Saturday, January 20, 2018

Meet Annie Jones

Remember ages ago (way back in October!) when I introduced y'all to Una, one of the main characters in the next book that I want to write? Today, I want to introduce you to another one of my old ladies (a.k.a. the main characters).

1. How old is she mentally and physically? 
Annie is 69 when the book begins, but she feels about 80. Annie is an old-fashioned broad made even older by her conservative upbringing. She's also not in the best of health (so she thinks) and complains (though she wouldn't call it that) about her joints and her bones and her skin all day every day. 

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

Not particularly, by today's standards. Her parents were very strict and didn't allow their children to have much fun. Annie's childhood consisted of working hard in school, working hard at home, and going to church. 

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

-Annie grew up with both of her parents, a younger brother, and a great-aunt in the house. Her great-aunt and father were the ones inspiring a good work ethic and unwavering devotion to church into the other members of the family. While Annie appreciates these things, they did cause her to grow up a bit judgmental with a low tolerance for nonsense and imagination. They've also caused her to be grumpy and easily-annoyed because, somewhere, deep down, she is under the impression that fun=laziness. You'd be grumpy, too, I suppose, if you thought you could never have fun. 
-Annie is married to Herbert, who is also traditional and stuck in his ways. He doesn't usually take other's feelings into account and under-appreciates everything Annie does for him. Although he is not mean, he believes that force is a good way to accomplish things. As a result of being married to Herbert, Annie has become a bitter old lady and a bit spiteful. 
-Una and Mae are Annie's best friends from forty years previous when they met working in a factory during World War II. They remain the only people who can get Annie to have fun and not feel guilty, belly laugh until she cries, and be nice instead of stingy to strangers. 

4. What does she care about?

The loves of Annie's life are her four sons, three daughter-in-laws, and six grandchildren. Annie despises coffee with the other old ladies at church, she hates small talk with grocery store clerks, and she can't stand conversation with her husband, but she has all the time in the world for her children and grandbabies. 

5. What is she obsessed with?

See above question. Also, she's obsessed with knitting her grandchildren clothes while their mothers look on, horrified. 

6. Biggest fear?

Annie worries a lot about her grandchildren and their health and safety. Her biggest fear is that one of them will fall ill, or fall over, or fall in love with the band Queen (whom she thinks is the spawn of the devil himself [*cough cough* a view that the author does NOT share]).

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

The best thing that has ever happened to Annie is meeting Una and Mae. Without them in her life, Annie would be even MORE crotchety than she already is! I dread to think of an Annie with her Una and Mae. The worst thing to happen to Annie was losing her first baby, a girl. She doesn't talk about it. 

8. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to her?

One time, Annie and Herbert were having an argument about who should clean up the kitchen and Annie's mother-in-law came into the room and not only heard them fighting, but also saw Annie's messy kitchen. Annie, who prides herself on being a proper hostess and a good housewife, was mortified. 

9. Biggest secret?

Annie's biggest secret is that, occasionally, with Una and Mae, she enjoys a glass of whisky. The three of them would sometimes drink a glass after walking back from the factory together on cold, winter nights. It's the most rebellious thing that Annie has ever done, but when she tries to drink a glass by herself, it just isn't the same. 

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

So, there's a small look into Annie! I'm looking forward to writing her. I think she'll be an entertaining character. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Bibliophile Sweater Tag

On the blog today, I am stealing a tag created by Sunshine and Scribblings (I say steal because I don't think anyone has tagged me, but I thought it looked like fun because I love sweaters. And books, of course :P). I'm disregarding the rules (because Maryliz said they're more like guidelines anyway!), but if anyone would like to do the tag themselves, here is link to the original post.

Fuzzy sweater (a book that is the epitome of comfort)

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall are definitely the epitome of comfort for me. They're full of kids adventuring, dogs, family, music, books... Basically, the recipe for making Abbey happy.

Striped sweater (book which you devoured every line of)

I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte in a high school literature class and could NOT put it down for some reason. Maybe it had to do with the setting—a secluded English moor with only two houses. Or, the characters—two families falling in love with and marrying the wrong people. Or, the genre—my first Gothic novel! 

Ugly Christmas sweater (book with a weird cover)

This is a book called Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful. Yes, that is Alfred Hitchcock's face built into the house.

Cashmere sweater (most expensive book you've bought)

I had to buy The Norton Anthology of English Literature for my British Literature class. Twice! The first time, we bought them used and when they came, one volume was missing! School (and classes) had already started by this time, so I had to re-buy them from the campus store. $75 later...

Hoodie (favorite classic book)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been my favorite classic (and book) since I read it eight years ago! Kids adventuring, family, important issues, Atticus Finch... what's not to love?

Cardigan (book that you bought on impulse)
This is not the actual cover, but since my physical copy is at my dorm, I figured I'd make my own interpretation of the book. 

Once upon a time last semester, I was feeling sad and stressed, and my friends brought me to Half Price Books, and I had a coupon, and they had an illustrated edition of one of my favorite books, The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It was so beautiful. I was weak. Disclaimer: buying books is not a healthy way to work through your feelings (but that doesn't mean I'm unhappy about my purchase). 

Turtleneck sweater (book from your childhood)

Thomas the Tank Engine by Reverend W. Awdry was four-year-old Abbey's life. She read the books, watched the TV-show, and even got Thomas, Percy, and some track for her birthday. Here is a video of her singing the theme song:

Homemade knitted sweater (book that is Indie-published)

My friend and fellow-blogger DJ Edwardson recently published his first fantasy book, The Last Motley! I haven't read the finished product yet, but the version I beta-read was pretty great, so the finished version must be fantastic. Go check it out! It's about a boy with motley skin and a strange power, and the kind tailor who wants to save him. It's about family (I'm sensing a theme with the books I like) and magic.

V-neck sweater (book that did not meet your expectations)

Unfortunately, Odd and the Frost Giants—and everything else I've read by Neil Gaiman—has fell short of my expectations. This particular book is a retelling of Norse mythology (complete with Loki), but it wasn't... enough for me. All of the Gaiman books that I've read have really unique ideas behind them, but the ideas don't translate to the page in a way that captures my imagination like they are supposed to. 

Argyle sweater (book with a unique format)

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst is, well, VERY unique and has multiple layers. The first layer is the story, The Ship of Theseus. The second layer is two characters who have read The Ship of Theseus and write each other notes in the margins. They are trying to discover who the mysterious author is, and where he has gone. They compile clues (such as the napkin in the picture above) and piece together the mystery. The third layer is the reader, because they have to read the story (the book), and the comments in the margins (in several different colors, marking different stages of the investigation), and the extra bits (like the napkin or maps or postcards. This book has a lot of pieces that fall out if you're not careful!). This is such a fascinating concept for a book, but it's too daunting for me to read, especially since there are several different ways you could read it! Someday I'll take on the challenge. 

Polka dot sweater (a book with well-rounded characters)

I have never read a book/series with better characters than The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. At the time that I'm writing this post, I'm in the middle of re-reading the series so that I can review it on the blog. I'll talk more about the characters then, but now I'll say that the characters in this series are real people with real problems, hopes, fears, pasts, loves, hates, and personalities. They aren't caricatures or archetypes. They mature and grow throughout the books and it's astonishing to watch. As a writer, I can only hope that I can create characters this real in my own stories! 

Do you like sweaters? How about books? Consider yourself tagged, if you like! 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Long and Winding Editing Road—Condensing

Here's the deal, friends: I know what has to happen during the next draft of my novel, but I don't want to do it. This past semester burned me out emotionally and creatively. It's been nice to blog because I don't have to put as much effort into a blog post as an essay or a piece of fiction. But, my book has been bouncing around in the back of my head. It's been more of a "hey, hey you, hey, you should work on your novel" than an "Oh, boy! I can't wait to work on my novel!" but I'm hoping that talking to you guys about my next step will make me excited to start writing again. 

What is my next step? 
CONDENSING! Right now, this story is over 147,000 words, which is way too long. Before I start hacking my manuscript to pieces with the backspace key, however, I need to outline once again (this book has more outlines than drafts!). I started to outline before last semester got crazy, and condensed the first twenty chapters into fourteen. If I can do the same to the remaining forty chapters, that should cut out a significant amount of unneeded verbiage. 

In addition to condensing my story, Draft Five is going to be the last draft that I edit for major content concerns. After that, I am going to pay more attention to sentence fluency, diction, inconsistencies, and grammatical errors. I'm hopeful that by creating a streamlined outline, my plot and characters will be better developed because I'll have to be efficient with how I use my words. 

My plan is still to self-publish this book at the end of the summer, but if next semester is as harrowing as the last, I may have to push the release date back.

...Well, look at that! Writing this tiny post has boosted by motivation. Talking about outlining has made me excited to outline. I do love a good outline (maybe someday I'll show you the three-page monstrosity I wrote to accompany a 1,300 word essay). I'm even a bit excited to go after my story with the backspace key (don't you worry! I have all previous drafts of this book saved). 
I want to have Draft Five finished by the end of the school year. My semester should be less hectic than the last one, so I have hope that if I'm dedicated to making time to edit, it will get done! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


2017 was filled with friends, parents, road tripping, reading, family reunions, canoeing, hiking, cashiering, Silmarillion Awards, and school school SCHOOL (I'm sorry, I just watched Eloise at Christmastime, so I am saying things three times like Nanny). 2017 was full, and fun, and hard, and I feel like I've learned so much more about what being an adult means.

These were my goals for the year:

-Give my blog a makeover, including changing the name to "Regarding Reading, Writing, and Sometimes Life." Additionally, post at least once a month, if not more. 
CHECK! I changed the name of my blog, changed my header, AND posted at least twice every month except for February, when I mysteriously disappeared due to homework. I'd call that a success.

-Eat less sugar and exercise more.
Check...? I didn't do that well with the less sugar thing, but I did increase my exercise (though that may have been due to the walking class I took *cough cough*). 
-Read thirty-five books.
CHECK! I read forty-five books this year (despite what my Goodreads challenge says). I read two series: Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I also took four literature classes, so I read a lot of British poetry, several books based off of Shakespeare's plays (for Modern Shakespearean Fiction), selections in Russian literature, and five Shakespeare plays. Left to my own devices, I read a lot of YA and middle grade, several nonfiction, and a classic or two (like Jane Eyre and Peter Pan). I'm most proud, however, of reading the entire Bible for the first time in my life. 
-Continue to do well in school. 
-Find a home church in Minnesota and continue growing in my relationship with God. 
CHECK! Nearly every week this school year, I went to church with one of my friends. When she was gone, I even asked for a ride from someone else in the church (yes, my poor, introverted soul asked a near stranger for a ride)! The final week of school, I went with another friend to the start-up church that meets in one of our campus buildings. I really liked that church, and I want to try it again in the New Year. While I know more about God, I'm not sure my relationship with him has grown all that much... there are always periods of growth when I consistently read my Bible and pray several times a week, but I've fallen out of that habit over the past two months or so. 
-Finish my fantasy novel.
 Check...? I've given this a hesitant check mark for a reason... but I'll save that for my next post ;)

2018 Goals:

1. Eat no candy or baked goods in January (and if I survive January, then do the same in February, and so on through the year).

2. Walk 90 minutes every week.

3. Post at least twice a month on Regarding Reading and Writing (and Sometimes Life).

4. Read 50 books.

5. Publish my Fantasy Novel.

6. Continue doing as well in school as I have been.

7. Continue going to church every week and get into the habit of reading my Bible and praying (if not every day, then at least four or five times a week).

8. Grow myself. Take more risks. Become better at confrontation. Become better at expressing my wants, needs, fears, and frustrations. Become better at setting up boundaries so that I can take care of my mental health.

What was the most memorable thing you did in 2017? What are your goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Knows not where [s]he's going to...

I'm not cut out to be an editor.

My plan was to go to school, gain an English degree, become an editor to pay the bills, and write my own novels on the side.

And then I took Editing and Proofreading.

The class itself was great. I learned a lot, including that I don't want to be an editor anymore.
Before I continue, let me explain the different types of editors that we learned about:

These are the different types of editors that will work on books, but there are also editors who work on technical manuals, websites, and anything else you can think of with words that people will read. All of these editors have something in common, however: they work with style guides.
A style guide is used by publishing houses and other companies to make sure that everything they publish has internal grammatical consistency. In class, for example, we proofread an already-published book from Bethany House Publishers (BHP). BHP has their own style guide which dictates whether three dots in an ellipses is correct or if four dots are needed, whether or not orange-red needs a hyphen, and other nitpicky details.

THIS is why I don't want to be an editor anymore. They say the devil is in the details, and they (whomever they may be) are right. I consider myself detail-oriented, focused, and patient, but I simply don't like making sure that every comma is compliant with each other and with a publishing house's style guide.
I do not enjoy paging—or, in the case of modern technology, clicking—through a style guide to find out whether or not the publishing house wants to capitalize "He" when referring to God.
Although I enjoyed having the power to change organization, sentence structure, and even paragraph organization during our substantive and copy editing projects, I did not enjoy having to decide if strange sentence construction was distracting or if it was simply the author's voice.
I don't like how impersonal it is. Sometimes, an editor never talks directly with the author. If the editor does talk with the author, he or she is supposed to be polite but anything more is not encouraged. I understand that... after all, editing is, in a way, a business transaction. Like any business transaction, it should be polite and detached. But if I love an author's work, I want to tell them that. I want to become their friend and learn what was in their head when they thought of a particular scene or character. I want to tell everyone how much I loved their work. I want to work with them again. More often than not, however, editors and authors don't stick together, especially if the editor is freelancing (a.k.a. not working with a publishing house or company).

So, I'm not cut out to be an editor. As the song says, I "know not where [I'm] going to." If I'm not to be an editor, what am I to do? I asked a very similar question three-and-a-half years ago when I discovered that I was not cut out to be a full time, wage-earning youth/worship leader. It took me over a year to process that discovery, but at the end of that year plus, I decided to go to school to get an English degree. I'm not regretting that decision in the slightest, as I love love LOVE my department and what I'm studying.
But, I also don't know what I want to do with my degree once I graduate, especially since I've added a history minor and what in the world does one do with an English/History/Bible degree in this day and age?? Become a professor, I suppose. I don't know if that's what I want to do, but it's an option that I need to think and pray about.

I don't graduate for two-and-a-half years, so I have lots of time to think and pray.

What about you? What do you want to be when you grow up (even if you are already grown up, you can still answer!)? Have you ever had your plans derailed? How did you set the train back on the tracks again? Leave me a comment and let me know; I'd love to hear from you!