character, there is something appealing about Mary.

So I’ve identified a list of qualities in Mary that I admire.

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1. Knows what she wants

Right from the start, Mary is the one who knows what she wants. In contrast to Violet, who selfishly wants everything, Mary has set her sights on George Bailey.

That’s quite a bit of vision for a seven-year-old girl, isn’t it?

Not only that, but she holds onto this dream all the way into her teen years. And when she sees that old abandoned house, she knows that’s where she wants to live.

I admire Mary’s decision, determination, and goals. And that she lets herself dream.

Image result for it's a wonderful life pictures violet

2. Doesn’t make herself ridiculous in pursuit of it

Again, there is such a contrast between Mary and Violet. Violet truly does make a fool out of herself in pursuit of George. And though he perhaps a bit distracted by Violet on occasion, I like to believe that he is never stupid enough to fall for her act.

Mary mentions at the dance that George “passes her in the street every day.” The implication is that he never noticed her. And that doesn’t exactly seem complimentary, does it? But if you think about it, it is. Tacitly, this implies that Mary was not like Violet – not trying to catch anyone’s eye, not trying so hard to impress that she looks silly in the process, not trying to flaunt herself.

Personally, I think that’s something to be proud of.

Something else that stands out is that Mary is dating Sam Wainwright when George and Mary get engaged. Now, we do get the impression that Mary’s mother is pushing for this, but you have to admire the fact that Mary isn’t “conveniently single” whenever George is around.

3. Has a sense of adventure

Living in a shabby house in your small, boring hometown doesn’t sound particularly exciting. At least, not to a person like me. Like George, I want to do things, go places. So I can’t say that I relate to Mary’s contentment.

But she does have a sense of adventure.

That house is seriously spooky. She has the spunk to be willing to fix it up and turn into a livable home. And she seems completely happy about touring Europe.

Maybe I can relate to this woman, after all.

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4. Is generous with her own money

When the bank crashes and the people are in a panic, it’s Mary who holds up her wad of cash – money that was to be spent on a luxurious honeymoon – and offers it to the scared citizens of Bedford Falls.

Every time I see this scene, I am struck by how sweet this gesture is. How many wives would be angry with their husband of only a few hours running off and leaving her on their way to their honeymoon? I’m gonna venture a guess that most of us in Mary’s shoes wouldn’t react the way she does.

5. Is not afraid of poverty

This might be the most obvious of Mary’s admirable traits.

Mary honestly believes that as long as she has George, she doesn’t need anything else. She’s happy to live in an old house someone else abandoned, in a sleepy little town she has lived in her whole life.

She doesn’t aspire to see the world, the way George does. She doesn’t dream of changing the world, the way George does. He is all she wants.

She’s not scared of a hard life. George cannot comprehend this.

6. Has a sense of humor

There’s this one scene where George comes home, feeling like a failure. Mary wakes up and George asks her point-blank, “Why did you Mary a guy like me?”

I adore her response. It makes me laugh.

She says, “To keep from being an old maid.”

She’s got spunk!

7. Protects her children

At the end of the movie, George is distraught and is taking out his frustration on his wife, his children, and his daughter’s teacher. And his daughter’s teacher’s husband.

I’m always impressed by how Mary is willing to absorb his anger toward her – but she refuses to let him scare her kids.

I can’t help but think, “Good for her.”

She understands that he is scared and frustrated, but she has to protect her children.

What say you? Who is your favorite character in It’s A Wonderful Life? Anybody for Mary? Anybody for Violet? Are there any other admirable traits I missed? What is your favorite Christmas movie?

Who Is The Hobo From “The Polar Express”?

The Polar Express is my favorite Christmas movie. So I hope you have seen it. The animation is slightly horrifying and the main character is never actually given a name, but there is one all-redeeming feature. The hobo.

Image result for the polar express hobo

That’s right.

There’s a hobo in this movie. If you didn’t want to watch it before, you surely do now.

Now, if you have already watched The Polar Express, you have probably wondered who the heck the hobo actually is.

This post is dedicated to that question. We’ll take a vote at the end.

1. Santa

This has always been the thought lingering in the back of my mind when I am watching this movie.

I mean, he does a spot-on Santa-laugh impression. And whips a random Santa hat out of his coat. And wears bright red fingerless mittens. And calls himself “the King of the North Pole!”

All good reasons to believe that he is Santa, to my way of thinking.

2. The Boy’s Guardian Angel

You would have to admit that this dude is always conveniently present when the boy’s life is in danger. Not to mention that no one else ever seem to see him.

Definitely seems personal to that particular boy.

3. A Fallen Angel

On the other hand, he is awfully dirty. And generally fits the image I’ve always had of a fallen angel trying to redeem himself.

Kind of like Clarence?

4. The Voice Of Doubt

This hobo seems just a tad cynical? So perhaps he is supposed to represent the more practical, realistic side of the boy’s mind. The side that doesn’t want to believe in Santa, or the Polar Express, or magic.

But that would make him the bad guy in this story… And that just doesn’t seem right.

5. The Boy’s Subconscious

You ever notice how the hobo always seems to be saying the exact same thing that the boy has just said?

Almost like… the hobo is a visible representation of how our brains work?

In which case, I would like to see what my personal Hobo looks like.

6. The Ghost Of Someone Who Died On The Train Or Was Hit By The Train

This story needs a retelling, don’t you think? So much possibility!

I mean, I’m still confused why the story is about the boy when the hobo so clearly has more story potential?

Oh, well. Not everyone possesses my creative genius.

7. Homeless Guy

I know. How boring.

And how many homeless guys do you know who can also disintegrate into mist? That’s what I thought.

So can we just agree that this idea is preposterous? Good.

Who do you think the hobo is? What would your Hobo look like? And most importantly, how many homeless guys do you know?