Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 In Review

The eve of 2015 is upon us. o.o This year went by too fast. >_> But it was a really fun year, too. :3 Writing- and reading-wise, I accomplished a lot. ^_^ I thought I'd share a rundown of what went on with me in 2015. :3

Reading:
1. I have read approximately 40 books this year. :3 I managed to get through the to-reads that had been sitting on my shelf, but then Black Friday and gift cards happened so now it's starting all over. XD But it was super fun reading the books I did. There weren't many that I really disliked, either. ^_^


2. I finished beta reading the manuscripts of two of my friends. I enjoyed them both, and one of them is hopefully to be published in spring of 2016, which I'm super super excited about because it's a fantabulous book and the characters and worldbuilding and plot and themes and ack. X3 I'm just a bit excited, even though it crushed my feels and the fangirl inside me died in the climax. >_> I was in shock and denial. So naturally you all should read it too when it comes out. ^_^

3. I received my first ever e-ARC copy of a book to read and review, so that was super exciting. I reviewed Disenchanted by Janet Ursel, and it was kind of cool to receive a copy of a book that hadn't been released yet. That book was good too, so if you're a fan of Christian fantasy, you might wanna take a look at Disenchanted. ;)

Writing:
1. I finally finished the first draft of my fantasy novel. O_O I know I've ranted over this before, but this is a big thing guys. This is the book I'm hoping to publish, and it's finally out of the silly starting gate after a lot of backtracking. o.o I don't know when it'll be published, but hopefully soon. :3 It was so much to write, and I love my darling characters, and I loved the unexpected things that happened in it (when it didn't my the story snag. >_>).


2. I wrote five short stories, just for fun. One of them is fanfiction, and another is a fairytale rewrite/mashup of Cinderella and Snow White. B) I really enjoyed writing all of those. I also wrote four very short stories/scenes, again just for fun. One of them is based on Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" because that song is creepy. So what better way to utilize the creepy by giving it a soul-stealing woman? ;) But that was fun to write too, though. I enjoyed all of these little projects. :3

3. I finished my blog's serial story this year! Fence Jumpers is what started this blog back in 2014, and this year I finished it. I really, really enjoyed writing that story, and I loved exploring the characters and watching them all interact together. But I really loved all of the people who read and loved the story as much I did. :3 I enjoyed reading the comments I got here and on Pinterest and hearing how much people enjoyed FJs. I'm super glad it was enjoyed, even when I took a couple breaks to catch up to myself. XD

4. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, and won! It was really fun to try NaNo this year, and I had a few friends to do it with (which was nice, since I hadn't really wanted to do it by myself). I got a bit excited during the first few days and got ahead of schedule, and I finished about a week before the end of November. ^_^ It was my first try at a steampunk novel, and it was fun. O_O Granted it's a horrendous mass of messiness that needs a lot of work and research and revision, but I'm glad I tried out NaNo. It was a lot of fun and rather satisfying to have written a novel in 22 days.

Other:
1. My brother (two years younger than me) got himself married. o.o He's married, guys. :3 The wedding day was fantastic and a lot of fun. X3 I was a bridesmaid, so it was cool to see the behind-the-scenes of wedding goings on, after witnessing a lot of weddings this year/knowing people who have gotten married. It was super fun. :3

2. Falling Skies has come to a close. :< It was a show I found and decided to try it out (having very little previous knowledge of it) and I came to really, really enjoy it. It was a show with whose characters I felt invested in. It's all done now, but it was awesome to have found a show that made me feel attached to even the characters that bugged the daylights out of the others. But I rambled about all that elsewhere. ;)

3. I have discovered a new music band I really enjoy. ^_^ Rend Collective is an Irish Christian band, and their music is really fun. :3 They're reminiscent of Mumford & Sons, with a folk/rock kind of flavor? I'm not sure, but you should look them up! B) I'll even get you started with my favorite. :3


What I Hope To Do (God Willing) in 2016:
1. Whittle down my to-read pile on my shelf again, then once the ones there are done, I might venture to the library to snag a new book or two I've been wanting to try.

2. Finish college. O_O I'm starting my final courses in January, and those should be done around March. I'm so close, people. O_O

3. Continue working on my fantasy novel. I'm hoping that this will be the book I self-publish, and I've made it this far. It still has a ways to go, I'm sure, but, God willing, I will have my darling published sometime. :3

4. Keep working on my other WIPs, and maybe start a couple new ones. I have a Peter Pan/Alice in Wonderland crossover I really wanna do, and a pro-life story that also might involve me writing song lyrics (I am not really musically gifted that way, so I have been kind of putting that off. XD). I would like to keep working on The Empire Thief, because I want to know who gets the girl and what happens to my own MC, people. I have no clue what happens or how I want it to happen. >_>

https://www.wattpad.com/story/41359830-the-empire-thief
Click to go read! :3

5. Continue this blog. This blog has, I think, lasted longer than any of my blogs have ever made it, and I really want to keep it going. :3 It's been a lot of fun writing it, even when I'm stumped as to what to write. I do want to try writing posts about writing, but I need to find topics I feel I can discuss and contribute to. I'm sure I'll find other random things to ramble on about.

So there's that. :D Have a happy New Year's Eve/Day, all! ^_^ What are your 2016 writing/reading goals? Or other goals? What fun adventures did you have in 2015? :D

Monday, December 28, 2015

Books I Need On Screen

Book-to-movie adaptations are fun to see sometimes, but it can be a hit-or-miss event. Some films are spot on with keeping to the book, others are not.

Here are six books/series I want to see turned into films, or television shows. This post is with the mindset that the filmmakers will do an excellent job with keeping to the book(s). But when you daydream anything can be just so. B) So in the order that they come to mind, here are the books I wanna see. :3

1. The Elsie Dinsmore series


This. I want to see this as a TV series. If done well, it could be a charming show. :3 Not the eight updated ones, but the original 28 is what I want. All of them. Perhaps airing on Sundays or Saturdays. It would be lovely, people. :3

2. 100 Cupboards trilogy


All three of these need to be movies. I think it's already been optioned to become a movie, but I've no idea when or anything, so it still counts here. >_> They would make fantastic movies. X3 Maybe I'll try dreamcasting... ;) This needs to happen. The cupboards, the many worlds... It would be an expensive movie but I need it. XD

3. The Rithmatist



Also a movie. This would make such a great movie. And accompanying video game. But one of the chalk duels. O_O I need that on screen. o.o It would have a good creepy factor, too. Definitely one of those dead-silent moments before a chalk monster bursts out from under a door or something. B)

4. This Present Darkness


Hmm... this would probably be a good TV show. It could work as a movie too, but I think a TV might be better. I loved this book, with a peek into the spiritual realm and angels and demons. It would be super cool to see the overlay of that realm and ours, the angels and demons going unseen by humans, but both storylines intersect. It'd be epic, people.

5. The Graveyard Book


This would also work as a TV show. The book itself had separate yet connected adventures in each chapter, and that could play over into a television series. Only one season, but it would be really adorable to see. :3

6. The False Prince


I wasn't sure if I wanted to add this to the list, but I thought why not? I loved the first book, and it could make a fun movie. It might need a little creative license, but it would be hilarious to see Sage's snark. XD I smiled at his dialogue, and I need it.

What about you? What books do you want to see as films or television shows? :D Do you have any cast lists or soundtrack scores for them? Tell me I must know! :3

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: This Present Darkness (Frank E. Peretti)


The town of Ashton seems small and humble. A simple college community where everybody more or less knows everybody else. But darkness is encroaching on the town. A new way of thinking is invading, and with it comes an evil humans don't see. The editor of the town newspaper and a young pastor go up against both the human and spiritual forces this darkness brings, and they realize their own world and the world of angels and demons are more closely involved in this evil plot than they realize.

This year I read the first two books of Chuck Black's Wars of the Realm trilogy, and I loved them both. I loved seeing the spiritual realm in our world, seeing God's angels and the devil's demons in the ever-present war for mankind. It intrigued me, and so my dad suggested I read This Present Darkness, since I liked WotR. I picked this up and really enjoyed it right away. It's story takes place in our world, both among human characters and in the unseen spiritual realm. I loved seeing that "world," seeing angels and demons in a steady war of strategy and patience for the town of Ashton.

I liked seeing how the plot in this book was both separate for humans and for angels/demons, but how it intertwined and overlapped each other too. Each side had the same goal, but worded differently depending on which realm you looked at. This story was full of mystery and a lot of unanswered questions in the midst of demonic possession, which sometimes aroused more questions.

The dialogue among the human characters seemed unrealistic in places. It just felt off, not quite a normal human character dialogue sometimes. A few scenes where demonic possession occurs seemed off too, but I haven't come up against that sort of thing, so I may be wrong. But those were a couple things that didn't feel entirely realistic, for the humans.

The angels' and demons' interactions within their own ranks and the overall worldbuilding of them were interesting, too. When the angels interacted with their fellows, there was a mutual respect for each other and each other's accomplishments. But the demons, in contrast, argued and fought with each other as much as they did against the angels. Among the demon ranks they were not above killing each other to be at the "top of the food chain."

The appearance of these spiritual beings was well done, too. The angels are portrayed as warriors, huge and strong and very powerful. They have a feel of firmness and strict control over demons, making them an intimidating force, but with humans they are protective. And they make the reader feel safe whenever we read a section with them. The demons, however, feel dirty and twisted and, naturally, evil. They weren't described in detail, like the angels tended to be, but we're given enough of a description to get the idea, and imagine the rest, with black shadow, yellow or black or red smoke, black wings, and the general aura of evil. Nothing feels safe about them, only dark and greedy power. They're strong, and that can make a reader wonder if they will win or not.

The main characters and villains – human and spiritual – are all developed nicely. Hank Busche is a young pastor who is voted into the church and no one really knows how that happened, but it did and some people don't like it. Hank interacts more with the spiritual side of the enemy than Marshall does, going up against demon-possessed people and rebuking the demons. Hank's faith is strong, bringing him through whatever the demons can think to throw at him. He's not afraid to rebuke the sins of his little congregation, even excommunicating a member for their sins. I liked his boldness in confronting any and all sin, even when the world doesn't consider it a sin.

Marshall Hogan is very active in his mission to expose the truth about what's going on in his town. However, his passion for truth is also his weakness, and the demons (through their human pawns) use it against him to affect his family and business. But I liked Marshall's determination. He and Hank both are bold and straightforward, even if they're about two different things.

The human villains, the heads of this new way of thought involving demons and higher planes and things (I'm not even entirely sure how that works or what, it's just weird), are neck-deep in their meditation and demonic possession/communication. They're both evil and twisted, letting the head demon control their actions and decisions, zeroing in on Ashton.

We also have a few protagonists and antagonists in the spiritual realm to go along with the human ones. With the demons, Lucius and Rafar are instant rivals. They're working for the same side, but at the same time they're looking out only for their own interests. It causes an interesting tension between them, especially when Lucius is essentially dethroned by Rafar. There is a lot of tension.

Among the angels, Tal is a patient and strategic leader. Even when things seem to look bad, he bides his time, knowing this must happen before God claims the victory. He's a clever angel, very wise and very powerful. But he's not perfect, only God is. Tal isn't immune to injury, as we see later on. Another angel (who may or may not be a protagonist, but he showed up often enough, and he's my favorite) was Guilo. He's not as patient as Tal at hiding, and gets restless and itches to fight the demon hordes. When he's set loose upon them, he doesn't display anger or wears a stony frown. He's laughing, and he's mocking the demons he fights. I loved that about him. He loves the fight, like he knows that whatever happens these demons won't win forever, and he revels that his God will defeat them one day for good.

I liked seeing how whatever happened, whatever the demons did, God is always there when His children pray for help. Against the looming darkness that threatened to take over an entire town, Hank didn't lose faith, and the angels were confident in victory. It's a good message to us, too. Whatever evil is in the world, God will win.

****

Violence/gore: Petty crimes. Angels and demons war against each other. A character is punched in the face, and another is shot.

Profanity: Only referenced.

Sexual content: Mentioned prostitutes. People are falsely accused of rape/molestation.

Other: References to excessive drinking, and the jail in Ashton is definitely not the prettiest. The demonic activities among the humans are pretty dark and twisted, and might unnerve some readers.

Have you read This Present Darkness? What are your thoughts? :D

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Review: Dracula (Bram Stoker)

The father of all vampire tales sits in his castle, preying upon the helpless and plotting to extend his area of control. Dracula is a wonderfully cunning villain, able to strike fear into men when they haven't even seen him. When Jonathan Harkness arrives at his castle to help the vampire finalize the purchase of property in England, Jonathan experiences the horrors up close. When Dracula reaches England and is able to prey upon the people there, several brave people gather to put an end to him, combining their skill sets, authority, and their accumulated information about vampires and all the horrific deeds Dracula has already committed to stop him. 

Dracula was an excellently creepy book. The story is told through diary entries, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, showing through these reports the mission of the main cast of characters to destroy the vampire. The plot keeps the reader wondering what will happen, if the heroes will catch Dracula and stop him. Plot twists add additional obstacles and problems for the vampire hunters, and as it becomes a race against the clock, the atmosphere becomes very urgent, and the suspense grows and we're urging the main characters onward before it's too late.

There isn't really any one specific main character, but there are characters from whom we receive the most reports of the story. They all have their own voices as they record the happenings, and do not neglect to apply the accents and peculiar voices of the people they have had conversations with, like Dr. Van Helsing. So even through journal entries and correspondence we get an image of the characters, how they speak and act.

Van Helsing, speaking of, was an excellent character. He knew the most about vampires, and so he was the source of information for the others. However, he didn't give it all up right away. Because the idea of vampires seemed so ridiculous, Van Helsing withholds information until he thinks his knew friends are ready to accept it. So it takes a bit of time, and it can keep us in suspense as to what exactly he knows. Van Helsing also makes everyone – readers included – rather comfortable with him. He is quick to befriend, and in a way he adopts his little band of vampire hunters as his own children. He cares for each of them, and gives of himself wholeheartedly, asking for nothing in return except their trust, especially when things are unknown.

Dracula, the cause of this formation of what is probably the first vampire hunters, is exceptionally clever. When we and Jonathan first meet him, he is the most friendly and amiable host you would ever meet. Eager to please and be of any help to make business transactions smooth. But then we see his ferocity and bloodlust, and we realize that Count Dracula is no friend to us.

****

Violence/gore: As this is about vampires, there is drinking of blood. Dracula kidnaps children for himself and/or the three lady vampires. A woman in search of her child is devoured by wolves (but we see no details). Vampires are destroyed by the appropriate methods (not in detail, but might sound gruesome). A character is shot. Dracula murders a few people. Other acts of violence are not described in detail, like these, so they shouldn't be too unnerving.

Sexual content: Jonathan assumes a lady vampire is going to kiss him, and he feels eager for it, while she only goes for his throat to drink his blood.

Profanity: If any, I believe it was only referenced.

Other: Again, as this is about vampires, it is a bit dark. Things happen in the night that are mysterious and lend a flavor of twisted evil. Liquor is consumed by some characters.

What about you? Have you read Dracula? What are your thoughts? :D

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things (a Tag)


I was tagged for this by Wendy darling over at her blog. :D Thanks for the tag, dear! :3 This looks like cozy fun. ^_^

Rules:
Answer prompts with the wintery/Christmassy theme in mind.
Tag at least 5 of your blogger-buddies to take part.
Use the title picture I provided above.
Spread the love around!

1. Favorite “snuggle weather” Books
Ooh... I don't know if I have a favorite. o.O A good one might be The Mysterious Benedict Society books. :3 They're fun and cozy reads. ^_^


2. Favorite wintery/Christmassy Snacks
CHRISTMAS COOKIES AND EGGNOG, PEOPLE. EGGNOG IS GLORIOUS.


*clears throat* I am calm.

3. Favorite Hot Drinks
Hot chocolate. :3 And caramel coffee thing. I don't now if it's technically coffee but it's yummy. :3

4. Favorite Christmas Movies
Hmm.... Elf would probably be one. Prep & Landing and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are favorite TV specials. :3


5. Favorite holiday Songs
Nutcracker's Trepak (Russian Dance), Hark! The Herald Angels Sing... Oh! And the song from the Santa Claus is Coming to Town special, Put One Foot in Front of the Other. I know it's not exactly Christmas-y but it's in a Christmas TV special so it counts!

6. Favorite “snow day” Crafts
I don't do a lot of crafts.... do decorating Christmas trees and Christmas cookies count? :3

7. Do you wanna build a snowman?
Sure. :D If I had any snow at all. >_>

Our snow is late in coming this year. -_-

I Tag:
Oh boy... I'll tag Annie Hawthorne, Aimee Meester, Cait, Leslie, annnd... Melody. ^_^ There I found five people. ^_^

Images/gif found via Pinter. Except the title picture.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Beautiful Books Linkup 3


The third and final part of Cait and Sky's Beautiful Books linkup. :D NaNoWriMo is done, and we can all collapse in a heap of words, more or less 50,000 of them.

For this linkup, we discuss the results of the mad 50K dash this month. B) I hope you all did well, whatever your goals. :3


1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?
Oh, mercy... I'd say a 5, maybe. The whole thing veered off down a different plot path than I originally planned, and there were things that happened that I didn't see coming at all. I also didn't expect my villainess to be as insane as she was. That was almost terrifying. o.o 


2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
Uhh.... I don't know. o.O Nancy Drew meets Sherlock meets steampunk...?

3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
Mm, I think I could do both. I'd probably get more writing done with deadlines, but having the leisure to write as I please is nice too.

4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
To be honest, I haven't done a lot of heavy editing to my stories. I'll proof over them, reading and finding mistakes and things. But for the novel I'm editing now, I'm reading through, fixing mistakes, and sometimes removing stuff/changing stuff/adding stuff. I'm pretty sure Clockwork Apprentice (my NaNo novel) is gonna need a ton more work. It's terrifying, people. o.o

5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?
The characters, and maybe the research for worldbuilding. It's a horrific mess. Liam and Mariel, my main characters, need more tension between them. There's just a lot that needs work. ._. Character relationships developed as I wrote and I saw things I needed to more firmly establish. They developed as they went, so I have an idea of what I need. But still... o.o

6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?
Ooh... the characters. XD I loved seeing them develop and grow, and how they interacted with each other. They're all my darlings, I loved getting to know them as I wrote. :3 


7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?
Oh boy. Liam and Mariel are gonna need changes, for sure. At first I started them off as getting on together well, but as I went on things came about that suggested that maybe they rub each other the wrong way a lot, at least in the beginning. Although I caught on to that scheme right around where those two would be getting along, so everything before will be needing revising.

Mariel is a lively and eager to please girl. She didn't quite have the personality I wanted for her, but she still turned out well. She doesn't let much stop her from doing what she sets her mind to, even when it gets her into trouble. But she's sensitive to others, too. She cares for the people she loves.

Liam. My baby. He's essentially turned himself into a workaholic, but he also thrives on the smiles of the children he works to make clockwork toys for. He can be quiet and you might even forget he's in the room, and he doesn't talk about himself often. But when you put him with children, he lights up. He treats them as if they deserve the world and he only gives them a part of it. He treats them like royalty, and he their humble servant. :3 Liam's just the best okay. X)


8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
I don't know. :D I hadn't really thought about it, but I might try to find betas once I feel editing as taken its toll on the thing. I don't know if I'll publish it, but it's not out of the question, either.

9. Share a favourite snippet!
*plops big piece* :3 See he just lights up. X3

Mariel was startled when Liam's whole demeanor changed. He had a wide smile that lit up his face and made it look young as he swept off his hat.

Ladies and gentlemen of the court!” He announced, quickly capturing the attention of the four children in the room, two boys and two girls. “I come with an offering of peace and goodwill!”

Who are you?” the oldest boy asked suspiciously. “Who is she?”

This is the fair lady of Braithwaite!” Liam looked at the children in surprise. “Surely you know her? My lady! Forgive them their trespasses!” He gave a flourishing bow. The children's eyes swiveled to Mariel. She looked between them and Liam, still trying to recover from this sudden change of personality in Liam.

I suppose I will let it pass,” Mariel lifted her chin. “They are children, after all.”

You are most kind, my lady,” Liam bowed again. “But indulge me, we must remember that they are not just children. They are our noble patrons.”

What's a pay-tron?” One of the girls asked.

You didn't say who you were,” the boy added.

A patron is your honorable selves, my lady,” Liam replied. “Your business with me, a humble, lowly tradesman, makes you my patrons. And as for the young master's inquiry, I am as I said, a lowly tradesman. My name would not interest you. But I have gifts of wonder that will, I hope, pardon my intrusion.”

Did you sneak in?” the boy's eyes narrowed. “I'll tell Father.”

Oh, George, don't,” the girl said. “Let him stay.”

Liam looked at George, who hesitated, but nodded. Liam smiled and bowed to him. “Thank you, kind sir. Now, Lady Braithwaite, would you be so kind as you hold for me this box?”

Mariel took the square box, while Liam set the rectangular one on the floor. “Now, I have it on high authority the desires of your dreams and wishes. Do you believe me?”

No,” said George.

What is it?” the girl asked. The two littlest ones simply watched with wide, mystified eyes at this strange man. Liam winked at them.

Ladies first,” Liam turned to the eldest girl. “You are Misses Jenny and Viola, yes? This is for you.”

Liam placed on the floor the clockwork kitten Mariel had seen in the workshop. Jenny gasped. Liam then presented the youngest girl, Viola, the clockwork bunny, getting from her an excited squeal. Mariel smiled.

Me! Me!” the youngest boy reached for the box. Liam stayed his hand.

Patience, Master Murray,” Liam said. “I have not forgotten you.” He pulled out the clockwork lizard. Murray shrieked, imitating his sister.

And you, George,” Liam turned to the lad. George looked at the box doubtfully, but his eyes lit up as Liam gave him the little hawk.

Thank you, sir,” George gazed at it.

You are welcome,” Liam smiled. “Now, bring your treasures round, and I will show you how they work.”

Mariel grinned as Liam actually sat on the floor with the children and showed them the little brass keys and how to turn them. The nursery was then flooded with laughter and screams of joy. Liam watched them scamper after their new toys, then stood. Little Murray and Viola ran and hugged him. Liam's smiled softened as he knelt and hugged them, then Jenny. He straightened again and shook George's hand smartly before bidding them all farewell. The children, upon Liam's prompting said goodbye to Mariel who curtsied with a lenient smile.

Children love you,” Mariel said when they were outside again after the butler had given Liam his payment.

They love the toys,” Liam shook his head, his calm demeanor returning. “They won't remember me in a few days, only the toys that can keep up with them. The thing is to not betray them, however long or often they see you. Treat them with respect, as if they are at present the only people that you are concerned with, and they will show you the same, even if for a moment. With that established, the acquaintance is smooth, and can be engaged further if desired.”

You know a lot about children,” Mariel smiled.

They are my life's work,” Liam said. “To not know them would be foolish.”
--Clockwork Apprentice


10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?
My main plan is to edit my fantasy novel, then find beta readers. I hope to publish this, so editing and revising and the works are what I have planned. :D

(Images found via Pinterest. Except the linkup icon.)

What about you all? :D How did NaNo go for you? Or if you didn't do NaNo, how did your project go last month? What are your writing plans for 2016?