Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Subplots and Storylines - September 2015

Despite the calendar telling me fall began on September 23rd, I always feel that September 1st is a more accurate date for the autumnal equinox. Something about students returning to classes, the air turning crisper, leaves turning gold and orange and red . . . It's just fall-ish. I adore this time of year, when sunny afternoons are still warm enough to wander about in sandals, and evenings are chilly enough to wrap myself in a sweater; when the bugs have started to die off; when you  blink and suddenly the trees are shaking out their golden splendor. Perfection.

Maybe it's the weather, but it feels like the subtle turning of a page. My siblings are burying their noses in schoolbooks once again (heavens, has it really been two years since that was me?). The garden has been cleaned out, down to a bare patch of dirt; and jars upon jars upon jars of canned goods line the pantry shelves. The tomato canning--salsa sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, canned whole tomatoes--is done early this year. Hooray! My college & careers group (the young adult version of youth group, in case you're unfamiliar with the term) has started up again. Change is in the air.

Other September happenings include:
  • A sleepover with a good friend, which consisted of movies, walks, and late-night conversations.
  • My parents' 25th wedding anniversary! My siblings and I served them an Italian meal, restaurant style. It's been our tradition of late to look for new recipes, shoo Mom out of the kitchen, and whip up supper for the two of them on their anniversary. We kitchen staff eat in a different room while they enjoy soft music and a candlelit dinner. This year we made baked ziti, caesar salad, and garlic toast. Oh, and afterwards we all gathered around to watch a video of their wedding highlights. Romantic!
  • I mentioned it already, but the weather has just been gorgeous.
  • Editing The Brightest Thread, my Sleeping Beauty retelling. It's dropped from 30k to just over 27 k, and I've already gone through the first half of the story. Heh. I must learn to be more ruthless.
  • Last Sunday night, we stood on the driveway to witness a 'blood moon.' Or more accurately, the eclipse of a super moon. The moon was larger, closer to earth, and this particular eclipse turned it rusty red. (More like old, dried blood than bright scarlet blood.) Pretty neat.
  • Yesterday was Coffee Day, apparently, which I found out after the fact. Oh well. I did accidently celebrate with a pumpkin spice latte.
I watched a few things this month:
  • A re-watch of Mom's Night Out. Just as funny the second time around!
  • The new Annie movie, watched during a girl's night. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but it was actually very good. The songs got stuck in my head for a few days, which I didn't mind at all.
  • During the sleepover, I watched the first four episodes of Once Upon a Time Season 2! (Captain Hook!)
  • Insurgent. While it wasn't as compelling as the first movie, and I did skip a scene (NOT. NECESSARY. GUYS.), it was fairly good. I'm kind of undecided on my opinion. On one hand, it didn't follow the book. On the other, the changes did accomplish something the book did not (see Tori's review @ Geeks Under Grace; one of the last paragraphs). The different faction settings were sharply contrasted, which was visually beautiful. I continue to love Tris's role. But as I said, it wasn't quite on the same level as Divergent.
My September reading was sparse due to busy-ness. When I finally visited the library last night for the first time in weeks, my heart almost hurt at the number of books I wanted to grab! I settled for a realistic five. Anyway, here's what I did manage to read this month . . .

Doon by Carey Corp & Lori Langdon: Aside from a few plot weaknesses, this was a fun YA romance/portal fantasy in which two girls cross over a magical Scottish bridge into the world of Doon . . . where they promptly fall in love with two princes. Some aspects of the book were quite original, and the princes' lovely Scottish brogues are enough to make it worth the read. (Just a warning: though it's a Christian book, it had a sprinkling of mild language that surprised me.)

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson. FABULOUS. As a romantic suspense novel, it included awesome FBI cases, a really sweet and maturely-handled romance, and heart-plumbing depth. If you've never read Dee Henderson, go do so now. (Her O'Malley series is a great place to start.)

(My cover was pinkish rather than blue...)
Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. I've been slowly working through this devotional all summer. All you ladies out there, whatever your age, this book will touch your heart. I'm serious, there's at least one chapter in there for every kind of woman. Though I didn't agree with a few theological statements, overall the book was amazing. It opened my eyes to some beautiful truths about real womanhood.

And that, my friends, was my September in a nutshell. October awaits!

How was your month? What are you looking forward to in October? And fellow Five Magic Spindles contestants: how is your entry coming along? (Can you believe we have three months left to finish??)

(Psst, stay tuned for this Saturday's post. I am offering some writing tips at last!)

*Edit: I forgot to mention one very exciting happening this month. Anne Elisabeth Stengl held a Show and Tell on her blog for the Five Magic Spindles contestants, which I entered. It was so exciting to get a glimpse of over 30 stories! There's a lot of talent and promising ideas this year. Go take a gander!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Infinity Dreams Blog Award

Hello again, questers! It's been a long week work-wise (which is great for the paycheck and good exercise for my stamina) . . . so I honestly don't have the brainpower to do justice to any of the in-depth posts I have planned. Maybe next week?

But today is a good day for a tag. Specifically the Infinity Dreams Blog Award, given to me by Victoria @ Stori Tori's Blog. If you haven't yet checked out her corner of the internet, wander over to find her assortment of tea reviews, soundtracks, vocabulary expansions, and general geekiness.

(By the way, I haven't a clue what inspired this tag/award's name. Maybe it started out having some relation to dreams or infinite somethings?)

1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you.
2. Tell us eleven facts about yourself.
3. Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
4. Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them.

Eleven Facts About Myself
1. I love dark chocolate. The darker the better. (Up to a point. Those 90% cocoa bars taste like straight up cocoa powder.) If you wish to buy me chocolate, Lindt is very welcome. *smiles innocently*

2. I have jumped off a fifty-foot structure. Since it was the only way down at the end of a high-ropes course, and I was harnessed in, it's not as impressive as it first sounds . . . But it was scary.

3. Because my hair can't decide if it's blonde or brown, and is instead a 'dirty blonde,' and because I dislike that description, I have taken to describing it as honey brown.

4. Stacks of paper are the bane of whatever sense of tidiness I have. One of the many stacks on my desks currently consists of: a voter info card, my incomplete submission form for Rooglewood Press's contest, old envelopes that haven't made their way to the recycling bin, a devotional sheet from church, a Legend of Zelda coloring page, scrap paper, a wedding invitation, a college booklet, a humorous note from my aunt, a list of what I packed for holidays this summer, more scrap, training material from work, a graph of my Sleeping Beauty word count progress, a Tangled coloring picture, an old blog post of Mirriam's that I printed (with the intention of hanging it on my wall), and yet more scrap. It's way past time I clean my desk!

5. Some facts about myself are apparently very long-winded . . .

6. I spent an afternoon this week getting tomato juice all over myself and the kitchen counter. It's canning season!

7. I like to put cucumbers or pickles in my tuna sandwiches.

8. I have a little scar above my left eyebrow. I pretend I got it in some epic battle, but in truth, I had a birthmark surgically removed as a young child. (Not nearly as interesting.)

9. August Booth is one of my favorite Once Upon a Time characters. SO FAR. I retain the right to amend that statement should he ever turn bad, something which happens a whole awful lot to characters in this show! But he's a writer. Enough said. And though he's not been a very good boy lately (as of Season 1's conclusion), something about him is special.

10. I love keys . . . old-fashioned skeleton keys with twining strands of metal. So beautiful and mysterious.

11. As a child, I combed my house in search of secret passageways, knocking on walls and floors, poking in corners. Alas, there were none to be found. If I get a chance to design my own house one day, I am definitely adding some secret tunnels.

Questions from Tori (as if I haven't rambled on long enough already!):

1.) Shorts, jeans, or skirts? Shorts or jeans. I do like skirts, but they're not practical for everyday wear, and I don't own very many to begin with.

2.) Hot weather or cold weather? In between weather! Spring and fall are my favorite seasons.

3.) What's your favorite flavor? Depends what sort of food group we're talking about here. To start off, I love berry flavors, chocolate, Italian food (so . . . garlic? in not-too-overpowering amounts?), mint, etc.

4.) Coffee, cocoa, or tea? Depends on the day. I'd say coffee or tea sooner than cocoa, simply because hot chocolate is so sweet and filling. Though I do enjoy it on a cold, wintry afternoon.

5.) What's the first book you remember reading? A Little Bear book that I thought I could read, but had actually only memorized.

6.) Favorite song artist? I have a number of those, but one is Anthem Lights. They're a four-guy Christian group, producing both their own original music and covers of secular songs. Their harmony is AMAZING, their sense of humor is hilarious, and their heart for God shines through (especially in their original music). Some of my favorite originals are . . .
And one of my favorite covers . . .

7.) Do you play an instrument? Sadly, no, but I'd love to learn piano or violin or cello. If it didn't require so much time and effort, that is. Just download the skills into my brain, please!

8.) Favorite fandom? Though I'm a fan of many things, I'm not sure how many I can actually call a fandom of mine. To me that implies a thorough knowledge to go along with one's deep, abiding love; and I hesitate to claim I know all the ins and outs of these things. But I'm proud to be an Imp of Goldstone Wood, a fan of Marvel, a fan of Dragons in Our Midst (and the following series), and a casual Ring nut. (I say casual because I've yet to watch the movies or read the books more than once. *hangs head in shame*)

9.) Favorite actor? Let's just follow my trend of slacking off and answering these questions with multiple answers, shall we? I loved Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Will Poulter as Eustace, Shailene Woodley as Tris, Chris Evans as Captain America, Sebastian Stan as Bucky . . . The list goes on, despite the fact that I don't actually follow celebrities.

10.) Do you have a favorite scent? Cinnamon. Rain-soaked air. Fresh bread. Coffee. Cucumber melon lotion.

11.) Are you introverted or extroverted? Introverted. Somewhat extroverted around people nearest me.

I nominate these 11 illustrious questers:
Annie Hawthorne @ Curious Wren
Emily @ Emily Etc.
Skye @ Ink Castles
Wynonah @ Life is an Adventure
Rebekah Hendrian @ Wordsmithing and Worldbuilding
 Katie Grace @ A Writer's Faith
wisdomcreates @ The Pen of a Ready Writer
Andrea Adams @ Andrea's Scribbles

Eleven Questions for Said Nominees:
Let's put some dreams and infiniteness into this . . .

1. Describe the most recent dream you can remember having.
2. "To infinity and beyond!" Who's your favorite Toy Story character?
3. If Iron Man and Captain America were pitted against each other (not that hard to imagine), who would you root for?
4. What are your top three favorite things about autumn?
5. When's your prime time: morning, midday, or late at night?
6. You've been handed the leash of an emperor's pet tiger--quick, what do you do with it?
7. Do you have any pre-writing 'rituals' or habits? (If you're not a writer, feel free to describe any other preparatory habits of yours, whether it's your morning routine, or what you do to get ready for studying, or anything else.)
8. Favorite song artist?
9. Name a real-life hero of yours.
10. What's your goal(s) in blogging?
11. Name a literary/film couple you shipped that ended up sinking.

Have fun! As always, it's up to you whether or not you accept this tag.

And if you've made it this far . . . congratulations! You are either very patient, very bored, or actually interested in my silly ramblings. Have some pie.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Members of One Body

They will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35 paraphrased).

Huh. Right now, it seems they know we're Christians by our judgmental comments, pointing fingers, and loud argumentsnot only aimed at the world, but slung at each other. We arrange ourselves into factions, draw lines between them, and proceed to shout down everyone not in our group. We attack each other's beliefs. Goodness, we attack each other. We give one another the cold shoulder. We look down our noses at those people who interpret the Bible that way, which is definitely incorrect because it doesn't line up with our way.

And yet, last I checked, we're reading the same Bible. We're serving the same Jesus. We're brothers and sisters! Sometimes I wonder what our family must look like to everyone else . . . this feuding family in which mother, father, sister, brother, all stake out their corner of the room and react viciously to anyone who suggests that another corner is better.

Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, non-denominational. We cling to these titles almost as if they are our salvation. We have our church names, our slogans, our spiritual paraphernalia, and heaven help any who carry a different one.

I am sick and tired of the division. What's more attractive: the family whose members bristle with discord and acidic comments, or the family who loves each other and sticks together through any disagreement? When I meet either kind of families in public, there is one I gravitate toward and one I do my utmost to stay away from. What do you think our denominational division looks like from the outside?

Look, my siblings and I do not always agree. We have our spats. We're far from perfect. But in the end, we're still in the same family; we share the same blood. We carry a common name.

And yes, I do realize that a lot of us don't actually treat other denominations as badly as I've illustrated, but I'm painting this subject in vivid colors in an effort to drive home a point. Why should these differences be such a focus? Don't we all share more common ground than not? Ultimately, if you believe Jesus is the Son of God, fully God and fully man, and that he walked the planet, showed us how to live, then died and came back to life in order to bring us back to himself . . . then what else is there? You and I are kin.

I'm not saying theology is unimportant, either. We should always continue to dig into Scripture and discover more about who Jesus is, who we are because of him, and what our purpose is here. Always. And I don't deny that there are Christians out there who believe things I consider unscriptural. But if that belief will not affect their eternal destination, then it is not worth bashing them over it. Will that belief affect their life here on earth? Yep. But a lot of the things we argue about don't actually shift anyone's path from heaven to hell, or vice versa. There is a place and time for theological debates, but they are far fewer than we think.

This is all coming from a girl who is very passionate about truth, a girl able to debate a number of points when she wants to. And I wouldn't believe what I do unless I thought it was right. But I do not, by any means, consider myself to have the full corner on truth. None of us know the entire big picture. I think we'll all be surprised by something when we get to heaven.

So instead of fighting so adamantly over things that don't carry much eternal significance, can't we set our differences aside and love each other? Can we be known by our love? A deep, forgiving, transcendent, no holds barred kind of love? Can we make this our legacy, the reputation we carry?

I'm not suggesting we throw away this denominational thing entirely. It's a beautiful thing that we can all find a church that worships and serves God in a way we connect with. Each one is gifted for a specific purpose. But it would be amazing if we could find it in ourselves to not care so much about labels.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine invited me to a multi-denominational worship event. I don't know how many people attended, but we filled a sports stadium. Together we lifted our voices in praise. We crossed borders and stood as one, worshiping God. It didn't matter which churches we came from. It didn't matter if we had differing opinions on peripheral matters. We all followed Christ. That was the important thing. We had all been drenched in God's reckless love, and we all loved him back.

From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in unselfish love. (Ephesians 4:16, Amplified) And the same verse in the New Living Translation: He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

It is a great tactic of Satan to distract us with infighting, to get us quibbling over passages of Scripture, so that we forget to actually live out that very Scripture. Our purpose is to populate heaven! Instead we are obsessed with populating our corner with more like-minded individuals. Though oft-quoted, this still holds true: A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Over and over, the Bible reminds us that we are all parts of one body. Each part is vital and has a different function. But we are one.

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. (1 Corinthians 1:10, NLT)

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. (Ephesians 4:2-6, NLT)

Our Sunday mornings may look different. One sits on a pew and sings hymns. Another stands in an auditorium and sings songs written yesterday. One may come dressed in jeans, another in their utmost best. Your church building might sport a steeple that's been there for a century, or church might be held in a converted grocery store. Maybe you're a part of half a dozen people that come together in someone's home, or maybe your congregation numbers in the thousands. Does it matter?

As long as you follow Jesus, no. It doesn't. We're family. Let's act like it.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Bookshelf Tag

Back in June, my blogging buddy Deborah O'Carroll did this Bookshelf Tag, and left it open to anyone who wanted to snag it. Being immensely fond of my growing collection, I filed it away in my memory with a mental post-it note reading DO THISSSSS. Besides, what booklover doesn't swell with pride when given the chance to show off his or her precious bookish possessions?

(Pictures are not a requirement for this tag, but I really couldn't resist.)
(Also, I apologize for the camera quality. My trusty digital has served me well for seven years, but it doesn't work as nicely as those expensive ones with uber long lenses . . .)

Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books-it doesn’t actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from:
I have a set of two bookcases in my room, each with a spot dedicated to books (and the rest of the shelves are full of CDs, craft supplies, notebooks, and general junk).

My desk's hutch holds close to forty volumes. All three come from Ashley's Furniture, if you really must know. But my older, less-read books have a spot in a family bookshelf in the basement. Oh, and some of my childhood reads are upstairs. So they're really all over the place. (If I had room, I'd love to put all my babies in one massive bookshelf.)

Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?
Not . . . specifically. I don't organize alphabetically or by color or anything quite like that. I do of course keep series together, and generally keep each author's books together as well. My hutch holds a lot of my favorites, but that's overflowed into one of the shelves. The other shelf holds mostly used books purchased at book fairs.

What’s the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?
Not counting The Chronicles of Narnia (because that's technically seven books), it would be Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. I haven't read it yet, but it's a whopping 763 pages.

What’s the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?
The Talking Snowman by Lois Gladys Leppard: 103 pages. I lived and breathed Mandie Shaw for a good portion of elementary school.

Is there a book you received as a birthday gift?
A number of them, but the one that springs to mind first is Raising Dragons by Bryan Davis. I received it from my parents on my 13th birthday, and have spent my teenage years growing up alongside Billy, Bonnie, Walter, Ashley, and the gang! These books also inspired my love of dragons. So that's a big thing.

What’s the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Pocket Quips by Robert C. Savage. It's one of the books I was allowed to take from my grandpa's study when he passed away over a year and a half ago. The book's puns and life reflections, so very like his own sense of humor, remind me of him. Such as this excerpt: A hug is a roundabout way of expressing affection.

What’s the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. Gifted to me by my aunt on my graduation!

Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?
Probably a few, but most of my books (that I haven't bought myself) come from my parents or grandparents. So I'll feature this one, On the Shoulders of Hobbits by Louis Markos--a thoughtful gift from my grandma and grandpa (same one who passed way) a few years ago.

Most expensive book?
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, for $25.99. At least I think that's the most expensive . . .

The last book you read on your shelf?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?
Oh goodness, that's too far back to remember. An early one, though, was Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Montgomery. I remember reading it in first grade, as a wee child of six. A good number of those big words were way over my head, but I loved it anyway.

Do you have more than one copy of a book?
Only The Chronicles of Narnia! I have my big single volume, and then I have a lovely illustrated boxed set from my grandpa's study.

Do you have the complete series of any book series?
When I find a series I love, I set out to collect the entire thing. I simply must own it. So I'm in the process of gathering a number of series, but among the completed collections are . . .
Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire by Bryan Davis, as well as Dragons of Starlight and Echoes from the Edge.

The Cantral Chronicles by Amanda Davis.
The Berinfell Prophecies by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper.
(Some series I'm partway through collecting are The Solitary Tales by Travis Thrasher, Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan.)

What’s the newest addition to your shelf?
Books purchased on holidays: The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker, Illusionarium by Heather Dixon, and The Sorceror of the North by John Flanagan.

What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?
Again, too many to properly recall, but a classic from my childhood is Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John. Ah, fond memories . . .

What’s the most recently published book on your shelf?
I think it's The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker, published May 19, 2015.

The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?
Another treasure from my grandpa's study. The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott, published 1895. One of these days I will sit down, cradle this amazing thing in my hands, and begin reading it. There seem to be a lot of long, epic ballad-type poems in it. Potential story inspiration?

A book you won?
Umm. I don't think I've won any. Shocker, I know! There's probably something or other won during my childhood, but I can't recall what it is.

A book you’d hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?
Any of my precious paperbacks! They're much more prone to mishaps than hardcovers, and it's painful to see any of those beautiful covers bend. But in truth, I have let people borrow them, even a couple of my favorites, but I always hint that I'd like them to treat the book very well. (Or maybe I tell them outright. Either way--they know I value the condition of my books!)

Most beat up book?
It's no surprise that my most beat up book was not beat up by me. It's another book fair find, Eldest by Christopher Paolini. And it's not even that bad.

Most pristine book?
As I've already explained, I try to keep all my favorites looking nice, and most of them are in identical condition. So I just pulled a random one from the shelf, one with an epic cover I felt like photographing: The Errant King by Wayne Thomas Batson.

A book from your childhood?
Two Jigsaw Jones mysteries. As with the Mandie books, I adored these as a kid . . . even to the point that I begged my mom for a mystery of my own to solve.

A book that’s not actually your book?
Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own by Emily Brightwell. It belongs to my grandmother, but being the thirtieth in the series (while I'm perhaps eight books in), I haven't yet gotten around to reading and returning it. Also The Princess Bride by William Goldman, which belongs to my aunt. And I'm not quite sure if she intended me to give it back once I read it, or keep it. HEY, AUNTIE ROXANE, IF YOU'RE READING THIS, WHAT DID YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH IT?

A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?
Alas, I have no special covers, leather or otherwise, unless you count the Scott poetry book, but I don't know what that's made of. The best I could come up with are these shiny gold letters on the cover of Isle of Fire by Wayne Thomas Batson.

A book that is your favorite color?
If We Survive by Andrew Klavan is slathered in the most beautiful greens and blues, which look even prettier in real life.

Book that’s been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven’t read?
Heh, a whole bunch of those second-hand books you saw at the beginning of the post. There's about a dozen I haven't read yet, and some have sat patiently waiting for a few years already.

Any signed books?
Glad you asked! I had the privilege of meeting Bryan Davis a few years ago, and he signed ALL MY DAVIS BOOKS (well, all that I owned at the time). He even jokingly offered to sign books that weren't his.
I also have Asylum, written by a friend of mine who goes by Chantelle J.Z. Storm, and she signed my copy too! Isn't it sweet?


I hope you've enjoyed perusing my library as much as I've enjoyed showing it off! Seeing as I'm not entirely sure who's all been tagged for this and who hasn't, I won't tag anyone. Instead, if you want to purloin this fun thingamajig for yourself, please do! I would love to get a peek at your bookshelf! (And remember, pictures aren't a requirement.) Share all the book-love!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Beautiful People - Vyntyri

I am getting to this month's edition of Beautiful People early for once! Beautiful People is a helpful magic potion concocted by wizards Cait and Skye, designed to aid writers in their quest to better understand their characters. (You can find out more on their blogs.)

As you already know from the title, I'll be using this round of questions on the villainess of my Sleeping Beauty novella:


(pronounced Vin-teer-ee)

That woman's a nasty one, but oh so much fun to write about! She just oozes power and authority, yet beneath the surface she's a little broken. Not that anyone around her realizes that--she's much too good at hiding the truth, even from herself. Before we get into the questions, here's a little taste of this fairy . . .


The silhouette shifted, stepped forward. The doors whispered shut behind her. Somehow, their soft thud sounded worse than the bang with which they’d opened. Without a bright backdrop, the figure became clear. Robed in glowing silver, she seemed like a star fallen from the heavens. Silver hair hung freely over her shoulders. Chin tilted high, she surveyed the assembly. “My, so many guests here today. King Cedric, surely your table held room for one more?”
(Vyntyri dresses a bit like this.)

Cedric wiped a hand over his face, now pale. “Vyntyri.”

Riar pressed closer to the cradle. “We thought you—”

“Dead?” Vyntyri began walking toward the front, weaving through the tables. Commoners shrank back from her on all sides.

“Or locked in enchantment,” Riar replied. “You have not been seen in fifty years.”
Vyntyri, now moving between the nobles’ tables, laughed. “How happy for you, then—to discover that I am neither dead nor enchanted. Still, was it not . . . rude of you, Riar, to neglect to send me an invitation to your daughter’s christening?”
Cedric, staring at the silver woman, seemed lost in a trance. Riar’s face tightened. “Forgive me. I am not in the habit of inviting dead people to parties.”
Vyntyri bowed her head, but the gesture seemed mocking rather than reverent. “Perhaps you should have investigated the state of the eighth steward’s health, hm? Not every piece of news crosses your courtyards. A simple envoy to Contalabutte Island could have revealed that I am indeed alive and well, and very eager to bestow a blessing upon your infant.”

1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?
Vyntyri doesn't like to rely on anyone but herself in a crisis, but by necessity she will depend on some allies . . . as long as it serves her purposes.

2. Are they easy to get along with?
Ahaha . . . no. She possesses a veneer of civility, but there is too much menace beneath that mask for her to cooperate with anyone. The only time she'd be remotely easier to get along with would be the rare occasion that you and her both want the same end result. And even then, prepare to be stabbed in the back.

3. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with?
I would have to say Princess Luci, the object of Vyntyri's curse. But the details of said conversation will be withheld. (Spoilers!)

4. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?
Above them all. Powerful. Suspicious and judgmental of everyone else's motives.

5. Do they believe in luck or miracles?
No, but she believes in magic, which is really just another way of saying she believes in herself. Her own efforts, her own plans, her own strength.

6. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
Well, that depends. If you mean her literal neighbors, the people of Contalabutte Island (her kingdom), they get along splendidly. She holds the true seat of power there--not the king--and her people love and depend on her for protection. But if you mean the neighboring kingdoms, that's a whole 'nother story. They hardly give Contalabutte a second thought. It's such a tiny nation, anyway, and the fate of it hardly concerns them. Needless to say, Vyntyri feels ignored.

7. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
Someplace where her people could be safe.

8. How do they feel about their body?
Um, strange question . . . Not particularly relevant to this story. But I suppose she feels it is a serviceable vessel. Perhaps she wishes it was a stronger conduit of magic, but it has served her well enough.

9. What is the cruellest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Rather than one single thing, the cruellest words spoken to her have built and gathered over the years. A callous remark here, a stinging phrase there. However, the cruelty is found more in the silences and gaps than the actual words. (And just between you and me, Vyntyri reads far more into people's words and silences than is intended.)

10. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
I shan't tell you the actual words, only that someone finally listened. Someone offered help, and in doing so, attacked the very hate festering in Vyntyri's heart all this time. But being so embroiled in her beliefs, she rejected the offer entirely. I think that may have been her biggest regret.

Hopefully those answers weren't too vague. As I was writing them, I realized that several of them reached into spoilery territory. But at least you've had a glimpse of this story's primary antagonist!

Are you planning to participate in Beautiful People this month (or have you already)? Who do you think you'll feature? And what are your thoughts on this malevolent fairy?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Subplots and Storylines - August 2015

Well, it appears that I am two days late getting this post up. But you patient questers don't mind too much, right?

August. How shall I begin to describe thee? Thou art fleeting as the wind, capricious as the sea . . . Ahem. Now that I've got that Shakespearean hooey out of my system, I believe I can articulate myself in a more contemporary manner.

This month began on a relaxing note, what with family holidays (which I documented HERE). It was lovely to take some time off from life's busyness together. One thing I forgot to mention in that vacation post was the night we had a campfire--complete with s'mores, naturally--and took turns telling each family member something we loved/appreciated about them. It brought on tears for some of us, and remains one of my favorite memories of the vacation.

And then it was back home--back to work! writing! movies! corn on the cob! Don't laugh. Fresh corn on the cob, salted and slathered with butter, is one of the very best things on God's green earth.

But I know you all have much more pressing questions than "what did you eat?" Unless you are Cait of Paper Fury. Because that is probably her primary question for everyone. (Pst, go check out her new blog design--gorgeous!) But the rest of you folk may be wondering . . .

What did you watch?
Too much.
  • A bunch of rewatches, which I mentioned in that vacation post.
  • The last three Indiana Jones movies. As with many things, I was late getting on that particular train. Those iconic adventure movies are pretty great, though, even when they make me howl with laughter over the leaps in logic and unintentional bits of hilarity. Indy, please explain to me how you and your crew managed to float down not one, not two, but THREE successive waterfalls without losing each other in the current or, excuse me, killing yourselves. While I'm asking questions, here's one for Spielberg and Lucas: what possessed you to mix aliens into the fourth movie? But I digress. I did quite enjoy the Indiana Jones films. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is probably my favorite.
  • Rewatched Mockingjay: Part 1 with my brother, and remembered exactly why I can't wait for the final Hunger Games installment.
  • Rewatched Teen Beach Movie with my sisters, Mom, and honorary aunt. It was a girly night, okay?
  • Because my littlest sis went off to camp for a week, us three oldest had the leisure of watching a number of older-audience movies. (Who am I kidding, we needed a diversion from all the tears cried over Kitty's absence.) So we watched The Amazing Spiderman, Thor: The Dark World, and then we gals watched Pride and Prejudice.
  • Finished the first season of Once Upon a Time. I can't say anything more here, otherwise it might swallow up this entire post, and it's supposed to be a balanced summary, not a TV show review. (But my poor heart . . .)
What did you read?
Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum. A fun little bundle of chick-lit, and for all you gals who don't prefer that sort of thing, you might find enough depth here to make this worth your while. I really identified with the main character Paige. Plus, Erynn Mangum's writing is just hilarious.
The Spirit Well by Stephen R. Lawhead (Book 3 in the Bright Empires series). Another brilliant piece of the Bright Empire series! Things are building toward an epic climax, I tell ya.
Golden Daughter by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Words cannot express how amazing this novel is. But I shall try to employ those feeble tools in effort to do so anyway. This book, with its pseudo-eastern culture (I'm not learned enough in that sort of thing to pinpoint its exact inspiration--probably Japanese or something), definitely had a different feel to it than the previous installments. Yet it was so distinctly Goldstone Wood, and it shed light on some very important elements of the series. I just might have to write up a book review . . . or more like a reaction post, because a review implies that there may be some negative opinions. And I have zero of those.
Mindwar by Andrew Klavan. I'm excited that this is the first of a trilogy, since his last few books have been standalones. Sci-fi-ish videogame stuff allows for a fantasy feel in some portions of the story, and the villains are wonderfully creepy. I started off wanting to hit Rick Dial (main character) upside the head, but he straightened out by the end. There were some nice allegorical elements worked in, encouraging readers not to live by their feelings, and demonstrating the power to be found within us because of Christ.
Above by Leah Bobet. *le sigh* I wanted to like this book. I did. I stuck it out to the end, hoping that the unique writing voice and cool elements would make it worthwhile. But poetically off-kilter sentences and people with crab claw hands, lightning powers, or transforming-into-a-bee abilities were not enough. Or I should say, they might have been, had the book not veered into hot-button-topic territory. (Talking to ghosts. A weird, almost-séance scene. Mental disorders, which isn't a bad thing to address, but just didn't quite click here. Gender issues. That one jumped out of nowhere and totally messed up the ending. I couldn't even figure out exactly what the author wanted to say on that topic.) Also, the cover implies the book is about the girl with bee's wings. It's not. She's the love interest of the main, a lovesick, melodramatic boy named Matthew.
What did you write?
Glad you asked! (Er, glad I . . . asked . . . myself?) I didn't write anything the first half of the month (holidays, y'know), but afterward I got a good bit done in my Sleeping Beauty novella. And guess what? I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT. Yay! But guess what else? IT'S EXACTLY 9,934 WORDS OVER THE CONTEST LIMIT. Oh no.

So it's obvious I didn't reach my goal of 20k by July 29th. But 30k by August 29th isn't too bad if you remember I didn't write a word for ten days. And that I worked a number of the other days. But boy oh boy, do I ever have my work cut out for me. I'll have to chop off almost a third of the story. Can it be done? We shall see. I suspect my blood, sweat, and tears will stain this blog in the coming month or two.

Oh, and I still do not have a title. This is not good. But I do have a few possibilities I'm toying with, and I hope to settle on a keeper in time to participate in the Show and Tell being hosted this month.

I can't leave the topic of Sleeping Beauty without sending a big shoutout to my lovely beta readers! Their responses have made drafting this story twice as much fun, and their input on various things has been so valuable. Thank you, gals!

Good heavens, you've been watching, reading, and writing so much--have you had time for anything else?
Yes, but the only noteworthy thing was the walk I took with an old friend the other day. We had a great time getting some exercise and catching up on each other's lives!

So now I must ask you, questers, what your epic quests are for September. How was your summer? Do you have plans for the fall? And if you're participating in the Five Magic Spindles contest, how's your entry coming along? I, for one, will be attempting to trim down my inbox and catch up on some beta reading before jumping into edits (ahem, lumberjack practice).