Thursday, July 20, 2017

Silmarillion Awards 2017: Award Presentation

Thousands of people stand in the middle of the road. Gates repel them back from a red carpet where men, women, dragons, wizards, cats, hobbits, marsh-wiggles, bird-like creatures, lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), and more walk lackadaisically toward a stadium. They walk lackadaisically because, at the beginning of the red carpet, both man and beast must stop for press pictures in front of a white canvas that says SILMARILLION AWARDS 2017 in big, green letters. Further along the red carpet, they must stop for interviews with television stations, Youtube channels, and famous bloggers. 
One blogger, gorgeous in a black gown which hides the heels she wore specifically to turn herself from a 5'2" hobgoblin into a 5'4" princess, stops a man so tall that her heels are pointless. 
"Hello, Aragorn!" says the blogger, with a smile that says she has worked in customer service.
"Hello," replies the tall man.
"Are you enjoying the red carpet tonight? Now, be honest."
"As a king, I have had to attend many events," says Aragorn. "I enjoy meeting with old friends and making new ones, but, I must admit, I prefer walking in the woods with my wife to walking down the red carpet."
"And where is Queen Arwen tonight?
"Eldarion—our son—has a cold, so she stayed home with him tonight."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure all of us here on the red carpet wish your son the speediest recovery! Now, Aragorn, there is a rumor running rampant that you will be presenting the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero for the second year in a row. Can you confirm this rumor?"
Aragorn smiles mischievously. "You will just have to wait and see."

The audience applauds uproariously for each award presented: the Silmaril for the Wisest Counselor! for the Least Competent Henchmen! for the character with the Silver-est Tongue! 
Now, the time has come to award the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero. A tall man walks onto the stage. He carries himself regally, which only makes him look taller. He wears a sword at his side and a crown on his head. The audience cheers when they see him.
"Hello," he says. "My name is Aragorn. I am honored to be here at the Silmarillion Awards for the second year in a row to award the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero. 
"There are many types of heroes. Some, like my good friend Frodo Baggins, choose to do the heroic thing—even though the task is usually a difficult one, such as going on a long and dangerous journey to destroy a powerful object. Others, like dearly departed Boromir, are born into heroic roles as princes, princesses, or people of power. 
"Many worthy heroes who fit both of these descriptions were nominated for this Silmaril. Five prevailed as the most heroic.
"In fifth place, we have Janner Igiby from The Wingfeather Saga."
The audience applauds for Janner. In the front row, he smiles graciously.
"In fourth place," continues Aragorn, "is Artham Wingfeather from The Wingfeather Saga."
Artham turns to Janner and shrugs, a smile on his face.
"Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles has come in third," says Aragorn.
Carswell looks down, disappointed. Then, he decides to make the best of the situation. He turns to the small woman next to him and kisses her. The audience interrupts their own clapping to say, "awwww!"
"In second place is Westley from The Princess Bride," announces Aragorn.
Westley stands up, bows, and sits down again.
"And the winner of this year's Silmaril for Most Epic Hero..." Aragorn pauses for dramatic effect. "Peter Pevensie!" 
The audience cheers, whistles, whoops, and screams. A young man stands up from the front row and races onstage. 
"Congratulations," says Aragorn. Smiling, he hands the young man his Silmaril.

"Thank you!" says Peter. "I did not expect to win such a great award! I would like to thank my parents for teaching me the difference between right and wrong, and I would like to thank Aslan for teaching me how to put the principle of right into action. Also, hullo to Susan, Edmund, and Lucy!" Peter waves to his siblings in the audience. A little girl in the second row stands up and waves back enthusiastically. Peter shakes Aragorn's hand and they leave the stage together. 
The presenter for the Strangest Character Silmaril enters...

"Wow! I can't believe he won!" the blogger with the heels says to a man standing next to her. "I thought for sure Westley would have won! He got second last year, too, y'know."
"Yes, I remember," replies the man as he fingers his beard. He is one of the few men in the stadium wearing a hat. And a very funny hat, too. It has a red feather stuck in it, and it's completely green. Actually, the man is dressed completely green, and he carries a bow and arrow. They are not for show.
"Anyway, I'm glad that Peter won. He deserved to win. And Robin Hood deserved to win last year. Both Peter and Robin Hood are very heroic, don't you think?"
The green-clad man smirks. "Oh, yes, very heroic," he agrees.
If this were a movie, the green-clad man would look directly into the camera and wink, but it is not a movie, and the oblivious blogger begins to walk away. She nearly trips on the hem of her dress as she goes, and the man in all green grins after her. He turns his attention back to the Award ceremony. 

Thank you for joining us for this year's Silmarillion Awards! And join the Silmarillion Awards crew on July 29th when everyone is invited to post on their own blog about fantasy and J.R.R. Tolkien! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017


Today, I am 21.


I was going to write a post about what I've learned over the past twenty-one years and intersperse pictures of me throughout, but when I looked at old pictures of my family and I, I started to see a pattern, so I thought I'd talk about that instead.

Ever since I was a baby, I have been inundated with books.

Every week, my mom and I would go to the library and take out fifty picture books (the library's limit) and measure the length of the receipt against my height.

Funny enough, this is the bookshelf that I brought with me to college!
Every night for more years than I can remember, my dad would read to me before bed.

As a result, I would read to my toys.

And I would read by myself.

And I would read with friends.

When my friends and I have a free afternoon, it is usually spent in a bookstore.

My family has given me a legacy of books that I hope to pass on to any children I may have in the future.

Even more importantly, my family has given me a legacy of faith in God that I know will accompany me through life.

I am very thankful that God placed me into the family that he did!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Silmarillion Awards 2017: Voting

The time has come for you to find out the top five nominations for the Most Epic Hero Silmaril. There were seventy-five nominations! Now, as I hope you've gathered, Silmarils are pretty spectacular things. They were, after all, crafted by a Child of Iluvatar. 
I won't keep you waiting on the edge of your chair any longer; here are the top five most-seconded heroes:

Westley from The Princess Bride- He's handsome (what with his eyes the color of the sea before a storm). He's strong (what with beating a giant in a wrestling match). He's a hard worker (what with being a farm hand for so long). He's an excellent swordsman (what with besting the most talented swordsman in the world). He's a smooth-talker (what with talking his way out of a death sentence). He's loyal (what with coming back from the dead—twice—to rescue the woman he loves). He is deserving of the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero.

Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles- Although Captain Carswell Thorne could be considered a criminal, he is also sweet and protective. He, too, is handsome, with bright blue eyes. He is loyal, protective, and funny. His quick wit lightens many a dark mood. He is deserving of the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero.

Janner Igiby from The Wingfeather Saga- Janner Igiby is a loyal twelve-year-old, who's had the task of helping look after his small family after his father died. Brave, but not above getting into many scrapes with his younger brother, Tink, Janner may be underestimated for his age. But it's the heart of the hero, and not the size, that really counts. He is deserving of the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero.

Artham Wingfeather from The Wingfeather Saga- Artham is half man, half hawk, and extremely devoted to his task of protecting the High King of Anneria and his siblings. Nothing is going to stop him from always being by their side - and anything that tries to get in his way had better look out. He is deserving of the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero. 

Peter from The Chronicles of Narnia- There is no one more deserving of a Silmaril than a High King, and Peter Pevensie happens to be one. Peter, as the oldest Pevensie sibling, is a nice balance of whimsical and grown up. He takes care of his younger siblings, but he is also willing to have tea with talking beavers and play a game of hide 'n seek. He is defensive of Lucy's imagination when Edmund teases her for believing in Narnia, but he is also willing to forgive Edmund after Edmund betrays Aslan to the White Witch. He is deserving of the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero. 

(Much thanks to Savannah for the descriptions of Janner and Artham.)

You will be able to vote for your favorite characters in the voting form at the end of this post, but before you scurry off to do that, I have two exciting announcements.
First of all, Faith T has won the giveaway of Where Carpets Fly and a King's Warrior bookmark! Congratulations! Jenelle either has or will shortly email you the details about what you've won.
Second of all, if you are bummed out about not winning the giveaway, do not fret, for there is a second giveaway! Yesirry, YOU could be the proud owner of this fabulous Grand Prize:

-One map of Middle-Earth.
-One copy of Aratar, Peredhil, and Halflings. Oh My! The Ultimate Tolkien Quiz by Benita J. Prins.
-One ring to rule them all (WARNING: Ring not meant for taking over the world. Ring also not meant for journeying to the nearest volcano so you can throw it to its doom.)

How can you win this grand prize? Well, somewhere in this blog post is hidden one line of a ten-line poem. Each of the other nine bloggers hosting the Silmarillion Awards also has one line of the poem included in their voting post. Each line of the poem is a link to the blog post with the next line of the poem. There is a place on the voting form to enter in all ten lines of the poem, which will enter you in the drawing for the Grand Prize!

And now, the voting form (which is the same on every blog, so if you've voted on another blog, then you should be good!):

powered by Typeform

Return on July 20 when a special guest will presenting the winner with the Silmaril for Most Epic Hero! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Silmarillion Awards 2017


Welcome to the second Silmarillion Awards!!!

The Silmarillion Awards is a celebration of J.R.R. Tolkien and fantasy! They are sort of like the Oscars, except they are held online, and the awards are to be won by a fantasy character and not by an actor.

There are ten different Silmarils to be won:

Tracy from Adventure Awaits is hosting the Wisest Councillor Silmaril.
Kyle Robert Shultz is hosting the Least Competent Henchman Silmaril.
Madeline from Short and Snappy is hosting the Silver Tongue Silmaril.
Savannah from Scattered Scribblings is hosting the Strangest Character Silmaril.
Deborah from Road of a Writer is hosting the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril.
Elise E. Rawls is hosting the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril.
DJ Edwardson is hosting the Most Magnificent Dragon Silmaril.
Zachary Totah is hosting the Most Loyal Friend Silmaril.
Jenelle Schmidt is hosting the Most Nefarious Villain Silmaril.

And here on Regarding Reading and Writing, I am hosting the Most Epic Hero Silmaril!

YOU, my friends, will be nominating fantasy characters for each of these Silmarils in the comment section of their respective posts (for example, you would not nominate Eragon for Most Epic Hero in Jenelle's comment section for Most Nefarious Villain). Here are some rules to keep in mind:

-All nominees must be from a fantasy story (dystopia, sci-fi, and steampunk do not count. If you are not sure about a character, ask in the comments, and I'll get back to you!).
-You may nominate as many characters as you like.
-If someone has already nominated a character that you have thought of, you may "second" their nomination.
-You may second as many nominations as you like.
-When you are nominating a character, remember to say which book he or she comes from! 
-Characters from Lord of the Rings cannot be nominated because they will present the Silmaril to the winner.
-These are lifetime Silmarils, so last year's winner, the glorious Robin Hood, cannot be nominated either.

Nominations are open from July 3-7, so nominate your favorite fantasy heroes below, and spread the word on social media using #SilmAwards2017. On July 9, I'll post the top five nominees, and on July 10, the voting form will be open for you to vote for your favorite fantasy hero!

A hero can be described as tranquil as a forest but on fire within. Swift as a coursing river. Forceful as a great typhoon. Strong as a raging fire. They are usually mysterious as the dark side of the moon. It helps if they are able to get down to business to defeat the Huns, too.

Some lovely people have donated prizes for this year's Silmarillion Awards, so enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a copy of Where Carpets Fly by Elise Edmonds and a King's Warrior (by Jenelle Schmidt) bookmark!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll announce the winner on July 9!

And don't forget you can buy some swaggy Silmarillion Awards merch. There are t-shirts and mugs! If you use the code TOLKIEN2017, you can get 10% off of your purchase until August 15.

Now let's get nominating!


Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Fire Alarm Fiasco

In last week's post, I mentioned writing a short story about evacuating my dorm room in the early morning hours, and I thought I'd share it this week! Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Without further ado... The Fire Alarm Fiasco:

Saturday, April 22, 2017, 3:40 AM.
A high-pitched screaming.
Cowering under the covers, hoping that it will stop.
My roommate shouting, “Guys! It’s the fire alarm! There’s a fire!”
This whole year has been leading up to this moment.
August 2016, Orientation week.
Rrrttt says my keycard as I swish it in and out of the lock on my dorm room door. I enter to find my two roommates talking excitedly by the window.
“Guess what happened?” Sarah exclaims.
“What?” I ask, setting my backpack on the floor.
“The fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate to the parking lot!”
“Wow! Was there a fire?”
“No, but three firetrucks came,” says Annie.
“What happened?”
“Someone on the boy’s floor boiled the water out of a pan of eggs.” Sarah’s posture and tone of voice say that she thinks boys should know better.
“I can’t believe I missed the excitement!” I say.
“Oh, I’m sure there will be another fire drill, Abbey,” reassures Annie.
She hasn’t a clue how prophetic her words are.
November 2016
We were going to watch a movie, but I can’t get the DVD player on my computer to work.
And then the loudest, the annoyingest, the shrillest noise attacks our eardrums. Silver flashing lights drive away any thought I had about my DVD player.
My heart starts beating quicker.
“The fire alarm,” says Sarah.
“Hnnnngg!” says Joseph.
“Should we go?” says Rebekah.
We gather our shoes and coats and Joseph’s keys and join the throng of students exiting the building.
“Let’s go to my car,” suggests Joseph.
So, we do.
The four of us huddle in Joseph’s car. Some of us are slightly annoyed. Others of us are slightly scared.
We hear the firetrucks before we see them, and we see their lights before we see the actual machines. The night is tinged blue and red. Three fire trucks arrive. Members of our bro-sis hall keep letting out the cozy bubble of warm air in Joseph’s car. They get in to talk with us. They get out to take pictures. Finally, Joseph—one of the annoyed ones—locks the doors and seals our bubble. We huddle under his backseat blanket.
Someone sounds the all clear and people walk back to the building. Had it been a drill? Had another boy made a gregarious cooking mistake? The mystery remains unsolved.
February 2017
“All I want to do is curl up on my bed with oreos and peanut butter and watch New Girl,” says Sarah from inside her black coat. She wears its faux fur hood over her hair.
“That sounds perfect. I’m going to join you,” I reply.
We trudge up the stairs, key ourselves into room 332, and lackadaisically drop our bags on the ugly, looks-like-the-80s-what-were-they-thinking-when-they-made-this-a-color carpet. We hurry to tear our coats off in our sauna-like room. Next, one boot off. Two boot off. Sweater off. Let the pit stains dry.
“NO!” yells Sarah.
The dreaded fire alarm.
One boot on. Two boot on. One arm back in the coat. Two arm back in the coat. We don’t zip ourselves up as we hurry out of the room and down the stairs. I had grabbed my backpack because homework is important, even in a fire.
But, it’s not a fire. It’s just a drill.
Saturday, April 22, 2017, 3:40 AM.
A high-pitched screaming.
I awake, thinking that it’s my alarm. I hit my clock a few times and figure that it must be one of my roommate’s alarms. I plug my ears, hoping the sound will go away. I’m in the process of sticking my head under my pillow to hide from the noise when Sarah says,
“Guys! It’s a fire!”
Immediately, I’m awake.
Of course it’s the fire alarm!
I don’t remember climbing down from my bunk. Somehow, I’m on the ground, shoving those sweat pants that my mom told me never to wear out of the house onto my legs. Shoving shoes on my feet. Shoving a jacket on over my oversized Walk MS sleeping shirt. Shoving my laptop in my backpack. My novel is on that laptop.
“Come on! We have to go!” Sarah urges. She has turned the light on so that we can see.
I grab my Star Trek blanket, and we leave the room.
Sleepy students rush to the stairwell and out of the building. Everyone is in their pajamas. Once outside, I drop my backpack in a patch of grass and go to Annie. She’s shivering. I am, too. I share my blanket with her. We look at our home, scouring the building for flames. I don’t see any smoke… Maybe the building is not on fire? The longer we stand in the freezing air, the more it seems like that is the case. I still shake. Partly because of the cold. Partly because of fear. My heart has not returned to a normal pace yet, but that could be because crush-worthy Peter is standing near to where I abandoned my backpack on the grass. My novel is on that laptop. I try to think of a way to get it back without having to interact with the boy from room 232.
“Where’s Joseph?” Sarah says suddenly.
He has not come out of the building.
She tries calling him. I realize that I left my phone in the building.
I see John, our RD, come outside with his newborn wrapped in a blanket. He deposits the baby in his car. His wife and young son join him. Groups of shivering, pajama-ed dorm-dwellers stand discussing the alarm and telling nervous jokes as firefighters (they only sent two firetrucks this time) examine the building.
The all clear is called. False alarm.

The next day, we learn the truth.
Someone on the boy’s floor burned orange chicken. At 3:30 in the morning. Orange chicken. ORANGE CHICKEN!
So, the year ends as it began: with boys trying and failing to cook.
The circle of life, indeed.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coming soon...


Last year, ten blogs (including this one) hosted the first ever Silmarillion Awards! The Silmarillion Awards is a ceremony that celebrates fantasy and J.R.R. Tolkien. YOU get to nominate and vote for your favorite fantasy characters, and whichever character receives the most votes gets his or her very own Silmaril!
But, Abbey, you wonder, weren't the Silmarils lost?
Ye-es... but we were able to find the ashes of Feanor and resurrect him so that he could craft us ten new Silmarils!
But, Abbey, what about Morgoth?
Haha *nervous laughter* W-what about him...? *cough cough* Moving on!

Last year, I hosted The Most Nefarious Villain Award, which the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia won. This year, Regarding Reading and Writing will host The Most Epic Hero Silmaril!

This year, there will be several new features to the Awards...
-Each blog is hosting a giveaway!
-There will be a scavenger hunt culminating in an Ultimate Tolkien Grand Prize!
-You can buy Silmarillion Awards swag! There's a mug and a t-shirt and they make me FAR too excited. All the money from sales will go to funding Silmarillion Awards in years to come. From now until August 15, use the code TOLKIEN2017 to get 10% off of your purchase!

Here is this year's Silmarillion Awards schedule presented in a handy dandy graphic (created by the multi-talented Deborah).

And here are links to the participating blogs:

Most Epic Hero Silmaril - Abbey @Regarding Reading and Writing

Go follow these amazing people! And start thinking of fantasy characters to nominate for the awards (excluding any Lord of the Rings characters, because they will be hosting the Awards, and excluding last year's winners, because these are lifetime awards and they already have a Silmaril!).
And don't forget to spread the word using #SilmAwards2017 on social media!
I can't wait to see you next week when nominations open for THE SILMARILLION AWARDS 2017.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The One Where I Update You On My Life

Could this be considered an Ishness post? I've never done one before, so I'm not exactly sure of the protocol. Let me know in the comments! 
For the uninitiated, "Ishness" is hosted by Deborah O'Carroll. She and other participating bloggers talk about what they've been doing lately... I want to talk about what I've been doing lately. So. Let'sa go-o.

I got a job! After several stressful weeks of searching, a local hardware store hired me as a cashier. If you ever happen to visit... first of all, how did you find out where I work?? Second of all, do not ask me to direct you to the ladders because I do not know where we keep the ladders. We carry everything from paint to propane to potting soil, from things that kill bugs to things that kill moss (I live in the Pacific Northwest where moss is a Big Problem), from whitewood-that-is-actually-gray to hula hoops. I don't know where any of these things are.

I don't know who made this gif, but I want to give them all the credit because Totoro hula hooping is just too cute. Also, I'd like to thank them for making a hula hoop gif that doesn't feature a half-naked woman. 
I've never cashiered before, so this is a good learning experience for several reasons. 1) With cashiering skills, I can now get a job at any store. 2) I'm forced out my cozy eggshell in order to politely and happily interact with strangers for long periods of time.
My (far more) introverted (than I thought) soul did not, initially, like interacting with strangers for long periods of time, but now that I am getting used to it and have worked on changing my attitude, I don't mind it as much.
Plus, it's a great opportunity to people watch! There are many, many, many different types of people who peruse hardware stores.
Here are some of the most interesting people that have come through my line:

-The old woman who bought $600 worth of soaker hoses. I asked her, "Do you have a big yard?" and she said, "No, but I have a lot of plants." Her plan was to hook up all the hoses and snake them through the yard so that she wouldn't have to use a sprinkler to water her plants.
-The man with the Star Wars t-shirt and the Chihuahua named Yoda.
-The old, deaf couple who told me "Thank you" with their hands, their eyes, and their smiles.
-The woman who wore her blue tape as a bracelet and looked far more regal than royalty.
-The man whose money made the cash register smell like cigarette smoke every time I opened it.
-The man who yelled at me for double checking that I got a price right.
-The talkative woman who went on and on about how easy it is to hide the true nature of things. Even people can put up a facade and you would never know until you marry them. (That story went from very philosophical to very sad in a very short amount of time).
-The woman who said she was having a s*** day (quite literally) because her husband had stepped in dog poop.
-The lady trying to discourage her elderly father from buying Mountain Dew.
-Oh, yes, and the two teenage girls trying to beat up their friend who had taken refuge behind the service counter. That was an interesting morning.

I also got an Instagram account where I post pictures of books with (what I hope are) witty captions.

My goal since finishing the fourth draft of my novel has been to write a short story a week. So far, I've written two and edited down the VBS skits to an acceptable length.
My first story is about a musician whose mother always sits in the front row of his concerts. The second story recounts the Terror of having to evacuate one's dorm at 3:30 AM because someone on the boy's floor burned orange chicken and set off the fire alarm (based on a True Story).

Somehow, I've managed to read seven books so far this month. I read Rosie the Riveter, which is about women in World War II. This is research for my next novel, which I will talk about in another blog post. What did I learn from this book? Mainly that if women in the 1940s could leave their homes and children to do hard, physical labor and raise the production of planes from 60 a month to 360 a month (and all while maintaining their waved hair and makeup-ed faces) so that their men could win the war overseas, then I can be a part-time cashier without bemoaning my life.

Contrary to popular belief, THIS is Rosie the Riveter, not the lady with her sleeve rolled up saying, "We can do it."
I also read The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones (the third and fourth books in the Chrestomanci series). I enjoyed them immensely. I liked The Magicians of Caprona better, though, because of the parts with Punch and Judy. Also because of Benvenuto the Cat.

I dunno about you, but I drool over these editions of Diana Wynne Jones' books.
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, however, took up most of my reading time this month. Several people whose bookish opinions I trust raved about this series. I tried reading it a year or two ago and couldn't get into it because of the clairvoyancy. This time, however, I pushed passed the first two chapters and read the entire series in two weeks. There is SO much in The Raven Cycle to talk about. I'd like to re-read the series and do a full review on it sometime in the near future. What I'd like to say now, however, is that, yes, Maggie Stiefvater's writing style is just as beautiful as people have said, her characters are flawed and real and wonderful, and her plot is unique and wacky. Also, yes, this series does have "questionable" content if you are a Christian. I say "questionable" in quotation marks because I have a lot of thoughts about this content. I would like to address this in a separate blog post, but, as I said, I'd like to re-read the series before I talk about it more on my blog. For now, I will say that I enjoyed the series a lot, but if I were to recommend it, it would be with extreme caution (at least until I can explain my thoughts about it). 

One thing I can say without re-reading the series is that THESE COVERS ARE SO GORGEOUS.
Now, I'm reading The Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve in preparation for the movie that Peter Jackson is making. I'd forgotten how much I like Philip Reeve's prose! I also plan to start the fifth Chrestomanci book soon. 

I watched Sherlock Season Four and it was So. Good. The middle episode was my favorite (mostly because of Mrs. Hudson). I had to pause the last episode several times to say "WHAT??!" I didn't like season three or the Christmas episode, so I was glad to enjoy Sherlock again! If Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat were to end the series here, I would be happy because they wrapped up the storylines and character arcs fantastically.

And now it's time for a confession:



I love sitcoms, and I have been watching quite a bit of Friends and Cheers since getting home from school. I started watching Friends at school, and I started watching Cheers again because I wanted a show where I could take a break from all my worries (sure would help a lot). Y'know, sometimes I want to go where everybody knows my name, and they're always glad I came. Cheers is a great show to make you feel that way.

I've been listening to my usual variety of contradictions. Jazz followed by '70s rock followed by classical music followed by Christian rock from the '80s followed by the Hamilton or La La Land soundtrack followed by heavy medal Middle Earth music.
The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band had its 50th anniversary a few weeks ago, so I've been listening to that a lot. In fact, I had to force myself to stop listening to it so that I wouldn't get tired of it. It's an incredible album, though. I watched a documentary on how the Beatles made it, and they pioneered several techniques and sounds with this album. They were a truly legendary band (but perhaps that's another blog post, too).

Let me know what you've been up to recently! What have you been reading? What have you been listening to? I love getting comments, so don't be shy. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Beautiful People: June 2017 // Draegond

~Beautiful People is a monthly linkup for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.~

Meet Draegond. He's married to Lynnie, who featured in last month's Beautiful People post! He'd like to answer this month's questions himself, so I shall turn The Blog over to him.

1. What's your favourite place you've ever visited?
I love to travel, though I haven't done as much of it as I would like. Before defecting from King John's guard, I had never traveled outside of Kasteel City. After I defected, however, I went straight to the mountains and crossed over to the desert beyond. It was so beautiful! And so sparse. I loved it. I would love to go back someday with proper supplies. Last time, I didn't bring enough water and passed out from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Finn's mentor found me and they were able to bring me back to health.

2. What's one mistake you made that you learned from?
Well, I definitely learned not to enter a desert without proper supplies! Ha ha ha. Another mistake that I made was returning to Amery after I defected. If you are going to defect, don't come back to the country that you defected from. Similarly, if you are going to do something that goes against order (like spy on your superiors, for instance...) make sure that you are not caught. You may not get a chance to learn from your mistake if you are caught! I was given the death sentence for defecting from King John's guard, but he had mercy on me and only demoted me. 

3. What was your favourite subject in school? Or favourite thing to learn about?
Much of my schooling prepared me for entering the king's guard, which I hated. It was all fighting and marching and riding and more fighting. Students preparing for the king's guard do get to take two classes of their own choosing, though (they're for if you are discharged from the king's guard, you know another trade). I chose art and craftsmanship. I enjoyed those two classes the best out of all the ones that I had to take. 

4. What's your favourite flower/growing thing?
I like small, round cacti. There were a lot of those in the desert. They have beautiful flowers. I also like those tiny, little daisies that grow in fields. 

5. Have you ever made someone cry? What happened?
I'm ashamed of this... I made my wife cry once. She still worked at the tavern, then. I had had a long day of work, and she had had a long day of work. At home, we got into a silly argument about how often the floor should be swept. I snapped at her. Then, she cried. That's another mistake that I learned from: even if you've had a long day, you can still act civil to your wife. 

6. Would you consider yourself a reliable or unreliable narrator?
I'm always reliable to those who deserve it. (This does not include King John, but don't tell him I said so, or he might actually have me killed this time.)

7. What do you dream about at night?
Sometimes I dream about the desert. Sometimes I dream about Lynnie and I picnicking in the fields around Kasteel City. Sometimes I dream about dark forests and the dark things that they contain. I don't often remember my dreams, but when I do—whether they take place in the desert or the fields or the forest—they always have dragons in them.

8. You've gone out for a "special meal." What would you eat?
Hmm... I do like a good leg of lamb when I can get it. Garnished with potatoes and potatoes. Mmmm.

9. What's at least one thing you want to do before you die?
I want to return to the desert and see dragons. That's why I went there in the first place, but I never saw dragons. 

10. Do you have any distinguishing or unique talents?
I like to fancy myself a good artist. That's not too unique, but it's my only hobby (beside adventuring, that is). I suppose I have the unique talent of looking intimidating (when, according to my friends, I'm really just a harmless turtle. I don't like going too fast, and I like sitting in the sun). 

Thanks for letting me answer these questions. Life as a dungeon guard is pretty boring when you only have one person to guard.

(I heard that!)

Finn! Quiet! This is my interview. 
Ignore him. He's just salty because he's been stuck in this dungeon for five years. He gets pretty bored, too. I should go back to him. Thank you again. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Wonder Woman Review

I have a confession to make. Before last week, I had never seen a DC movie. I've never seen a Superman film. I've never seen a Batman film. *holds out card* Here's my Nerd Cred. Take it away from me. I don't deserve it. Or, maybe you could be lenient because I did see Wonder Woman? You don't have to give it back right away... Why don't I tell you my thoughts and then you can decide whether or not I deserve my Nerd Cred back?

If you've seen the trailers for Wonder Woman, then this review won't be too spoilery. If you want to avoid all of the spoilers of ever, then I suggest you see the movie and come back here at a later date. 

Plot: Diana grows up among the Amazons—a society of women trained for war—on the secret island of Themyscira. In addition to being the daughter of the queen, she is also the only child on the island. Despite her mother's hesitation, Diana learns to fight, and she also learns that the gods created the Amazons to protect the world from Ares, the god of war.
One day, a plane flies through the barrier hiding Themyscira from the rest of the world. It contains Steve Trevor, a World War I spy. He explains the Great War to the Amazons and Diana is convinced that Ares has returned and that she must fight him. And So. Diana leaves the protection of Themyscira and travels to London and the trenches with Steve Trevor so that she may meet Ares in battle and destroy him once and for all so that the hearts of men will no longer be corrupted by his evil.

Wonder Woman spends a long time setting up the story. There is a lengthy introduction before the inciting incident (AKA Steve Trevor, if we're going to name names) happens. I felt that this threw off the pacing of the movie, as the audience spends a lot of time watching Diana grow up without having a reason to root for her yet. Also, throughout the movie, there is a lot of telling instead of showing. The Dump Truck of Exposition unloads several revelations on the audience instead of letting the Paver of DISS* smooth the information on the audience over a period of time.

*Disseminating Information Super Slowly.
Friend, Abby. Text message to author. 7 June 2017. (<---- This is my attempt to cite my source in MLA format. I think I deserve my Nerd Cred back now. Thank you.)

While I didn't enjoy the pacing of the movie, I thought that the plot and sub-plots were well done. I enjoyed the plot twists, too! They actually managed to surprise me.

Characters: Diana Prince (AKA Wonder Woman, if we're going to name names) is a lovely blend of innocence, femininity, and kick-butt deadliness.

She is innocent because she grew up in an ancient civilization while the rest of the world advanced for 2,000 years. She knows nothing about the world outside of Themyscira, which is humorous when she reaches London. Her innocence also shows itself in her mission. Her goal is to find Ares and she won't let herself get sidetracked, even if that means messing up the plans of others and looking like a fool. She doesn't know what constitutes acceptable behavior in WWI-era England, and so she does what she knows is right despite cultural standards. This turns her innocence into strength, for it allows her to stand up for her beliefs. I think we've all had times when we don't stand up for what we believe it because we are afraid to look foolish. Diana is a good example of standing strong in one's beliefs, even when everyone else is against you.
And she does it in a dress.
Despite being a warrior princess, Diana (and all of the Amazons) remain feminine. And their costumes aren't too revealing/distracting either (at least, I didn't think so)!
Diana is not only strong in conviction, but also in muscle. Countless times in the movie, she is the one to save her friends or march into battle first. She is no damsel in distress. While I have no doubt that she would have marched into battle just as quickly if she wasn't searching for Ares, her motivation is to find Ares. Her enemies stood in the way of her ultimate goal, so she fought them. Her determination and courage are just as inspiring as her strength of mind and confidence.
I think Wonder Woman is an excellent role model.
While it was hinted throughout the movie that she has more power than she thinks, it does not appear until the end. I wish that they had done a better job of building to this moment rather than giving her a Rey-like explosion of sudden power at the end.

Steve Trevor is a spy, soldier, and flying ace. Like Diana, he has a mission to accomplish.

Steve's mission is to destroy a new form of poison gas that can break through gas masks.

Are you my mummy? (I'm so sorry. I've been watching Doctor Who, and I couldn't resist.
While Diana is single-mindedly trying to find Ares, Steve is single-mindedly trying to find Dr. Poison and her concoction. He and Diana help each other, but they remain very focused on their own missions, which I liked. They understand that they will need to sacrifice even their friendship to save the world.
I loved the way they wrapped up Steve Trevor's storyline. It's not one that I've seen much before, and I highly approved.

There are many other characters in this movie. There are the Amazons (namely Hippolyta, who is Diana's mother, and Antiope, who is Diana's aunt/teacher), Steve Trevor's secretary Etta Candy, and Steve Trevor's friends Sameer, Charlie, and Chief. Because we spend so much time with the Amazons at the beginning of the movie, Steve Trevor's entourage aren't developed very well. They are more like caricatures than actual characters. I felt the same way about the villains.

Setting: As my dad's friend pointed out, Wonder Woman is set during World War I, which is odd for movies, since they usually focus on World War II. As someone who thinks World War I is more interesting than World War II, I loved the setting! I liked the historical touches, such as the fashions and the inclusion of chemical warfare. The characters even visit the trenches and No Man's Land (I loved that part). There were some jokes and slang that seemed a little too 21st century for the 20th century... but, mostly, I thought they did a good job representing the time period (especially since this is a superhero movie and not a historical film).

Themes: I was not expecting there to be such a deep theme in Wonder Woman. The main theme is that even though humans are evil, there is still good in the world and love conquers all.
According to the Amazons, humans were basically good until Ares came along and corrupted them. He is behind every war and every mean comment and every evil deed. Diana's worldview is shattered, and she realizes that humans are evil without Ares' help. She also realizes, however, that there are decent and kind human beings out there, too. And, ultimately, love conquers.
This is a message that needs to spread in today's day when terrorist attacks are normal, weekly occurrences; when homeschoolers are no longer the anti-social ones (I'M JOKING! DON'T LYNCH ME), but everyone feels lonely; and when the only way to win an important position is to attach your opponent's name to wild horses and have it dragged through the mud. In this kind of world, messages like Wonder Woman's are hopeful (and hopefully helpful).
While the moral of Wonder Woman is not an intentionally Biblical parallel, we can draw a parallel anyway. Humans are sinful, but there is still kindness in the world. Jesus' sacrificial love conquers evil and it conquers death.

Wonder Woman has its faults, but its titular character and its theme are strong. If you like superhero movies, or stories with strong female characters, then check out this movie!

Have YOU seen Wonder Woman? What did you think of it?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Did I Finish?

Did I finish the fourth draft of my fantasy novel by June 1?

And one week early, too.

As usual, editing went much smoother than I expected. I changed a lot of major things in this draft from last draft, yet it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be! I had a lot of fun making changes, spending time with my characters (they have become very familiar to me over the past years [even Finn, the little troublemaker]), and just reading through the draft. Maybe next draft I'll pay attention to all of the references I make and put them into a blog post, for I cannot seem to write a novel without including the titles of Beatles songs and other such inane foppery (my favorite was a rogue Tim Hawkins quote. Yes, this is a fairytale-fantasy).

So, what's next? Well, I know that I'm too close to this draft to see any flaws, so I'm going to send this draft to a few friends to read. I'm excited for two reasons:
1) My writing/reading/NaNoWriMo-ing friend/doppleganger from school Abby with No E gets to read it.
2) For ease of reading, I'm ordering two paperback copies of this draft! Eep!!

Here are some stats-
Draft: Four
Started: December 18ish, 2016.
Finished: May 25, 2017 at 10:35(ish)PM.
Worked on: Mostly December, April, and May.
Chapters: Sixty
Word count: 147,839

And, for the first time ever... here is a snippet:

Rozella led Finn and Ronan up the sand dune she had just climbed in her anger. She had found a surprise waiting for her on the other side. Now, she and her friends stood at the top of the dune looking down into a sandy valley. The light from the half-moon glinted off of at least a hundred scaly monsters.
“See, look!” Rozella hissed to her friends. “Dragons!”
Dragons, indeed. Dragons as far as the eye could see! And they were just waking up from their daily slumber. Their backs were easily twenty feet high. They were mostly brown and black, but there were also dark green, blue, and purple dragons. Occasionally a gold or silver dragon broke the monotony. Scales covered their entire bodies and they had horns protruding from their snouts and the tops of their heads.
As the four travelers watched, the dragons became more and more active. The beasts woke, stretched, yawned, and began walking around. Some groomed each other with reptilian-like tongues. Some tasted the air with those same tongues. Some fought. Some flew.
“Look!” gasped Rozella, as the first dragon alighted into the air.
Its powerful wings beat slowly at first and then faster as it rose. Wind from the dragon’s wings hit the travelers full in the face and they stumbled backwards. In a moment, hundreds of other dragons began flapping into the air. The gale force winds forced the travelers back down to their campsite where they hastily extinguished their fire. They desperately hoped that the dragons wouldn’t mistake them for prey.

I hope you enjoyed it! Now, I'm going to read.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Beautiful People: May 2017 // Lynnie

~Beautiful People is a monthly linkup for writers hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In.~

Lynnie is one of the minor characters in my fantasy-fairytale novel. She is Rozella's maid. 

1. Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents? 
Overall, very good. Lynnie is a little distant from her father because he works so much, but she knows that he is always there for her if she needs something. She is closer to her mother, or, rather, her mother is closer to her. Lynnie's mother has many sons, but Lynnie is her only daughter. She relies on Lynnie a lot and can sometimes be annoying in a way that only a mother can be to her daughter, but Lynnie loves her nevertheless. 

2. Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?
Yes. (That was an easy question. :P)

3. How did their parents meet?
Lynnie's father was a humble mill boy... Lynnie's mother was a humble farm girl. One day, she was sent on a mission to his mill to tell him that the next portion of wheat would be arriving late. He was very kind about it, even though he should have been angry since it was going to put the mill behind schedule. From that day on, she made sure to walk by the mill every day on her way home from the field, even though it was out of her way. One day, he followed her home and, after that, he walked her home on his way home every day, until his home became her home, too. 

4. How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
Lynnie would feel that it was a complement if someone told her that she was like her father, for her father is reliable and kindhearted. If she were turning out like her mother, on the other hand, Lynnie would be appalled. Her mother loves learning the latest royal gossip and spreading it to whoever will listen. She is also very particular about her children and grandchildren; people call her a hen. Lynnie doesn't like to gossip, and she would rather have her children as free-spirited as possible. 

5. What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
Lynnie's father was working hard at the mill and Lynnie's mother was expecting their first baby. 

6. Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
Lynnie believes that King John's treatment of the lower classes (of which her family hails from) is deplorable and that they should do something about it. Her father agrees that King John treats his peasants horribly, but he thinks that it is too dangerous to speak or act against the king. 
Lynnie and her mother disagree on celebrity gossip. Lynnie thinks that her mother should find better things to engage her time, but Lynnie's mother is convinced that one day her knowledge of All Things Royal will come in handy one day (it turns out that she is right).

7. What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
Lynnie was never content to stay at home to learn mending or cooking. She was always out exploring the countryside with her brothers. This was fine, except that Lynnie's parents didn't always know where she had got to! When their family was forced to move to the city, Lynnie explored it on her own. Often, she wandered into parts of town that she was not supposed to go as a peasant. Her parents spent many afternoons wondering where she had gone and if she was going to come home that night. 

8. What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
Lynnie remembers refusing to learn to sew as a little girl until her father came to her and asked her a special favor to him to learn to sew so that she could help her mother mend the clothes for the family. Maybe someday, he said, she could help her mother make the quilts that the family made for extra money, and then Lynnie would be a productive member of the family. From that day on, Lynnie decided to love sewing. 

9. What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
She was an amiable baby. She hardly ever cried and smiled a lot. When she learned to crawl, she never stopped until she learned to walk. She has been going place ever since. 

10. Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?
"Lynn" was the name of Lynnie's grandmother. Her parents wanted to honor Grandma, but they also wanted to make their baby's name unique, so they added "ie" at the end of her name.