Friday, November 17, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

Hello. I need to take a blogging hiatus. 


I have so many fun ideas for posts, and I have so many things that I want to share with you, my lovely friends and followers... Alas, I do not have time to blog right now. This frustrates me because blogging is a creative outlet for me while I'm writing papers and literary responses and other required schoolwork. Unfortunately, I just don't have time to devote to blogging because of assignments, papers, and exams. I need to not feel the stress of another "assignment" in trying to get a blog post out every week or every other week. 
So, I am giving myself permission to let blogging go until the end of the semester. Expect a lot of blog posts to come your way after December 21 and into the New Year! 
Also, keep your eye on my Twitter and Instagram, for it's more likely that I'll be able to post there than on here. 
Until mid-December, then... 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

NoNoWriMo

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year.


No Novel Writing Month for me.
I'm breaking a six-year streak, and I feel horrible about it.


I simply don't have time to plot and write an entirely new novel right now.
But I won't be forsaking writing all together... No. I may not be writing a new project, but I am working on an old one. One of my goals this month is to work on my Unnamed Fantasy Novel (you know, that one I'm planning to publish next summer that STILL DOES NOT HAVE A NAME) every day for one hour (or one chapter... whichever happens first). I'm planning on cutting a lot of unnecessary content, especially at the beginning of the novel. Why yes, I am terrified. The beginning of this story has stayed mostly unchanged since the first draft. I've been so attached to it that I haven't been able to cut out much. Do you guys ever suffer from that problem?
I'll let you know how the amputation goes.

Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year! I know you can do it. Tell me about your project in the comments!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Ups and Downs of Being Invisible

Although I wrote this story over the summer, it is seasonally appropriate, as several of you pointed out, so enjoy!


My best friend is invisible.
No, he’s not a ghost, and he’s NOT my imaginary friend, whatever my parents used to say. He’s just invisible, and he always has been.
Once, a green frog sang about how it’s not easy being green. Well, it’s not too hot having an invisible best friend either. It’s like when you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and you maneuver around your furniture in the dark so that you don’t stub your toe or bruise your shin, only to habitually turn on the bathroom light and blind yourself.
No, having an invisible best friend is not easy. When we were kids, Wendall and I would take our evening bath together. We sailed the seven seas in our bathtub pirate ship. We surfed the waves of Hawaii on our bars of soap. We became weather gods who created a tsunami to drown the peaceful settlers on the white tile beach next to the porcelain ocean.
When my mother would come to scold me for getting bathwater on the floor, Wendall wouldn’t confess his part in the flood. He stayed silent, the little bugger, and I had to endure the entire punishment. At least I had company in time out; Wendall follows me everywhere, for I am older.
Sometimes, having an invisible best friend is great. On principle, I do not eat vegetables that look like summer or winter trees in miniature. My mother, however, loved to serve minuscule flora. Wendall has no aversion to tiny trees, so whenever Mom served broccoli or cauliflower, I gave mine to Wendall. He ate over at our house a lot, which was good because Mom served broccoli and cauliflower a lot.
As we grew older, Wendall and I forsook our nautical adventures in favor of braving the land beyond the borders of my house. We explored the mysteries of the box hedge until every branch and every leaf had been assimilated into our kingdom. We ventured passed the wrought iron gateway into unknown territory. We exchanged grassy paradise for hellish asphalt, and we found that we enjoyed the escapades the asphalt gave us better than the pleasure paradise provided for us.
We wandered farther and farther from the front yard until our feet beseeched us for mercy. We promoted ourselves from feet to roller skates to bikes. Wendall and I would wheel ourselves to the park where I would watch the birds and the people while Wendall walked to Wal-Mart across the street. Wendall haunted Wal-Mart. He considered it a second home. (My home was Wendall’s first home because he spent so much time there.) Because Wendall is invisible, he used to steal us sodas and snacks from the store until we were banned from ever entering that particular Wal-Mart ever again. Somehow, the security guard discovered our scheme and came after us in the park one day.
Actually, he came after only me because he couldn’t see Wendall. When the security guard caught me, he blamed me for shoplifting. Just like when we were kids playing in the bath, Wendall didn’t confess his part in the crime. The security guard banished me from Wal-Mart, and I, in turn, banished Wendall. If I couldn’t go there, then neither could he. Wendall disappeared for a while after that because I made him scared when I yelled at him.
I didn’t actually know that Wendall was gone, of course, because Wendall is invisible. He could have been sitting next to me the whole time giving me the silent treatment, and I wouldn’t have known it. I’m fairly certain he was gone, though, because the empty space off of my left shoulder was just a little emptier than usual.
Then, I turned sixteen, I earned my driver’s license, and my parents bought me a car. Wendall can’t resist cars, so he appeared again. He didn’t have his driver’s license, so he sat in the passenger seat and seduced me to speed while he turned the radio up too loud.
There’s nothing quite like driving too fast with the windows rolled down and rock blasting out of the speakers. The wind dries out your eyes so they water and make the road blurry, and it numbs your hands so that they don’t feel like a part of your body anymore. The music pulses in your veins alongside your heart and fortifies your mind against any other sound. It’s bliss, until the cops pull you over.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” the cop asked.
“No,” I replied, and I really didn’t.
“You were driving in the carpool lane, and you’re alone,” said the cop.
“No, I’m not,” I said.
I explained about Wendall, but the cop didn’t listen, and Wendall didn’t speak up, like usual. One ticket later, I yelled at Wendall again, and he disappeared again. This time, I knew he was gone. Not only was the empty space next to me emptier than usual, but Wendall’s pillow and blanket disappeared from my closet (his honorary room as my best friend), and chills stopped running up and down my body as they usually do when Wendall enters a room.
I missed Wendall more this time than the last time he disappeared. I felt like you do after watching something intense, like a fireworks show. As the white light streaks into the sky, leaving behind a trail of smoke, and explodes in white, red, blue, and green, every muscle tenses unintentionally, waiting for the BOOM that reverberates into the grass beneath your feet and travels up into your body. After the show finishes, you feel hollow exhaustion, and you are not sure why.
That is how I felt when Wendall disappeared.
Luckily, he returned quicker than last time, and he came back with a request: he wanted to drive my car. I was so happy to have my best friend back that I agreed to Wendall’s entreaty. I spent that afternoon teaching Wendall how to drive. We laughed at his mistakes and wrestled when we disputed.
That night, Wendall drove out of my neighborhood and onto the freeway. He drove faster than I do. He drove us to a party. I remember that night only in flashes: a blue front door with a knocker on it. Writhing bodies on a dark dance floor. Red Solo cups. High cut shorts. Low cut shirts. Messy hair. Running makeup. Music. Music. Music. The front door again. Stumbling to the car. Wendall driving. Laughter as we drove in S’s down the road. The road no longer in front of us. A house. A jolt as we made a hole in the house. Red and blue flashing lights. Trouble. Trouble. Trouble.
I don’t remember what we told the cops, but my punishment was community service and paying for the damage caused by my car. Wendall totaled that car, and my parents did not buy me another one.
I turned eighteen, and I did not go to college. Who needed college when I could support my lifestyle by working at the factory? And what a lifestyle it was! A two-room apartment with a TV and plenty of time to muse about life. Pop tarts and ramen and re-runs of the Simpsons. And Wendell.
He didn’t contribute to our household. He ate all of the pop tarts. He was hardly ever at home.
Until one day he returned and interrupted one of my musing sessions. He announced that he was covered in blood.
“What?!” I exclaimed. I dropped the last pop tart on the carpet and did not pick it up again.
Wendall again announced that he was covered in blood. When I enquired whose blood it was, he said in a sassy voice that it wasn’t his.
“We have to get you cleaned up, man,” I said, panicked.
I took Wendall to the bathroom and turned the shower on for him. I climbed inside with him and helped him to wash the blood from his body. I saw it spiral down the drain and I felt sick for two reasons. One was because it is unsettling to see blood in your shower, and the second was because it is unsettling to see blood in your shower without seeing where it comes from. Eventually, the water turned from red to clear, and I knew that Wendall must be clean again. He still wouldn’t tell me whose blood it had been or how it had gotten on him.
I soon found out when the police arrived.
“You’re under arrest for the murder of the Wells family,” they said.
I expected Wendall to speak up, to confess, but of course he didn’t.
I’m in prison now. Sometimes, I get a chill, and I know that Wendall is nearby. Sometimes, he leaves me pictures of hangman’s nooses. He’s a little grim, but that’s probably because he’s invisible. I asked him to bring me a razor. After all, since he got me into this mess, he should be able to get me out of it. I’m confident that he will bring it for me.
That’s what best friends are for.
THE END

***
What did you think? The next one won't be as creepy! Don't worry. Happy Halloween. And Happy 500th Year of Martin Luther pinning his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Meet Una Van Allan

A few months ago, I introduced my next writing project, She's Leaving Home, which is about three friends who go on a road trip around the United States together. I thought it would be fun to introduce you to the main characters, so I found this questionnaire. First up in Una! 



1. How old is she mentally and physically? 
Una is 64 years old both in physical age and mental age. She was called an "old soul" as a child and has finally grown into her age. 

2. Did she have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

Una would say yes, but everyone else would say no. Una was born in 1920, and she is the youngest child in a large family. She doesn't remember her father because he died from World War I related injuries when she was three. Her mother and brothers worked hard to feed and clothe the family, but when the stock market crashed in 1929, Una's family first lost their jobs and then their house. While her oldest three brothers and sister traveled West à la The Grapes of Wrath, Una, her mother, two sisters, and one brother moved into a Hooverville. Despite bad circumstances, Una remained happy. Her mother taught her at an early age to be content and joyful in all circumstances. Una remembers her childhood as an adventure, even though she didn't always have enough food to eat or any toys to play with. 

3. Past/present relationships? How did they affect her?

-Una has a close relationship with her family because they relied on each other so much when they were growing up. They taught Una how to trust, how to be grateful, and how to be joyful.
-In 1941, a young man named Dirk Van Allan began courting Una. After World War II, they married. Dirk has had the biggest effect on Una. He taught her about unconditional love and bravery. He also watches out for her well-being because, sometimes, Una is so busy taking care of other people that she forgets that she's a human with needs, too. 
-Una's two best friends are Annie and Maebeline. She met them during World War II when they all worked in a factory together. Annie taught Una about selfless service and hard work, and Maebeline taught Una that it's good to let go of logic and propriety sometimes in order to have fun. 

4. What does she care about?

Una cares deeply for disabled and discarded children. Because of this, she and Dirk have adopted several orphans. Additionally, Una cares about parents who have had their children taken away due to neglect or improper treatment. Una cares so much about parents and children that she started a program within her church to equip parents with the skills needed to take care of their children.

5. What is she obsessed with?

Helping people. In fact, Una is so other-focused that she forgets to take care of herself.

6. Biggest fear?

Deep down, Una worries that she is not good enough. Although she genuinely loves to help people, she sometimes goes too far because she is worried that if she doesn't take every opportunity to help people, God, her family, and her friends will leave her. 

7. What is the best thing that ever happened to her? The worst?

The best thing that ever happened to Una was marrying Dirk. The worst thing that ever happened to her is a spoiler. :)

8. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to her?

Once, Una, Annie, and Maebeline decided to rebel against the men running the factory where they worked, so they didn't wear their hair turbans to work. They wore their hair long and luscious... and Una got her hair caught in the machinery! It didn't hurt her beyond a sharp tug, but Una had to wait for her male overseer to come and set her free. So much for asserting her femininity! 

9. Biggest secret?

Una's biggest secret is that she is tired. She is tired of always giving 110% of herself to the service of others. She is tired of the worry that comes with caring for so many people at once. And she is scared that this tiredness is selfishness. 

10. What is the one word you would use to define her?
Selfless. 

What do you think of Una? Come back in a few weeks to meet the next of my travelling old ladies: Annie! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Kitchen Adventures: Eating at College

Dear relatives, friends, and parents who are concerned that I am a starving college student...

Food no longer looks like a word after making that graphic

Don't worry: I AM EATING.

Everyone at my school has dining funds to use at the cafeteria, cafe, and Eagle's Nest (which features burgers and ice cream almost exclusively). Since I am over twenty-one years old, I have $250 in dining funds, which is $1,200 less than I had last year, and I am SO happy about that! Last year, I had such a hard time getting rid of $1,450 worth of meal funds every semester, especially since cafeteria food is gross. Also, the only way to eat $1,450 worth of food is to eat junk, and I'm not about that life (usually).

This year, I am cooking for myself. I have a whole freezer full of meat and a George Foreman. I'm set.


I make a lot of eggs and a lot of potatoes.

Omelet
Egg scramble with potato
When I'm too tired to make myself dinner, I make myself burritos or quesadillas.

Sad, warped picture. I don't know what happened. 
When I'm not too tired to make myself dinner, I make a pork chop or a chicken breast or a sausage.

 

Sometimes, I order Chinese or pizza or Noodles & Company.


I also eat a lot of sandwiches.

I wouldn't say that I'm a great cook, but I'm slowly learning a thing or two. I wouldn't say that I'm eating the healthiest that I could be, but I'm not getting nearly as many stomach cramps as I did last year, so I must be doing something right.

All this writing about food has made me hungry, so I am going to go and make myself something to eat.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Some Thoughts on Poetry

I'd never have thought I'd say this, but... I'm enjoying poetry.


I've never enjoyed poetry because I'm a literal thinker, which makes it hard for me to understand imagery. Additionally, the poetry that I had been exposed to before coming to college was sappy and sad, and I didn't like that.
Right now, I'm taking a class on how to write poetry, and it has made me think about poems in a way that I never have before. Learning about how technical poetry is, reading a variety of poems, and writing my own poems have helped me enjoy poetry for the first time in my life.

Poetry is much like prose in that you have to think about what you write, use specific and concrete language, and the first draft is never perfect. Poetry requires just as much revision as stories, articles, papers, or blog posts. I would say that writing poetry is even more complex than writing prose.
Just like it takes a soprano years of practice and technique to make a Puccini aria sound as easy to sing as Old Mcdonald Had a Farm, it takes a poet years to master form (or lack thereof), meter (or lack thereof), and literary devices (such as simile, metaphor, synecdoche, synesthesia, and other types of imagery).
Because poetry is so specific (especially if you are writing within a certain form or meter), every word is carefully picked out and placed in its appropriate spot so that there are enough syllables in a line or so that a rhyme will be perfect.

Form refers to a specific type of poem, such as a sonnet or a ballad. My favorite forms that we've learned about are pantoums, sestinas, and villanelles because they feature repeating words and lines; if you change the meaning of a word or line slightly, your poem can go in a completely different direction than you had originally intended!
The villanelle, for example, contains five tercets (five stanzas of three lines each) and a quatrain at the end (one stanza of four lines). The first and third line of the first stanza repeat alternatively in the the following stanzas, and then both of them are repeated in the quatrain. The most famous villanelle is Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas. Check it out, and you'll see the form!

Poems can also be written in a certain meter. Meter refers to how many syllables are in each line of a poem. The most well-known meter is iambic pentameter. An "iamb" is a pair of unstressed-stressed syllables, such as "the dog" or "predict." An iamb equals one "foot." "Pentameter" means that there are five iambic feet per line. There are many more types of meter, but I won't list them all (unless you really want me to).
When reading a poem, you can do something called "scansion," which means that you are examining a line and figuring out what meter it is in. Then, you write a dash above unstressed words and little u's above stressed words. It looks like this:

I love the technical side of writing, so form and meter have been right up my alley, but my poetry class has also been learning about modern/freestyle poetry, which doesn't necessarily stick to a certain form or meter. It's much looser and relies more heavily on imagery. I enjoy writing poetry because I get to play around with words and sounds and syllables.

Here is the first poem I wrote in class. It's an epistle (which is a fancy word for "letter"):

A Letter Home
By Abbey Stellingwerff

If you sniff, the air is sweet here.
Sweet and warm.
Comforting like clean laundry or cookies.
A scent like cyclamen upon the wind,
with a snag of cow.

If you listen, it sounds of bugs;
mosquitoes.
They buzz like that out-of-tune piano.
Cicadas clatter all the day and night;
catalectic.

If you sit and watch the weather,
storms arrive.
Leaf-strained wind hugs strong like a long-lost friend.
A boom-crash! across the Midwestern Plains;
thunder smothers me.

If you eat, prepare to eat well:
casserole,
sweet corn—butter drips down face and fingers—
meat and potatoes. All American.
No yucca fries here.

If you look up, foreign faces
smile at you.
Friendly farmer's salute hides a headache
caused by a fixed world of red-checked flannel.
Pick-up trucks abound.

Distance destroys disagreements.
I recall
only the memories that make me smile:
laughing and walking and talking and you.
Love from, your daughter.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Summer dreams, ripped at the seams

Bu-ut, oh. Those su-u-ummer... nah-hi-ights.


You may remember that last year when I came to school, nearly all blogging stopped. I posted once or twice a month (if that), and I disappeared entirely in February (what a rare gift—sorry, that was a Lord of the Rings reference in a Grease-inspired post). When I realized that I hadn't posted anything in February (not even a courtesy post to say that I was on hiatus), I vowed to myself to post every week* until the next school term began. Aside from one week, I kept that vow, and I have been very proud of myself for that.

*Tip for beginning bloggers: never tell your followers that you are going to post a certain thing at a certain time because, inevitably, something will come up to mess with your schedule and then you will face the moral responsibility of lying to your audience. If I had known that as a young blogger, I could have saved myself a lot of stress and guilt.

Now, I am at school again, so what will happen here on Regarding Reading and Writing?

My wish and intention is to continue blogging every week. I have a document with weekly post ideas stretching into the New Year, so I have no lack of material. Time, on the other hand, is a precious commodity. When I write blog posts, I usually write and schedule two or three at a time so that I don't have to worry about content for a few weeks. I'd like to keep doing this, but I may not be able to manage it because of how much work* I have this semester.

*And by work I mean lying in bed dying of the Plague because I get sick a lot at school. I got sick on the first day of class! And not just the "Oops, you got the back-to-school cold" kind of sick. No, I got the "Oops, you have a super high fever and have to stay in bed for three days" kind of sick. Now, it's several weeks later and I'm sick again with the back-to-school cold/fever. If anyone has a spare, working immune system lying around that they would like to donate to a poor, sick college student, I know a girl. 

One type of post that I'd like to do over the next few months is publish the short stories I wrote over the summer on my blog. I've already shared one (The Fire Alarm Fiasco), but there are four more. I want you guys to pick which one you want to read first, second, third, and fourth! I'll give you the title and a brief synopsis and you can tell me in the comments which order you'd like to read them in.

If Music Be the Food of Love is about a boy who grows up with a single mother who is a violin player. She teaches her son music and follows him throughout his musical career. This story features experiments in description and imagery. 

A Simple Trip to the Beach is actually two short stories. They are about a page each and were inspired by a family reunion. One features a rabble of brothers and the other features three sisters. 

The Ups and Downs of Being Invisible was going to be a fun friendship story. Somehow it turned into a creepy murder story. I haven't opened the document since I wrote "the end" because, frankly, I'm a little scared of what I wrote. I shall be brave and open this document for you, though, O my Followers. 

Miles the Organized Man is about exactly what it sounds like. It is about a man named Miles who is very organized, and it is about what happens as a result of his organizational skills. 


Blog...
I'm not going to give up on you, so let me know in the comments what order you'd like to read my short stories in, and keep a weather eye out for more posts! They're on their way. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What Summer Reading List?


I need to stop making summer reading lists. Every year, I have such good intentions... and every year, I end up reading entirely different books than the ones that I picked out.
This year, for example, I wanted to read a mix of Shakespeare, nonfiction, and the rest of the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones.
What did I read instead? ALL Young Adult/Middle Grade books (with one or two nonfiction books for research). On one hand, I feel ashamed. On the other hand, I feel accomplished because I read a lot of books.

From May through August, I read twenty books, and here they are:

May: 

The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The second of the Chrestomanci books. This one followed Christopher as a child, and I enjoyed it immensely. 

The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The third of the Chrestomanci books. This one was one of my favorites because it had cats and a nice protagonist and Punch and Judy.

June:

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson – 5 stars. This is a book that I've loved for many a year. Highly recommended if you like journeys, rivers, and seas. Also if you like stories about orphans relocating to far away relatives, interesting characters, and boys named Finn who are hiding from the law. This book is great for kids 8+.

Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones – 4 stars. The fourth of the Chrestomanci books. This one was my least favorite, but it was still nice. I enjoyed the ending a lot, but the setup was a little slow.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. Oh, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I have many mixed feelings about this series. I have plans to re-read it over Christmas break so that I can write a full review on the books. 
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. 
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater – 4 stars. 

Rosie the Riveter by Penny Colman – 3 stars. This is a nonfiction book about women in World War II. I read it for research for my future book She's Leaving Home. 

July:

The Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 3 stars. A steampunkish book set in a future where cities move. It was okay, but I didn't enjoy it enough to finish the series. Peter Jackson is turning it into a movie, which I am excited about! 

Slacks and Calluses by Constance Bowman and C.M. Reid – 4 stars. This is another nonfiction book about World War II. This one is about the authors' experiences working in a bomber factory. I enjoyed it a lot! Highly recommended. 

Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones – 5 stars. The fifth of the Chrestomanci books. Along with The Magicians of Caprona, this one was my favorite. It had a crazy, moving house, fun characters, and shenanigans.

The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones – 3 stars. The final of the Chrestomanci books. I didn't like this one as much as the others. I thought it was too long and meander-y; however, I would recommend the entire series for people who are looking for an easy, whimsical read. 

August:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – 4 stars. This is a book about a circus and a romance. I loved the circus, but I didn't enjoy the romance. Recommended for people who like magical realism, monochrome colors, and slow-moving stories. 

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson – 3 stars. I enjoyed the realism in this book, but mostly felt meh about it. Recommended for those who like history with a splash of magic and stories where a girl pretends to be a boy. 

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman – 3 stars. A Sleeping Beauty retelling with a twist. I've discovered this summer that I love Neil Gaiman's ideas, but not necessarily how he executes them. I suppose it's a difference in style. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 3 stars. A sad book about dealing with grief. I enjoyed it, but, at the same time, I felt like the book's message was just beyond my grasp. Maybe I need to read it again to fully understand everything. 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – 3 stars. This book is about a boy whose parent's are murdered, so he is adopted by some ghosts. I enjoyed the setting of this book and I enjoyed exploring the graveyard with the main character, but, again, Mr. Gaiman's writing style doesn't match my reading style. All of his books get points for having great illustrations in them, though.

I Am Lavina Cumming by Susan Lowell (audiobook) – 5 stars. This one is a childhood favorite. My mom and I listened to it on the car trip back to the Midwest for school. Recommended for people who like accurate historical fiction, good storytelling, and orphans going to live with distant relatives. This is another book that is great for kids age 8+.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (audiobook) – 5 stars. This is my favorite Penderwicks book. Again, my mom and I listened to this on the way to school. Recommended for people who like the ocean, family stories, and friendship stories (though please please read the first two books in the series first! They are worth it).

What did YOU read this summer? Have you read any of the books on my list? 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Editing and Publishing, Oh My!


Two weeks ago, I announced that I'm going to publish my Unnamed Novel (maybe I should just call it that?) next summer.

How did that come about? you may wonder. 
I'm wondering that, too, if I'm honest, because at the beginning of the summer, I had no intention of publishing this book (at least, not for a long, long time).
I've known since the beginning of the year that I wanted to finish this book by the end of 2017. As I've said before, I have been working on this book for nearly three years, and I am ready to move on to other stories.
Perhaps knowing this is what made me decide to publish. I mean, once you finish a story, you have only two options: publish it or leave it in your documents folder for all of eternity (I mean, I guess you could also print it out and have it buried with you so that in one-hundred years, when the aliens dig you up, they can have something nice to read, but what's the probability of aliens knowing English anyway??).
I don't want my book to stay in my documents folder for all of eternity, so publishing is my only other option (if we throw out the aliens).

So, how are you going to publish your book? might be your next question.
I'm going to self-publish it. I've worked so long and hard on this story that I don't want to change plot points or character arcs to fit with what's trending right now/what a publisher thinks will sell. Also, I want this book to be finished. I want it out of my hands and into the hands of the public As Soon As Possible. If I were to find an agent, query my book, and get it published the traditional way, it would be years and years before I got it published. I'd rather finish it and publish it myself.

Which website are you going to use? may be your next, logical, question. 
You may not know this about me, but I self-published a book four years ago called After the Twelfth Night (a Tintin-esque adventure based on two Shakespeare plays. It's not at all historically or Shakespeare-ically accurate in any way and very much a first novel. This next novel is much better). I used Lulu.com and had a pleasant experience; however, I think I will publish my next book through Amazon's service, Createspace. I have heard good things about Createspace from people I trust, and it's easy to connect it to Kindle eBooks. I've never made an eBook before, so the easier, the better!

What's your next step? can be your final question
Finish the book, of course!
...Oh, you wanted a more specific answer? All right.
I'm back at school now, but I'm planning on reading the last round of comments on my novel and applying them to draft four before Christmas. Then, over Christmas break, I'd like to go over it again. Hopefully, it will be as near to "finished" as I can make it, though I'll probably go over it another time or two before next summer. Sometime between now and Christmas, I need to cut out some words. The novel is about 147,000 words right now, and, according to my research, that's too long. I'd agree.
In addition to the continued editing process, I'd like to come up with a title. That's kind of important.
My dad did the cover for After the Twelfth Night, and it was beautiful, so I asked him to do the cover for this book as well. He agreed! We've already been discussing what it will look like.

On the blog, you can look forward to The Long and Winding Editing Road updates, a title reveal, a cover reveal, and more over the next twelve months!

Tell me your what you've been working on—writing or otherwise—in the comments!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kendra E. Ardnek's Cover Overhaul!

Fellow blogger, author Kendra E. Ardnek, is re-releasing all of her novels with new covers! I've read several of Kendra's books, and they are great, so check them out! 

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.



The Bookania Quests:


Aren't these covers gorgeous??? I can't decide which one I like the best! I love that they look like water color paintings and I love the color scheme. 

Sew, It’s a Quest:
Tagline: Two twins in a fairy tale world must find their Fairy Godmother before their eighteenth birthday, lest they forever be stuck with the other’s gift.

Do You Take This Quest?:
Tagline: A prince’s quest for allies against his misery uncle and a madcap race to get home for a wedding
Revision notes: This book has one added chapter, a few (potentially) added scenes, and a severe edit. Again, focus is going to Robin’s character development. I hadn’t the maturity to completely handle her emotional situation when I wrote this book, and now I intend to fix that.

My Kingdom for a Quest:
Tagline: Prince Arthur’s quest to take back his kingdom, and Casperl’s quest to find out how, exactly, he’s a prince.
Revision notes: This book was mostly clean … but it’s getting a part two. AKA, book 3.5, The Quest for a Quince, AKA, Casperl’s story. There will be a edit to part one, though.

The Ankulen:


Tagline: Jen knows she had an imagination once – how far will she go to get it back?
Revision notes: Mostly just a thorough edit. I don’t foresee any great changes.

The Rizkaland Legends:



Water Princess, Fire Prince:
Tagline: When two teens are pulled into another world, fire and water must work together to defeat a dragon.
Revision notes: Again, mostly a thorough edit, but there will be a few continuity fixes, and I’ll be adding a bonus scene to the extra stuff at the end.

Lady Dragon, Tela Du:
Tagline: Only the Tela Du stands in Amber’s way for ruling Rizkaland forever. Petra would much rather find her long-lost sisters than fight a Lady Dragon.
Revision notes: Edits mostly.

Kendra is giving away a full, signed collection of her books, so check out that information here:

List of participating blogs:

Comments on my blog and on everyone else's blog count as points toward the giveaway, so comment and let Kendra know how amazing her new book covers are! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Successful Summer

Summer is over, and I am back at school. I had a lot of goals for myself this summer, and I completed a lot of them! Today, I thought I'd share them with you.



WORKING
Regrettably, several black holes have obscured part of this picture. 

I got out of school in mid-May. Almost immediately, I started searching for a job. I didn't want to work for my previous boss because I needed more hours than he could give me. I also wanted something with more human interaction as picking up trash in industrial parking lots is a solitary job. Well, I traded out a job with no human interaction to a job with constant human interaction. A hardware store hired me as a cashier. 

I enjoyed my summer job a lot! At least, for the most part. This particular hardware store has been in my city for ninety years, which means that it feels like you have just stumbled upon a gathering of your great-uncles who grew up on the farm and, therefore, know everything about nuts, bolts, watering systems, tools, paint, plumbing, and electrical, and don't mind talking about it. 
This kind of "Mom and Pop" atmosphere draws an... interesting crowd to the store. I helped contractors who were only interested in getting the tools for their current job. I helped little old ladies who only wanted to buy plants. I helped Asians intent on making sure each and every price was right. I helped Hispanics who were always ready to smile and talk with me. I helped people who clearly had never been in a hardware store and were only there to buy one thing and then leave as quickly as possible. I helped long term customers who sang the praises of the store. And then I helped people like Dean. Dean—and other old men like him—were always ready to flirt with me and the other young, beautiful cashiers. 

I worked approximately 340 hours this summer (72 of those hours in the last week of work, hence the lack of a blog post a few weeks ago), and I learned a lot about people. I have a deeper well to draw upon when I'm creating characters, that's for sure! 


READING
From my Instagram

From the time school ended to now, I read twenty books. Nearly all of them were middle grade/YA books with a few nonfiction thrown in. I read the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I also read a bunch of standalones. Stay tuned for more on them in my summer reading list wrap-up post! 


WRITING
Caution: Writer At Work

One of my summer goals was to finish the fourth draft of my fantasy-fairytale novel by June 1, which I did. You can read more about that in this post. I'm excited to begin draft five, especially since in my last blog post I announced that I am going to publish this book next summer! But, more on that in my next post.
In addition to completing the fourth draft of my book, I wrote approximately 20,000 new words. This includes five short stories and a blog post nearly every week. I participated in The Silmarillion Awards again this year, which was SO much fun!


OTHER
Into the fog. 

I had a birthday. I'm twenty-one now! Which means that I am legal to do almost anything except run for national government.
I also did a bunch of Fun Things like climbing a mountain (albeit a small mountain, but a mountain nonetheless), canoeing with my dad and uncles and cousin, waking up at 4:00AM to catch a ferry so that I could spend thirty hours with my friends in one of my favorite places on earth, and exploring a stream with one of my best friends.

It's been a good summer! I'm excited to be back at school, though. I've missed learning, and I've missed my friends. I can't wait to see what adventures the next academic year holds.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

My Next Book

All summer I've been hinting at a secret writing project that I've been working on, and it's time to reveal all! 
But, first, some backstory to build anticipation. 

At the beginning of the year, my roommates and I were in bed, talking in the glow from our string of Christmas lights. I can't remember exactly what our conversation was, but it involved being old, single ladies traversing the world. Thus, I conceived a Story Child.


I wrote down my Story Child so I wouldn't forget it, and I fell asleep. I figured that maybe someday I'd write this story, but then I kept coming up with more and more ideas for it. I thought of names for the main characters. I bought a book for research.
Then, I came up with a title. 
Now, that is quite a big deal for me. You've probably noticed that I have trouble naming things (*cough cough* that fantasy-fairytale novel with no name, even after three years *cough cough*), so that I actually had a title for this idea is Big News.
I'll spare you more backstory. Here is the title (and, yes, it is taken from a Beatles song):


She's Leaving Home is about three friends. They haven't always lived near each other, but they have remained devoted to one another over many years. And they share the same dream: they want to travel around the United States. Now, though they are old and frail, the three friends decide to make their dream a reality. Japes ensue.

Basically, this story is about three grandmas who take a road trip.

I've done some research for this idea (though I need to do a LOT more), and I've done a lot of thinking about it. I'm not quite ready to start writing it yet, but I do want it to be the next story I write (though with a new semester of college beginning, who knows when that will happen).

So, She's Leaving Home is my latest story idea, but what will my next book be?

Huh? you may be asking yourself. But I thought She's Leaving Home is Abbey's next book?
Well, yes, it is the next book I want to write, but it is not my next book to publish.

*dramatic pause for you to catch on to my meaning* Need a little more help? Let me leave you with this...

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?