Sunday, November 12, 2017

Beautiful Books - "Snow White"

(Here I am, posting a day late again--sorry, everyone!)


So apparently I've been working on ECaPSSWR* for the last couple of months, but you'd hardly know it because I haven't properly introduced that messy little novella here!


*"Epically Confused and Possibly Schizophrenic Snow White Retelling." Not the final title. Ha.


But thankfully, Cait @ Paper Fury (who's publishing a book next year, hooray!) and Sky @ Further Up and Further In have Beautiful Books to help all writers everywhere introduce the world to their works in progress. Normally, the link up is called Beautiful People and focuses on specific characters, but from October to December it's all about the books themselves. Because it's NaNoWriMo season! (But you don't have to be participating in NaNo to do Beautiful Books.)


I'm not doing NaNo myself, so I'm something of a rebel in the writing community this month. I also missed October's BB post . . . So why not embrace that rebel identity, ignore the Beautiful Books rules entirely, and use last month's set of questions AND this month's set at the same time for double the fun? Right? Who's with me?


Okay. Fine. I wouldn't be that excited either. After all, nobody knows much of anything about this ECaPSSWR thing except that it involves Snow White. Well, I'm here to tell you that I don't know much more about it either. (Editing it this month is going to be so much fun. Heheh.)


Let's get on with it, shall we? Perhaps I'll gain some clarity along the way!




Beautiful Books October 2017



What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?


I'd like to say something grandiose and romantic like, "I've had this story burning in my heart for ten years, and now I finally have the chance to tell it!" In reality, it's more like I want to enter the final Rooglewood contest, Five Poisoned Apples, and I've had this idea for about three months.

Describe what your novel is about!


Here's where I run and hide, because IT'S A LOVELY LITTLE MESS AND I HAVEN'T GOT A SYNOPSIS. But I'm a bold and noble writing warrior who never backs down from a challenge, so I shall try!

Ahem.

Skadi wasn't born a hunter. But when tragedy forces her away from her home clan, she falls in with the seven huntsmen and soon learns how to shoot a bow and skin a deer. Yet a piece of her never got the chance to say goodbye to her old life.

When a mirror from the past draws her back across the fjord years later, she follows. Along the way, the mirror's reflections tell stories. Stories spun into strange shapes that do strange things to Skadi's mind. Meanwhile, a legendary lindwyrm stalks the woods, with its hungry gaze set on her second home--the home of the seven huntsmen.

Skadi will never let them burn, but according to the mirror, that means she must stand in the path of the flames. Mirrors never lie, people say. That may be so, but this mirror doesn't reflect the whole truth.

A bit rough, but writing that blurb did help me sharpen my view of the central conflict!

What is your book's aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!


It just so happens, I have Pinterest boards for most of my stories. And they happen to all be private boards, because I'm not the greatest at pinning down my characters' faces (pun intended), and so I have probably a dozen different people for each character. Likewise for many different settings. Those boards are all fun little messes. Buuuut I'll let you all in to the Snow White board, even if it's still a work in progress, just because I'm nice like that! You can check it out HERE.

Introduce us to each of your characters!


Skadi (Snow White): She's a tough gal, rarely squeamish, the kind with dirt on her knuckles and callouses on her palms. She tends to shoulder more than she should bear. Underneath her armor of independence, however, is a heart quivering with the thought that she'll never be enough.

Torben (the Prince): He's the youngest huntsman and Skadi's best friend. In fact, he's the one who saved her from the aforementioned tragedy in the first place, back when they were kids. He's a good shot with the bow, and his lighthearted jabs keep Skadi's smile from hiding too long.

Hackett: Former huntsman and now the leader of the Weylyn clan. Walks with a limp. Gruff as a grizzly but intensely protective.

Bruni: Oldest active huntsman, second in age only to Hackett. Wise. Doesn't talk much.

Sigmund and Osmund: Twin huntsmen, constantly bickering. Os is large, with an impressive beard. Sig is average, with impressive eyebrows. Os has a knack for pointing out the negative. Sig likes to argue just for the sake of arguing.

Alfrigg: Another huntsman, but a rather rotund one. (Pretty much the Bombur of the group.) Happy. Likes simple things. Somehow manages to bring home just as much prey as anyone else, despite is ungainly size.

Kjell: Second youngest huntsman. Skinny as a twig and fast as a rabbit. Extremely extroverted; always asks for a pal when Hackett sends him hunting.

And then there's also Skadi's deceased father, mother, and stepmother. The stepmother still needs a name, and she's the one who's mentioned the most in the story. She could be best described as glacial.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)


This time, I started with an undignified braindump in a fresh Word doc, in the form of bulleted lists and lots of crossed out words.

Then I discovered a way to outline that actually calculates the length of your story, thanks to author K.M. Weiland! I have this genius method to thank for finally staying under the contest's word limit! Even so, no outlining process is perfect, and my scattered thoughts resulted in a scattered first draft.


So let's commence that chocolate and howling.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?


Fixing it!

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.


1. It's Nordic-inspired, but still fantasy, so I can make up cool trees, invent adorable creatures called burrowbirds, and say Groundsleep instead of winter or Groundwake instead of summer.
2. It's set in the same wide storyworld as The Brightest Thread! Just much further north, and decades earlier.
3. It's more primitive than any of my other fantasy settings, which is fun.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

I think this is one part of the novella that's still a bit foggy. "What?" you exclaim. "Isn't the character's goal pretty much what THE WHOLE STORY HANGS ON?" Well yes. You're right. This might be why the story's having problems.

[Pinterest]
But I'm not entirely clueless.

First, Skadi wants to return to her home clan, Renshaw, to make peace with what she was forced to leave behind.

But then stuff happens--what she finds there isn't what she expected, and the mirror starts playing with her head--so then her goal changes to, "I have to defeat the lindwyrm before it decimates my other home."

Obviously it's the lindwyrm (a type of two-legged dragon) that stands in her way! Come on, guys. Did you really think I'd write a book without a dragon in it?

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


She lets go of some of her pride and independence, realizing that it's okay to ask for help. It's okay to not do something alone. It's okay to need family.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?


We tell ourselves a lot of lies, you and I. That's the heart of what this book is about. We too often swallow the lies other people say about us; but even worse, we adopt as truth the lies we spin about ourselves. And sometimes we can go for years without realizing it.

At the end of this still-untitled story, I hope readers have peeled back just one more layer of their hearts in order to confront their own lies and discover the truth.


Beautiful Books November 2017


Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?


My mental state is a cross between this:



And this:

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?


All stood still.

The birches, white branches stripped of most of their leaves, made not a rustle. No wind stirred. Even the hare in the middle of the clearing sat erect. Its long ears pointed straight up, and it was no longer chewing as it had a moment ago.

I held my breath. My whole body was strung taut as the bowstring I had pulled back against my jaw. The arrow's fletching tickled my cheek. I narrowed my gaze down the shaft and pointed the tip at the hare's furry white chest. One . . . two . . .

(Oops, that was three paragraphs!)

Who's your current favourite character in your novel?


Um, not Skadi, unfortunately. I think she will be once I've cleaned the manuscript up and given her personality something of a re-haul in the first half of the story!

Currently, I'd say Torben. He's not in the middle of the story much, mostly just the beginning and the end, but he's a fun contrast to Skadi's inner gloom. And he's kind of adorable and stubborn.

[Pinterest]

What do you love about your novel so far?


I love the Nordic setting because it's something new for me. I love the mirror's powers because I'm always up for story elements that play with the mind. (Plus mirrors are packed with so much imagery and interesting connotations.) I love having a motley family/crew of seven rough huntsmen, because it's a fun twist on the solitary huntsman of Snow White + the seven dwarves. I also love the  singularity of Skadi's journey. Whereas The Brightest Thread encompassed 100 years and a wide spread of characters, this story focuses on the journey of just one girl's heart.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?


Probably some typos, but I haven't actually started editing yet, so I haven't found them. However, I did accidently forget to incorporate the poison apple element! WHICH IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL. So far, the only resemblance to the original fairytale comes in the form of huntsmen and an evil stepmother. I really wanted to add the apple in somehow, but throw a big twist into it. Good thing I've got some vague ideas for how to write that into the climax . . .

What is your favourite part to write: beginning, middle or end--and why?


In this case, I fell in and out of love during all three stages! Overall, I would say my favorite part to write is whatever part clicks right away. You get this feeling that you're on the right track, building off a decent foundation, heading in the right direction. Contrary to my complaining, I did have some of those moments. Now it's my job to go back, find them, and use them as a guide to hammer the rest of the novella into shape.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!


Snack? Music? Time of day? WRITING SPACE? What are these luxuries? I starve in silence at midnight in the corner of my dungeon!

I kid, I kid. In all honesty, I've been writing on the weekends once I catch up on homework. So the time of day is never ever set in stone. I will clarify that I write best when I don't have other things on my to-do list hanging over my head, and I prefer an earlier start over later.

I don't eat much while writing, although all the Halloween candy sitting around the house makes for good brain food. Tea is my usual choice, though! As for music, lately it's been the soundtrack from How to Train Your Dragon and Two Steps from Hell's latest album, Unleashed.

You don't want to see a picture of my writing space. It's a disaster.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?


Thus far, I've pretty much been pulling a Batman, which is weird for me. But now I'm finally, actually talking about this novella with you! Hooray! It kind of makes it feel more like a "real" writing project now.

[Pinterest]

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?


A deadline. That sounds woefully uninspiring, but I LOVE the satisfaction of completing something on time! For this story, my hard deadline is December 31st--that's the contest rule. But my personal soft deadline is more like December 1st. I'd love to blaze through the editing process during the remainder of November, but we shall see!

Also lots of prayer. My family and I have been praying that I would find ways to balance my college schedule with writing and life and all those other good things. And so far, though it hasn't been easy, I've been surprised at how much writing can be packed into one or two days a week! The bursts of speed are definitely an answer to prayer.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?


Top three pieces of writing advice ever? That's tough! Let's narrow this down to the top three pieces of writing advice I've been learning from this particular project.

1. Try new things, and don't be alarmed when you fumble around with them the first time or two. They're new. You haven't written this before. Keep at it, and you'll get better.

2. They always say you should compete with yourself and no one else--keep improving on your own performance. There's a lot of truth to that, I agree, but I've found that comparing this wet, wobbly-kneed, barely standing novella with the full-fledged novel that I just wrote (The Brightest Thread) isn't helping. Rather, I have to keep reminding myself to play. Have fun. Writing is oftentimes hard, but if you're not having fun overall, there's something wrong. Deadline or no deadline, you need to relax enough to enjoy the process!

3. With every story you pen, put a little piece of yourself into it somehow, and let that shadow of you struggle and fail and win inside the confines of that story. Be real on the page, even if it makes you wince at the dark corners you try to forget you have. There's light to be had there too.

Thanks for sticking around! That was a double-whammy. Hopefully it makes up for posting late. ;) How many of you are fellow Five Poisoned Apples entrants? Any tips for liking your own protagonist?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - October 2017



I'm always amazed at the huge spectrum of events and emotions that one month can hold.

Gratitude & Contentment

  • Celebrating Thanksgiving with family a couple times over
  • Stuffing made with mandarin oranges and cranberries (the best in the world)
  • Yummy pie
  • Remembering that I don't have to feel thankful to be thankful

Stress vs. Peace

  • Lots of homework, which is always an ebb and flow
  • Working on several group projects
  • Surviving midterm exams (which was actually more relaxing than a regular week of school, oddly enough--I booked time off work, so besides sitting for a 1-2 hour test each day, I had the rest of my time to study and do whatever the ham and eggs I wanted) (that felt soooo good) (and I actually did pretty well on the exams, yay)

Sorrow & Hope

  • Attending the funeral of a dear mentor's wife. She passed away too young; her love story with her husband was too sweet and strong to be cut short . . . and yet we celebrated her life, singing "Amazing Grace" and "Beautiful Things" with tears and smiles both.
  • In times like these--when we wish the tale had taken a different turn and don't understand why it didn't--we cannot give up what we know for what we don't know.

Joy & Camaraderie

  • A simple coffee date with a close friend
  • An evening out with my church's young adult group

The contrasts aren't always this stark, but this October brought with it something new every week, it seemed. Mostly good things, some growing opportunities, and one difficult event. I'm thankful once again that no matter how things change and no matter what life throws our way, God is unchangeable.

Storylines on the Screen



Yes, I watched more of The Flash season 3 and rewatched more of Once Upon a Time season 3. I sound like a broken record by now, I'm sure. Moving on!




The Lego Ninjago Movie
The first Lego Movie is still my favorite, but I did like the Ninjago one more than The Lego Batman Movie! (And I'm wondering how many times they can put "Lego" and "Movie" into their titles before people start mixing them up.)


Anyway, it was a lighthearted flick with a generous dose of humor and quotable quotes. We went to the local theater to watch it, and I splurged on popcorn because I never do that--and I figured, if I was putting homework aside to go to the movies, I might as well really go to the movies.


Also there was a cat. A real, live-action cat in a world of animated Lego people. Pretty great. And Jay's comments are still my favorite. "This is my new least favorite place."






Spider-Man Homecoming
It came out on DVD recently, so of course I had to rewatch it! And it was just as awesome as the first time, even if I saw it on a much smaller screen.




The Scorch Trials
Another rewatch! My sisters have read/are reading The Maze Runner books, so they had great fun pointing out all the things the moviemakers got wrong. (What else is new, right?) That ending still frustrates me like crazy! I'm pretty sure The Death Cure is coming out in the near-ish future, so it's good I refreshed my memory on the plot.




The Giver
I read the book a while back, but this was my first time seeing the movie. It wasn't quite as good as I expected--a bit of a step down from other dystopian films like The Hunger Games or Divergent. And Fiona's character annoyed me. But it was still neat to see the book in visual form, and I found the ending of the movie more satisfying than the book!

Subplots on the Page



Beyond the Gateway and Reaper Reborn by Bryan Davis


I reviewed both of these amazing books last week! If you missed it, check it out HERE. Bryan Davis also reposted my reviews on his own blog HERE.


Sadly, I didn't finish any other books besides those two this month.

Storylines of My Own Creation


Is it just me, or have I been pretty quiet about my writing world lately? Maybe it's because I still don't know what I'm doing with my work-in-progress. Heh.

But during the month of October, I wrote 12,000 words in my Snow White novella (for the Five Poisoned Apples contest)*, which means I finished the first draft! I wasn't sure if I'd manage to meet that goal before November hit, but midterm week gave me the time to write 8k of those words. So grateful for that!

*The story still doesn't have a title. I think I might call it "Epically Confused and Possibly Schizophrenic Snow White Retelling" and leave it at that, because I changed things halfway through and didn't stop to edit the beginning. xD

And you know what else? ECaPSSWR (that's Epically Confused and Possibly Schizophrenic Snow White Retelling abbreviated in case you missed the footnote, pal) clocked in at 19,906 words. I FINALLY LEARNED MY LESSON. I FINISHED IT UNDER THE MAXIMUM WORDCOUNT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE HISTORY OF MY LIFE.

Take a look at these first drafts, all written for the Rooglewood contests, which require entries to be 5,000-20,000 words long:

The Glass Girl (Cinderella) - 21,689 words
Blood Rose (Beauty and the Beast) - 21,224 words
The Brightest Thread (Sleeping Beauty) - 29,933 words
Untitled (Snow White) - 19,906 words

I. Am. So. Pleased. Because honestly, if I ended up with a 30k first draft like TBT, I'm not sure I'd be able to wrangle it into shape before the December 31st deadline. Not with college going on. Buuuut I know I have different problems with ECaPSSWR. Things like that schizophrenic plot I mentioned, a whiny protagonist I didn't even like half the time, forgetting to add an important fairy tale element to the ending, and overall choppiness.

But that's what editing is for, isn't it?

In the meantime, I also received even more feedback from beta readers of The Brightest Thread (talking about the current novel right now, not the old novella). Guys, I have some of the best betas EVER with this project. I've been so blessed and encouraged by their praise, and challenged and motivated by their critiques. I'm already eager to start implementing their feedback sometime in the New Year! (Which is two months away . . . excuse me, but who gave 2017 permission access to the HyperSpeed 3000 button?!)

Going forward, I plan to edit ECaP . . . you know what, that's too long to type and I'm getting lazy. Snow White. I plan to edit Snow White this month and submit it so that December is free of writing deadlines. November is a great month to push myself, because I'm surrounded by epic NaNoWriMo participants who are surviving on coffee and wordsprints alone, and their insanity creative energy is catching!

Oh, and one more thing! This month, I have been bombarded by SO MANY IDEAS for things I cannot yet disclose. I think business school is actually helping, you guys. Somehow in the quagmire of income statements and supply/demand graphs and platitudes about marketing, another side of my brain is waking up. And it wants out.

basically me
Wait, no, that sounds terribly gory. The ideas in that part of my brain want out! Sheesh, Tracey.

Everything's in that fragile bubble state of newness, so I doubt I'll have time to develop those ideas until December or January . . . but I'm hoping that I can start creating these secret projects and unveiling them to you all sooner rather than later! This is going to be fun, trust me.

So that's October in a not-so-small nutshell. How was your month? Are you doing NaNo? (I'm jealous if you are!) Are you entering Five Poisoned Apples? And if you're the one who gave this year a HyperSpeed 3000 button, confess now, or I'll send my army of time dragons to your doorstep.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book Reviews: Beyond the Gateway + Reaper Reborn by Bryan Davis

Happy Sunday, everyone! Sorry I missed posting yesterday. I chose homework and an evening with friends over publishing this post on time, and while I wish I was a superhero and could get everything done, obviously I'm not. Thanks for bearing with this mere mortal!


Today I'm excited to be sharing not one, but TWO awesome book reviews! I feel like I've been doing more reviews than normal lately, which is . . . odd . . . because my reading time is diddly squat these days. Anyway! Remember a couple months ago when I reviewed Bryan Davis's Reapers? Shortly thereafter, I went ahead and read the rest of the Reapers Trilogy back to back.


THIS IS BIG. I ALMOST NEVER DO THAT. When I start a series, I usually take my time between books because I don't want to get tired of that storyworld. You can have too much of a good thing, right? (I mean, there's also the opposite problem, where sometimes I take too long to continue a series, and end up forgetting all the important stuff.) But I had the next two Reapers books sitting oh-so-temptingly on my desk, calling for me to discover how the story continued. So I did it. I read an entire trilogy within several weeks, and the final two books I read back to back. That should tell you how good they were!


Now, I have a weird, hard-to-define rating system when it comes to books. I rated Reapers 5 stars, and it deserved every single one of those stars. But I'm rating Beyond the Gateway and Reaper Reborn as 5 star reads too--except I loved them even MORE. See, there's a whole range of 5 star books in my mind: there's the "this was a solid book, I really enjoyed myself, and would gladly recommend it" kind of five stars. And then there's the "THIS BOOK WAS INCREDIBLE; EVERYONE, GO READ THIS NOW" kind of five stars. These last two books fall squarely in the latter category!


I can't disclose much about their plots because #spoilers, sweetie, but I'll try to review them anyway. They're perfect for this autumnal, "spooky" time of year, too.




Funny story: this cover jump-scared me. I was studying it up close while on break
at work, when I suddenly saw those creepy eyes in the background FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Book 2: Beyond the Gateway



This picks up exactly where Reapers left off. Whereas book 1 took some time to lay important groundwork before getting into the action, book 2 launches Phoenix and his friends right into the thick of things. Don't get me wrong--book 1 wasn't slow by any means! It just didn't get truly intense until the latter half. Not so this time! Beyond the Gateway swept me up within the first few chapters, and nothing let up until the very end.


No.


Check that.


Nothing let up at all. Of course there are times of rest to give the reader (and the characters) a short breath, but overall, the plot feels like that long climb at the beginning of a roller coaster before it sends you plunging into an adrenaline-pumping adventure. So. Intense.


One thing I loved was Phoenix's journey. His principles are tested time and time again. He stumbles. He questions. But he grows. Oh, does he grow! The spiritual side of things starts coming to light in this book, clearer than in the first, and it's a new realm of thought for Phoenix.


That's another thing I loved! Most of Bryan Davis's male heroes are noble, upright, God-fearing men, but Phoenix is cut from slightly different cloth. He definitely wants to do the right thing, but his moral compass has no true north to which it points. (Yet.)


Speaking of which, it's here that the author starts using the book's speculative elements to their full potential. In a world where souls cannot instantly travel to their eternal destination, but must be reaped and deposited at a Gateway, the story is rife with opportunities to explore faith, eternity, doubt, and free will. Those things were hinted at in the first book, but here the characters dive right into those sometimes-murky waters in search of truth.


And I, of course, was gobbling it all up.


This book also widens the reader's experience of the Reapers' world. Some time is still spent in dystopian, run-down Chicago, but about half of the book takes you to the Gateway itself, and that new setting opens up a plethora of mysteries and answers and still more mysteries.


Back to the characters--remember how I didn't totally love Shanghai before? I've changed my mind on her now. She is amazing. Somehow she became more real, vulnerable, and lovable in this book.


All the characters, really, are fantastic! But the villains, guys--THE VILLAINS. I HATE THEM SO MUCH. I don't think I've hated someone as much as I hate Alex in quite some time.


That being said, Phoenix had to grapple with some verrrry interesting things regarding the fine line between justice and mercy! (If you can't tell, I adore ethical dilemmas in fiction.)


And naturally Beyond the Gateway ended with a cliff-hanger! Good thing I had the next book on hand . . .


Don't you just love that cover? All the amber tones,
the flying dust/debris, the light...


Book 3: Reaper Reborn



So I thought book 2 was intense. HA. Book 3 ratcheted it up a few notches!


Villainous people play even crueller mind games on Phoenix.


Even more people are in great danger, with their lives hanging on his decisions.


Chicago is burning.


People are being gassed, bombed, and tortured.


Creepy robots called illuminaries are everywhere.


With new allies and new threats, Phoenix starts getting paranoid--and understandably so. He doesn't know who to trust at first, but pretty soon he's forced to trust others in order to take down the corrupt Gateway system and save the people he cares about. Here we see Phoenix stronger than ever before, both physically and character-wise. Seeing him finally get mad at a certain somebody who keeps harping on "his principles" and refuse to take any of that junk was so satisfying! And at the same time, Phoenix is struggling more than ever, sacrificing more than ever, and--


Right, I said there'd be no spoilers. Just go read the trilogy already so we can talk about all the juicy parts!


I have to say, while the book held the reader side of me captive, my writer side was also grinning as I pieced together the genius plot Bryan Davis wove together. He answered questions I barely knew I had, and built it all up to a heart-pounding climax!


You know what else he did? He tied this trilogy to the Time Echoes trilogy!* Old-time readers of his will be thrilled to find the connections, and new readers will hopefully be curious enough to go pick up those other books. The ties between the two series are so clever! I honestly got so excited when Scarlet, a Time Echoes character, was mentioned in passing a few times.


*formerly titled Echoes from the Edge


And after all the cliff-hangers and suspense, the ending of Reaper Reborn was positively perfect. There are huge consequences to everyone's actions, but there is also enough happiness and satisfaction that by the time I reached the final page, I was content. (Unlike many YA dystopian novels that seem to favor bleak endings . . .)


I know reviews should be balanced, and I should mention any quibbles I had with these books . . . but there were none. This reading experience was full of the heart, courage, mystery, faith, well-rounded characters, and tight plotting I've come to expect from Bryan Davis.


On that note: when I pick up new books by beloved authors who were my favorites during childhood or teenhood, I'm usually a bit worried that my memories are too kind--that I'll find the new book lacking somehow, and all the magic will crumble.


Well, folks, I'm happy to report that the Reapers Trilogy shows Bryan Davis is at the top of his game! His older books will always hold a special, nostalgic place in my heart, but these newer ones are so skillfully written that they hold a place of equal value. I won't be forgetting my time with Phoenix in futuristic Chicago anytime soon!


Have you read the Reapers Trilogy yet? Do you like dystopian books? Who's the last villain you loathed with your entire being? And, most importantly, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO PUT THESE BOOKS ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST?