Thursday, August 10, 2017

Series I've Never Finished

Hello, my name is Abbey, and I have a problem. I read the first book in a series, and then I never finish the series. Even worse, I read the synopses of the rest of the series online because I'm curious to find out what happens, but I'm not curious to read the books myself!

If you have a fear of unfinished series, look away now.

1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.
After reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time when I was fourteen, my mom suggested that I read Anne of Green Gables. I didn't want to read Anne of Green Gables, and I wasn't attuned to the language of classics yet, so I never read beyond Book 1.

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
This is another book that I read when I was fourteen that I didn't enjoy much. I read it because I love the movie that stars Martin Freeman, but the book fell short of my expectations (I still rated it four-stars on Goodreads, though? I'm confused. Maybe it's time for a re-read).

3. Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve. Also, The Mortal Engines. 
I didn't continue with Fever Crumb because Philip Reeve killed my favorite character! After that, I lost interest in the story.
The two reasons I read The Mortal Engines is because 1) Jack Lewis Baillot raved about it on her blog a few years ago and 2) Peter Jackson is making it into a movie. I read the first book a few weeks ago and liked it, but I didn't like it enough to continue reading the series (especially after I read the synposes of the other books online).

4. Crater by Homer Hickam.
This is a great space book where people have settled on the moon. Even though I loved the first book, I've never gotten around to reading the rest of the series. I don't think I ever will.

5. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.
Again, a great sci-fi book. I've heard lots of great things about Ender's Shadow, but I never got around to putting it on hold at the library. I think by this time, I'd have to re-read Ender's Game before reading the next book.

6. Heist Society by Ally Carter.
This is a book that a friend recommended to me. It's about teens that go around stealing paintings for a reason that I've forgotten. It was okay, but I didn't feel compelled to finish the trilogy.

7. City of Ember by Jeanne Deprau.
I've read this book twice and enjoyed it both times, but have never been interested in continuing the story.

8. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
I loved this middle grade book when I first read it. If I had been younger when I read it, I definitely would have continued with the series. Because I was sixteen, I didn't read any of the other books. It's on the "Books to read to potential future children" list.

9. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a fabulous book and a fabulous movie. I have several of its sequels on my phone, but I don't like reading electronically. I'd love to read more Pimpernel books someday...

10. Eragon by Christopher Paolini.
One of my good friends read the Eragon series and loved it. I gave it a try and enjoyed the first book, but *shame face* I read the synopses of the other books online. They are so long, and Eragon was similar enough to The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars that I didn't want to put time and effort into the series if I could watch the same plot in movie form.

11. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
I've read this book twice, and, nope, I still don't have a desire to continue with the rest of the books.

12. The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer.
I picked this one up in the YA section at the library. It had an interesting premise, but too much romance. If the second book had been out at the time, I might have continued. Now, too much time has passed, and I can't remember the plot, so I don't think I'll ever finish this series.

13. From Earth to Moon by Jules Verne.
This book ended in a KILLER cliffhanger (and poor Jules Verne's audience had to wait FIFTEEN years for the sequel!), but the writing is so sciencey that I don't know if I could handle reading the sequel.

14. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
This is the only book I've ever rated one star on Goodreads. Yeah, I won't be reading the rest of this trilogy. Ever. The characters were caricatures, the plot was cliche, and the writing was passive (just like this sentence).

15. Horatio Hornblower by C.S. Forester.
I have a love-hate relationship with nautical fiction. I love it because of the sea, I hate it because I have a hard time reading it, which is why I never continued on with Horatio Hornblower.

16. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.
Because this book has weird formatting and takes place in space, I thought that I'd love it. Unfortunately, I thought all of the characters were the same, and the swearing annoyed me because it was blacked out. Either commit to having swearing in your book, or don't include it at all. All that blacking it out does is draw more attention to it.

17. Heap House by Edward Carey.
This is one of the most unique books that I have ever read. I highly recommend it if you want something unlike anything you've ever read before. I'd like to continue this series, but I need to read the first book again before I can do that.

Here are three honorable mentions:

18. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
I read this book right as it gained popularity and then read the synopses of the other two books. In 2015, I re-read The Hunger Games and went on to read Catching Fire as well. I doubt I'll ever read Mockingjay, so this series will stay incomplete.

19. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.
I love Inkheart. I think it's a fabulous book. I tried reading the sequel, but didn't like how dark it became. Also, Cornelia Funke killed my favorite character, so I kind of lost interest in the series after that.

20. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.
I loved the first book in this series! The second book dragged in the middle but became exciting at the end. I tried reading the third book, but I gave up. Maybe someday I'll finish Mistborn. I'd really like to because I really like Brandon Sanderson. He also killed my favorite character, though, and that's when I felt like the magic left the series (I'm sensing a trend here).

What I think we've learned here is that I lose interest in series when my favorite character dies, and that if I'm not invested in a series, I will take the lazy way out and read the synopsis online.

Have YOU read any of the series on my list? If you have, which ones should I continue?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Strangest Browser Searches Tag

Madeline J. Rose created a tag and tagged me! This is going to be a fun one, folks.

The rules:
-Access to your browser history and look through it.
-Pick at least 5 of your strangest searches you’ve had to look up as a writer.
-List them below with a short explanation as to why exactly you had to look them up.
-Tag 2-5 other bloggers.

1. "stab wound scar"
Google Images greeted me with some grisly pictures after searching this. I think I was researching scars because one of the characters in my fantasy novel has one and I wanted to make sure I was describing it correctly. Around this time, I also looked up "how do scars work" and "keloid scar" (which is a type of scar that grows on top of the injury. They are firm, rubbery, and raised).

2. "furious violin piece." And when this yielded unsatisfactory answers... "violin music angry"
Unsurprisingly, this was for a short story I wrote about a musician. He gets angry at his mom, grabs his violin, and goes outside to play away his frustration. I ended up choosing "Summer" from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi because I was already familiar with it.
Also searched for this short story: "saint-saens pronunciations," "shag carpet 80s," "how do middle school orchestras work," and "black silk dress."

3. "beauty pageants in ancient greece" 
Apparently, they were called "kallisteia." I may or may not have been researching this for a retelling of Snow White which I may or may not be writing in the next few months.

4. "how to tar a road/what is the machine that tars a road called"
I never found out the answer to this and had to use a different metaphor for my story. If anyone knows what these machines are called, please let me know!

5. "simple explanation of gravity"
I usually write/edit my church's VBS skits, and this year the theme was science. I figured that the kids would need a simple explanation of scientific principles because, y'know, they're kids (NOT because I know very little about science and needed a simple explanation myself *COUGH COUGH* Ahem).

6. "ugly color"
<Context not found> (but I know it was for a story)

7. "book about women working for boeing/women working in factories in WWII/rosies wwii"
This is research for my next book. Don't worry, all will be revealed soon! Anyway, I found only one book about women working for Boeing, but I found a lot of books about women working in factories during World War II. I read a few of them for general information. When I start writing, I will go to the Internet for more specific research.

I tag:
Jack Lewis Baillot
Kendra E. Ardnek
Zachary Totah
DJ Edwardson
and anyone else who wants to do the tag!

What's the strangest thing YOU'VE searched on Google for research?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Timey-Wimey Timelines

In all of my years travelling through time and space (via stories and not the TARDIS, unfortunately), I have noticed a trend.

Rather than write and publish books following the timeline within their books, authors tend to write and publish their stories out of order. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is the quintessential example of this. Does one start reading with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (in order of publication), or does one start with The Magician's Newphew (in chronological order)?
This question has sparked many brush fires between passionate Narnia fans. (Please no brush fires in the comment section. I've lost my fire extinguisher, and I would not be pleased if my blog burned to the ground.)

The Chronicles of Narnia is not the only example of this publishing order/chronological order debacle. I'm reading The Worlds of Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones right now, and she jumps all over Christopher's timeline from book to book.
Second Son, the sequel to Jenelle Scmidt's King's Warrior, is really a prequel focusing on one of the characters in the first book.
The fifth incarnation of the Warriors series by Erin Hunter is a prequel series.
Even I am planning on writing and publishing books out of order. If I ever finish my fairytale-fantasy novel, I'd like to write a collection of prequel short stories about a few of the characters (and after that, I have a four-book series planned about the history of my world. I may be slightly too ambitious).

So, why do authors write books out of order? I have several theories, the first of which is that writers do...

Authors are creators, and creators don't have to follow the rules. Of course, it is good to know the rules before breaking them. For example, I know that coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so—aka FANBOYS) are not supposed to start sentences, yet I have started this very sentence with one!
Likewise, it is good to know the rules of good storytelling, and, generally, good storytelling has a beginning, a middle, and an ending—in that order. But (see, I'm starting another sentence with a coordinating conjunction. I do that a lot, and a little piece of my soul cringes every time, but I do it anyway) that doesn't mean that every story has to have the beginning at the beginning. A series can start in the middle, and the sequel can go back to the beginning before the third book wraps up with the ending. It just depends on what story the author wants to tell first, which brings us to my second theory.

Often, authors don't think in a linear timeline. I know I don't. Sometimes, the story I want to tell right now is out of order with other ideas set in the same world. This could happen because we writers have one idea before coming up with the ideas for prequels, or it could be because we don't want to spoil a character's backstory.

Speaking of backstories, sometimes there isn't room enough within the main story line to explain a certain character or a particular part of the worldbuilding, so the author has to write an extended meander through history to share that part of his or her creation with the audience.

So, are out-of-order stories not as good as in-order stories?
No way! Although it can be confusing and annoying (because you want to get back to the characters and plot that you fell in love with during the first story) to read books out of chronological order, the author has a reason for publishing books in the order that he or she did.

Those are some of my thoughts. Let me know yours in the comments!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fantasy Books I've Been Inspired to Read

The Silmarillion Awards 2017 have come to an end, and my to-be-read pile has grown exponentially. I must admit, I haven't read as many fantasy books as I thought I had, so, in celebration of the genre (and in celebration of Lord of the Ring's publication on this day 63 years ago), here are some fantasy books that this year's Silmarillion Awards have inspired me to read (the links lead to each book's respective Goodreads page):

The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. Both last year and this year, characters from The Wingfeather Saga rose to the top of the nominations, and now to the top of my TBR (all right, maybe not the tippy top, but pretty close).

The Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan. I have heard good things about this series for many years. I want to know why the names Will and Halt incur such rabid joy. I even went as far as to get this book out of the library. Unfortunately, I also took out ten or so other books and never got to The Ranger's Apprentice before it had to be returned.

Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal. Again, I have heard so many good things about this book! I follow Mirriam Neal's blog and am always impressed with her posts. I can only assume that her stories are just as good. Plus, this book has a cat in it, and I'm a big fan of fictional cats.

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. A few years ago, I read Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoyed it. I know several people who have read The Stormlight Archive and highly recommend it. From what I know of it, it sounds like a great book! If only it weren't such a daunting size...

Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight. This series has garnered a lot of interest and praise across the blogging community. Everyone I know that has read these Chronicles has enjoyed them. Initially, I wasn't too interested in the summary, but the more I hear about these books, the more I want to check them out! Plus, the covers are gorgeous.

Halayda by Sarah Delena White. Jenelle's review first sparked my interest in this book. Then, when several of the characters showed up in the Silmarillion Awards, I decided to definitely add this one to my TBR!

Sentinel by Jamie Foley. While Jet, one of the characters from this book, did not have a lot of votes in the Silmarillion Awards, all of the votes that he did receive were so enthusiastically given that it interested me in the book to which he belongs. Sentinel doesn't look like a book that I would normally pick up, but any book with a character as well-loved as Jet must be good, right?

Percy Jackson by Rick Riodan. Some day I will read these books. That is all I have to say.

The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elizabeth Stengl. I read the first book in this series last year, and I wasn't too impressed. This is such a well-loved series within the blogging community that I want to give it another try, though. I've been told that the series gets better and better as it goes along, so maybe I will have to pick up a later book.

The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz (our very own Silmarillion Award presenter!). Someone nominated a character from this book for the Silm Awards which first caught my attention. Then, someone on Twitter described The Beast of Talesend as Doctor Who meets P.G. Wodehouse (um, YES, PLEASE). Until about five seconds ago, I knew nothing more than this, and then I looked up the synopsis. It's a detective story, people! Was this book made for me?? Maybe. Either way, it is now on my TBR.

Have you read any of the books on my list? Did you like them?
Did the Silmarillion Awards inspire you to read any fantasy books? Let me know which ones in the comments below!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beautiful People: July 2017 // Writing Process

How do you decide which project to work on?
Generally, the project chooses me. I'll be sitting on the couch, or listening to a sermon, or helping someone at work, and then I'll glimpse an Idea out of the corner of my eye. The Idea and I will make awkward eye contact, and then I know that I'm marked for life. Or, at least until the Idea is finished with me. It takes me captive until I research, plot, write, and edit it. Only then does it let me out of the dungeon where it's been keeping me in feet shackles (once, an Idea tried to put me in wrist shackles, too, but that didn't work out so well because I couldn't write with my hands tied together). 

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
Ha. ha. ha. What does "finish a project" mean? At the rate I'm going, I'll have a book out every five years or so. 
My first novel took roughly two years to finish from start to end. The novel I'm working on now has been in the works for three-and-a-half years. Short stories generally take me a week or so to finish (same with school essays). I've yet to finish a novella, so they take me even longer than novels.
Maybe it takes me so long to finish projects because my Ideas shackle me to the floor of a deep, dark dungeon, and that does NOT put me in a writing mood (see next question).

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
Nope, no routines, but water (hikes near streams... being by the ocean... when it's raining... in the shower...), puts me in a writing mood. Classical music also tends to put me in a writing mood because, as a kid, I would make up stories in my head to go along with the music.

What time of day do you write best?
I've been trying to figure this out, and I don't have an answer. I don't think I have a specific time of day that I write best. I do most of my writing in either the afternoon or evening, but I don't think that means I write better then. Generally, I write the best when I am well-rested in both body and mind. 

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
Perhaps children's authors from the early 1900s? Like E. Nesbit. Or maybe middle grade writers like Sharon Creech or Jeanne Birdsall. I would describe my writing style as simple, clever, and classic. Whether or not anyone agrees with that assessment is another matter. 

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
I guess I started writing because I had stories to tell. Before I could write myself, my parents would transcribe stories that I told to them. They encouraged storytelling and creativity. I still have stories to tell, but now I'm more interested in how stories are told. Language and what it evokes fascinates me. I love learning the power of choosing words and punctuations that will make a reader feel a certain way. 

What's the hardest thing you've written?
In terms of content, I wrote a short story a few weeks ago that changed from a sweet friendship story into a psychopathic murder story really quickly. It creeped me out, and it was hard to finish because of that. I haven't looked at the story since then (even to edit) because I'm scared of it.
I also wrote an essay about my grandfather's death, and that was difficult to write, too. 
In terms of difficulty level, I wrote a ten-page research essay (with ten sources) about gender roles in fairy tales (and received an A) last semester. I worked SUPER hard on that paper, and I'm very proud of it. 

Is there a project you want to tackle someday, but you don't feel ready yet?
Yes, yes, yes! There are several projects, actually. One of them is a series of short stories about a space cafe. I've wanted to do a series (similar to a TV series, with seasons and everything) for ever. When I was younger, I planned out a series based on my American Girl Dolls. When I started watching Star Trek, I planned out a series based on Deep Space Nine. Around summer of 2013 or 2014, I had the first idea for this space cafe story. Occasionally, I'll work on the characters or the plots or the worldbuilding, but it's just not time for me to write these stories yet. 
If you've been following me long enough (AKA, if you've been around since I blogged on Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter), you may remember two characters named Daniel and Varina who were spies. These two characters have been with me since 2012. I've written numerous short stories and three-and-a-half novels about them. They are my favorites. They are the closest to my heart. But, they have no plot (the ones I came up with in 2012 are never going to see the sun). I need to re-haul pretty much everything about their stories, but now is not the time to do that.
I also have several stories set in the same world as my fantasy-fairytale novel (y'know, the one I've been working on FOR-EVER), but I don't feel ready to write them yet either.
Someday all of these stories will leave my brain box. BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.  

What writing goals did you make for 2017, and how are they going?
My one writing goal for 2017 was to finish my novel by December 31st. I've been working on this story for far too long. I'm ready to move on to other projects. 
Recently, I added several more writing goals for 2017. They are as follows:
1. Figure out what to do with the Novel once I finish it. (I've completed this one... but spoilers, darling. I can't share my plans quite yet.)
2. Write six short stories over the summer. (I've written four so far.)
3. Research women in World War II for my next novel, and write the parts in the book that deal with this topic before I go back to school (again, I'd share more... but spoilers! This particular Idea does not want you to know about it until next month. It's threatening me with starvation, so I'd better listen to it).

Describe you writing process in three words of with a gif!

(Because I spend more time thinking about each word in my sentence as I go along than actually writing anything down.)

Tell me a little bit about YOUR writing process! What puts you in a writing mood? Do you have a particular time of day in which you write best? How long does it take you to start a project (from Once Upon a Time to The End)?