Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fantasy Books I've Been Inspired to Read

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beautiful People: July 2017 // Writing Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!