Saturday, October 6, 2018

Indulging my Two Secret Passions: Tintin and Opera

In the Tintin books by HergĂ©, the opera singer Castafiore always sings "The Jewel Song" from Faust by Charles Gounod. If fact, she never sings anything but "The Jewel Song" from Faust. In the Tintin movie, however, Castafiore does not sing her signature song; rather, she sings something from Romeo et Juliette, which is another opera by Gounod. Seven years later, I still wonder why the movie makers decided to change her quintessential song from one opera by Gounod to another. Was it laziness? Did it have to do with copyright? Did they not do their research? Could their soprano not hit the notes (doubtful, since the song from Romeo et Juliette is the higher of the two songs)?

This image does not belong to me, so don't come for me, Image Police.
I have no answers, BUT I do have a new question. Today, I was listening to a Maria Callas CD, and "Una voce poca fa" from The Barber of Seville came on. I recognized the beginning melody as the song to which Castafiore makes her entrance in the Tintin movie. In the movie, after the first thirty seconds of "Una voce poca fa," the song switches to "Je veux vivre dans ce reve" from Romeo et Juliette, and Castafiore begins to sing.
It's one thing to mix up two songs by the same composer, but The Barber of Seville isn't even BY Gounod! It's by Rossini. Furthermore, it's in an entirely different language. Why in the world would the people in charge of the music for The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn splice together two songs from two different composers who wrote in two different languages and lived about thirty years apart? Why in the world didn't they have Castafiore sing "The Jewel Song" like she was supposed to? Will I ever have answers??

Check out the scene for yourself:

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

And the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril Goes To...

An audience mills about in a field. They talk in low murmurs, as only confused and slightly annoyed people do. Everyone wears black tie attire and some hold glasses of champagne. Fifteen minutes ago, the audience sat inside a luxurious ballroom, watching the award for Least Competent Henchmen be presented, but they had been herded outside because of the fire alarm. Since there was no smoke or flames, they assumed some mischievous imp had pulled the alarm, though why anyone would do something so rude during an awards ceremony was beyond even the smartest attendee.

Suddenly, a bang! and everyone turns their heads. A firework explodes above the audience. Several more fireworks fly into the sky; miraculously, they spelled out several words: NOMINEES FOR THE MOST MISCHIEVOUS IMP SILMARIL.
Five more fireworks spell out the names of the nominees:

As the smoke clears, the audience claps and whistles. This was well worth standing outside for fifteen minutes. The applause slows and a small figure appears out of the smoke.
"Now that is how to make an entrance!" he says, waggling his curly head. "Don't you think, Merry?"
"Well done, Pip." A second short man appears at the first's side.
"The envelope please, Merry," says Pippin Took.
Merry hands his cousin the envelope with the winner's name in it. Pippin opens it, glances at the name, gives Merry a side glance and a wink, and turns to the audience.

"And the winner is... Peter Pan and his Lost Boys!!"
The audience explodes like a firework.
"The Silmaril please, Merry." Pippin takes it from Merry. Peter Pan flies up into the air from his seat and does a twirl. He walks on the air, preening and smiling, and Tootles, Nibs, Slightly, Curly, and the Twins walk in a line underneath their fearless leader until all of them stand in a line before Pippin. Peter holds out his hand to accept his Silmaril, but it is no longer in Pippin's hand!
"I just had it..." Pippin says. He pats his pockets and searches the ground.
"Fool of a Took..." mumbles a gray wizard in the audience. He draws his bushy eyebrows together as he turns around and storms back toward the theater.
"What do you mean by this? We are supposed to get an award," says Peter indignantly. He crosses his arms over his chest and his Lost Boys copy him.
"Let me see... let me see..." says Pippin. "Ah, there it is! What's it doing behind your ear?" Pippin pulls the Silmaril from behind Peter's ear. The Silmaril hangs on a piece of fabric, so Pippin drapes it around Peter's neck.

"Thank you very much," Peter says. "Thank you. I'd like to thank my Lost Boys. They are the most loyal friends I could ever ask for. We shall have lots of adventures and continue being imps the rest of our lives! But I'll be sure to take better care of this Silmaril than Pippin here." Everyone laughs.
The crowd parts to let Peter Pan and Pippin follow the gray wizard back to the theater. Everyone else files back into the building after them. Just as the last guest enters the theater, it begins to rain, and the last of the smoke clears.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Productivity: Healthy Habits

I'm a busy college student, so I wanted to share some productivity tricks that I've learned that have helped me a lot. I can't say that I follow these tricks all of the time, but when I do, I feel healthier, happier, and less stressed because I know that there is time in the day to get everything done. These are some healthy habits that I'm cultivating:

1. Get up at the same time every morning.
Over the summer, I had a job working Facilities at my school, and I had to give up at 5:30 every morning to get to work at 6:00. After a few weeks, my body got used to getting up at the same time every day, and I knew that I wanted to continue that into the school year. I'm not still getting up at 5:30, because that's ludicrous, but I am getting up at 7:00 most mornings. When I get up earlier, I tend to get more done in the day because I'm awake earlier and don't feel groggy from sleeping in.

2. Go to bed early.
I need eight hours of sleep in order to be a functioning member of society. It helps me to focus better in classes and while doing homework, it makes me happier, and it makes getting up in the morning a whole lot easier. Also, sleep is amazing, so, if you can, make sure you are getting enough sleep for what you need to get done in the day.

3. Eat good food.
I am on the over-21 meal plan, which is only $235 a semester, so I do a lot of cooking for myself. In the past, I have not been great at this. My roommate and I always reach a point in the semester where we give up and just get fast food several times a week. This is not only unhealthy, but it is also expensive, so I have vowed to myself to cook more this semester, and, so far, it has been working well. This is better for my body and my bank account and is definitely a healthy habit that every busy person should develop.

4. Take breaks.
I take a lot of breaks. Mostly, it's between assignments. Sometimes, it's in the middle of assignments. My breaks are never long; I keep them to 5-15 minutes. Usually, I'll do something productive during these breaks. I'll clean something or make myself food or wash dishes. It's a brain break for me, but it gets chores done, too!

Do you do any of these things? Are you going to try any of these things? Tell me about healthy habits that you have!

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Silmaril Awards 2018: Voting

Thanks for all of your voting and seconding last week! There were 33 nominations! Five imps, however, were more mischievous than the rest... Here they are, the top five nominees for the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril:

1. Peter Pan and his Lost Boys from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (15 nominations).
Peter Pan is happy-go-lucky and it often seems as though he cares for no one but himself, but it is only because he has no mother to set him right. He refuses to grow up and, instead, leads his Lost Boys from adventure to adventure. From losing his shadow, to flying around Neveland, to facing crocodiles and pirates, Peter and his gang get themselves into no end of trouble. Tootles, though clumsy, is caring; Nibs is the bravest; Slightly is no good at make believe, but he's wonderful at exaggeration; Curly frequently gets himself into pickles; and the Twins are simply the Twins.

2. Crispin Beasley from Beaumont and Beasley by our very own Silmaril Award host Kyle Robert Shulz (12 nominations).
Many have questioned why Crispin—early twenties, boyish good looks, cheerful demeanor—of all people, was gifted with exceptionally strong magical powers. Those who know him best would describe him as flighty, easily distracted, and far too quick to laugh during moments of danger. He’s not really someone you’d want casting spells anywhere near you. However, in the darkest times, Crispin has been known to show surprising maturity and resourcefulness. Prophecies, paradoxes, and peril loom over him, but he remains steadfast, a dependable ally and friend even when all seems lost.

3. Tink/Kalmar from The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson (9 nominations).
Tink Igiby (whose given name is Kalmar) is an adventurous lad with a nose for danger and trouble. Not the best of qualities, but he’s never one to back down from a challenge, a mystery, or even a ghost. Such a tendency has gotten him into hard spots and has helped him escape them, too. That, and his ability to run like the wind. An excellent artist, Tink’s foremost interest in life is filling his never-satisfied stomach (though if you ask his older brother Janner, it's to cause trouble and ignore level-minded directions).

4. Toad from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (9 nominations).
While a decent animal at heart, this posh toad is far too fond of leaping into wild adventures and regaling people about them afterward--with a healthy dose of embellishment, of course. His greatest passion is for driving motorcars, even in cases when he is not the vehicle’s rightful owner. He tries to be gentlemanly and dignified, but he is a little too ridiculous and clumsy for that. Though he consistently ignores the advice of his patient and concerned friends, he is loyal to them, and does his best to overcome his selfishness for their sakes. 

5. and Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (9 nominations).
To find out more about Tigger, watch this short video:

Vote for your favorite here (or, if you've already voted on someone else's blog, comment below and tell me who you want to win!):

powered by Typeform

Voting ends on Friday, but come back soon to find out the winner of the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Giving Myself a Medal

It's Silmaril Award season, which means that your favorite fantasy characters are in the running to win a Silmaril (see my last post for more details), but I figured I deserve an award, too. I survived the longest week of my life, so I am giving myself a trophy.

I have class from 9-2 and work from 2-4ish on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I have class from 8-12:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since I am taking mostly upper level classes, almost all of my free time is reserved for homework, but this past week, I had several meetings to attend in the afternoons. In addition to all of this, I popped in and out of the Silmaril Awards all week. There were so many indie-published characters nominated! Woohoo! Tomorrow, voting begins and lasts all week, so make sure to come back.

Somehow, I managed to survive The Busiest Week Ever with my sanity and well-being in tact. I've wanted to do a blog post on productivity for a few months now, and after this week, I thought why not make it a series? Here are the topics I'm going to talk about:

1. Healthy Habits
2. Scheduling/Organization
3. Time Management/Discipline

I'm hoping to post every weekend until the end of the month, so look forward to that! Maybe the things I have learned will help you, too, whether you are in college or not.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow to vote for your favorite fantasy characters!

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Silmaril Awards 2018


Welcome back to the Silmaril Awards!!! 
As you can see, we have a name change this year, but we are the same in our third year as we were in our first year. And just what is the Silmaril Awards? It is a celebration of J.R.R. Tolkien and fantasy. It's sort of like the Oscars except held online, and the awards are to be won by a fantasy character and not by an actor!

I'm hosting Most Mischievous Imp, so look out for shenanigans!

Here are the rules:
  • All nominees must be from a fantasy book (movie characters, 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.
  • Only nominate Mischievous Imps on this post. Heroes, villains, etc. can be nominated on their own respective posts (a list to the other blogs is available at the end of this post).
  • 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 winners (the Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter), cannot be nominated either.
  • Authors may not nominate their own characters.
Nominations are open from now until the 7th. Voting on the top five nominated Imps begins on the 10th and ends on the 14th, and the award ceremony takes place from the 17th-28th.

Make sure to nominate characters for the other nine Silmarils!
Deborah O'Carroll is hosting Wisest Councillor
Jenelle Schmidt is hosting Least Competent Henchman
DJ Edwardson is hosting Silver Tongue
E.E. Rawls is hosting Most Epic Hero
Zac Totah is hosting Strangest Character
Madeline J. Rose is hosting Most Epic Heroine
Tracey Dyck is hosting Most Magnificent Dragon
Savannah Grace is hosting Most Loyal Friend
and Kyle Robert Schulz is hosting Most Nefarious Villain! 

Here is an info-graphic to keep everything straight:

And make sure to check out our snazzy new website, created by the very talented DJ Edwardson.

Let the nominations begin!


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Worth of a King: Interview with the Author

Kendra E. Ardnek has released a new book! 

Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.
Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.
Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.
The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

“Well, it’d still be more fun,” Nadilynn pouted. “As it is – how long have we been cooped up in here already? How much longer will it be before we reach the first village?”
Delaney sighed. “We should be there soon,” he answered. “And we’ll spend the night there before we leave for the second village in the morning.”
“You didn’t have to come with us if you didn’t want to, Nadi,” Obsidia pointed out. “We’re just visiting twelve villages and collecting a girl from each one. Hardly exciting.”
“Oh, but I really had no choice in the matter,” Nadilynn countered, shaking her head. “Tradition demands that Obsidia has a proper female companion. If I hadn’t volunteered, your mother would have had to come instead, and since she is still convinced that you marrying Del is the worst idea ever, I don’t know that the three of you could have survived this whole excursion. I’m sure that you both much prefer me.”
“Ah yes, you’re quite correct,” said Delaney. “With you, we only need to survive endless meaningless chatter, not murderous glares.”
“My conversation isn’t meaningless!” Nadilynn protested. “At least I don’t spend three hours discussing the nuances of a law about chickens, or four about whether some king’s death was natural or due to poison.”
“No,” said Obsidia, dryly. “You spend five hours talking about how sashes are so in style.”
“They are so not!” Nadilynn exclaimed. Then she lowered her voice “Not thick ones, anyway. Ribbons used as sashes are acceptable, belts, especially beaded belts, are best…”
“And there we go,” Delaney groaned. “You did have to get her started.”
Obsidia just shrugged and mouthed a “sorry.”

If you enjoyed that, read the opening chapter here:
Add the book on Goodreads:

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kendra about The Worth of a King, so please enjoy (and watch out for dragons):

1. What first gave you and Jack the idea to write this book?
A blog post that she wrote, talking about how she couldn't write female character. See, at the time, I wasn't great with male characters, so I commented saying as much, along with the joking aside that we should write a book together - an idea which she LOVED. We then began a rapid-fire email back and forth as we hashed out the plot for the book - and it turned out that we almost initially had a very similar vision for it. We didn't want any chance of romance between our characters, both had a twin obsession (at the time), and both agreed that we needed to start the book with our characters in different places, so a pair of twins that had been separated at birth was the obvious choice. 

2. Did the book change when you took over as a single author? How so?
It did, but not a huge lot. I, of course, immediately rewrote all of her chapters (as well as my own) to put them into my voice, but there were really only two or three chapters that had significant changes - and that was because there were continuity issues with them. Delaney did become a POV character after I became the solo author, and I did insert Amber and Granite and make the book backstory for Rizkaland. 

3. Can you introduce us to some of the major characters and tell us which one is your favorite and which one was the easiest to write?
Let's see, there were the three POV characters - Obsidia, Adrian, and Delaney. Obsidia was my character from the start, and she's a quiet thing who just wanted a nice, safe life; then there was Adrian, who had been Jack's character, and, like his sister, just wanted a nice, safe life; and Delaney ... Del was just fun to write 'cause he's so different from the twins, so driven to protect the people he cares about...
But my favorite character to write was Del's little sister, Nadilynn, who was the brightest ray of sunshine to ever waltz onto the page - but who uses that optimism and cheerfulness to cover a lot of pain and frustration. Like, she tried very hard to get me to make her a POV. VERY hard. And I certainly plan to be writing some follow-up for her on my Ardnek Afterthoughts blog. 

4. Does this book have any connection to your previous books?
Well, I just said that I made it backstory to Rizkaland, so ... yes. 

5. Can you tell us about one of the scenes that you had the most fun writing?
I'm going to go with next-to-last chapter of part one, where everything is falling apart - and it was actually the last chapter I wrote before Jack dropped out. 

6. Do you agree that there should be a dragon in every book? Is there a dragon in your book? 
No, I just had my cover designer put one on the cover for #asthetic.

7. Did you learn anything through writing this book that you didn't know before?
Well, somewhere along the way I figured out how to write guys!

8. What's next on your authoress plate?

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

Definitely check out Kendra's blog and her other books. They are well worth a read.
And if you'd like to check out the other stops on Kendra's blog tour, follow this link.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Some Thoughts on Lost in Space

Here's a fun fact: one of my close friends is also named Abby (though she spells her name without an E, so does it actually count? XD), and we are the exact same age and in the exact same major. We decided to watch Netflix's Lost in Space series together, and let me tell you... when two storytellers who have taken classes in literature and writing for two years watch a show together, boy, do they have opinions.

*These opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other Abb(i)(e)(y)'s in the world.
**I try to stay as spoiler-free as possible, but some may still sneak in.

Here another fun fact: sci-fi is my favorite genre to watch, so I had high hopes for Lost in Space. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations, and here's why:

Humans have been leaving earth to settle on Alpha Centauri, a far away planet. The Robinson family is en route to their new home when their ship is attacked and they crash on a habitable planet. Will Robinson, a young boy, makes friends with a robot on the planet's surface, but the robot is the least of the family's problems as they explore their new home, try to make contact with other survivors, and meet Dr. Smith, who is not all that she seems.

I have never felt so stressed out watching a TV show before. In fact, I liken the stress of watching Lost in Space to the stress that I felt a few days ago when making a rough plan of what classes I will take during the next two years of college; however, my stress dissipated when the tension became predictable. The plot of Lost in Space is basically Murphy's Law: everything that can go wrong goes wrong (many times because of misuse of common sense). I got tired of bad things happening to the characters all. the. time. Sure, torture your darlings, but give them a break, too! Predictable tension and lack of meaningful, character development time (like the scene in Tangled when Rapunzel heals Flynn's hand while they sit by the fire) made me frustrated and a little bored. The only thing that kept me going was my hatred of Dr. Smith and curiosity at what monstrously foul thing she would do next (but more on her later).

Another thing that I didn't think worked well was the use of flashbacks. They were used inconsistently throughout the ten episodes and seemed more like a convenient way to explain backstory than a meaningful explanation of where the characters came from. Backstory is better revealed in small chunks along the way, rather than, as Abby-without-an-E said, "chucked at you like candy at a parade." The flashbacks in Lost in Space are along the lines of... "bam bam. Have some overwhelming candy," much like when Marshawn Lynch chucked Skittles to Seahawks fans after winning the Superbowl.

Kiro7, don't come for me, please. This image does not belong to me.

The flashbacks would have worked better if they had been in every episode, had been more linear, and hadn't been a plot device only.

You may have noticed that I used the word "meaningful" in correlation with characters twice while talking about plot. That's because I felt like the characters weren't meaningful, which meant that I didn't really care for them.

By meaningful, I mean the writers didn't take the opportunity to develop them through those quiet moments. They didn't show the characters caring for one another after a traumatic event or grieving for a dead team member. (Mild spoiler incoming!) For example, Judy is a doctor, and she looses her first patient in one of the episodes. Rather than experiencing a lack of confidence (or even being shooketh!), Judy is fine and continues as if nothing happened. This would have been a great time to develop her character. (End spoiler.)

By the second episode, I felt a little betrayed by the Robinson family. They had been set up one way in the first episode but seemed to change roles by the second episode. I thought that Judy was going to be the wild, trouble child and Penny was going to be the calm, sensible one, but it turned out that their roles were reversed.
Additionally, characteristics that had been set up in episode one weren't present after they served their purpose. In the first episode, Will froze up (no pun intended) several times when he had to make snap decisions, but he didn't have an obvious problem with that later in the show.

And then there's Don... He was probably my favorite character because he was funny and because he has a chicken named Debbie, but he is also the hugest caricature that I've ever come across. Also, Debbie disappears during the middle of the show, and I was afraid they'd eaten her! Don is a rogue-ish smuggler with a heart of gold and a tragic backstory. He is a Han Solo or a Carswell Thorne but with nothing to make him unique (except his magically disappearing chicken).

Full credit to dsp_eights. You, sir, are a genius.

Now I have to talk about Dr. Smith. First of all, she is despicable, and I hate her. I haven't despised a villain this much since reading Harry Potter (Umbridge, I'm looking at you!). If this were a fantasy book rather than a sci-fi TV show, I would nominate Dr. Smith for Most Nefarious Villain in the Silmaril Awards (coming September 3rd!). Second of all, she makes NO SENSE. She has no motive for the terrible (and sometimes nice?) things that she does. A flashback tried to explain her backstory, but it still didn't explain why she does the things she does. If I remember correctly, there is a scene where she tells Maureen how she was the least-loved child, but it was told in such an info-dumped way (and Dr. Smith is such a liar) that I didn't know whether to believe her. Either way, it is too flimsy a motivation to make her do such horrible things. Honestly, I think she is insane. What else explains her unpredictable nature and lack of common sense? Many times, her goals and the Robinson's goals were the same, but Dr. Smith's interference in plans that would ACHIEVE THE SAME GOAL caused the Robinson's pain and hurt. Grrrrr... She aggravates me. Abby-without-an-E is invested in the show's second season only because she wants to see Dr. Smith sucked out an airlock.

I really liked the robot. He was all around interesting, and I wished that they would have focused on him, his species, and their technology more than on Dr. Smith's evil scheming. I also thought that the planet that they crash landed on and its creatures was super cool.

Lost in Space featured too much suspense at the expense of character development for my taste, but it is an interesting show and prompted much discussion between Abby and I.

Have you seen Lost in Space? Why did you like/dislike it? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lovely Quotes from a Lovely Book

I know, I know, I said my review of Lost in Space would be my next blog post... Never fear: it IS coming! But I finished the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society today, and I had to share a few quotes with you all because it is such a lovely read.

From Instagram
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society takes place shortly after World War II when the main character, author Juliet Ashton, is searching for her next book idea. Instead, she finds a new group of friends among the Guernsey islanders.
This book is full of history, book love, and general coziness. The characters captivated me and so did the form of the book—it's written entirely in letters! Sometimes, the character's voices blurred together, and some of their actions seemed too modern for a book set in 1946, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story. Plus, the author's prose is snarky and lovely and fun to read. I marked several passages that I wanted to share with you:

"I don't want to be married just to be married. I can't think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can't talk to, or worse, someone I can't be silent with." (Page 8)

"I have gone to them for years, always finding the one book I wanted—and then three more I hadn't known I wanted." (Page 11)

"All the windows we passed were lighted, and I could snoop once more. I missed it so terribly during the war: I felt as if we had all turned into moles scuttling along in our separate tunnels. I don't consider myself a real peeper—they go in for bedrooms, but it's families in sitting rooms or kitchens that thrill me. I can imagine their entire lives from a glimpse of bookshelves, or desks, or lit candles, or bright sofa cushions." (Page 13-14)

"Do you live by the river? I hope so, because people who live near running water are much nicer than people who don't." (Page 117)

"I've shoved a writing table by the biggest window in my sitting room. The only flaw in this arrangement is the constant temptation to go outside and walk over to the cliff's edge. The sea and the clouds don't stay the same for five minutes running and I'm scared I'll miss something if I stay inside. When I got up this morning, the sea was full of sun pennies—and now it all seems to be covered in lemon scrim. Writers ought to live far inland or next to the city dump, if they are ever to get any work done. Or perhaps they need to be stronger-minded than I am." (Page 165)

This book is the perfect summertime read. I read it in two days, and my friend read it in one! I would recommend this book to fans of Jane Austen, period dramas, BBC dramas, and the movie The Decoy Bride.

What's the latest book that you've devoured in just a few days?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Watching // Listening to // Reading // Writing

After watching for more than a year, I finally finished Friends. 

I started it last summer, I believe, but when school started, I stopped watching (we were on a break, okay??). It's not my favorite sitcom ever (that will forever and always be Frasier), but it was oh so much fun to see all the silly situations that Ross got himself in to.

On the subject of sitcoms, my roommate and I are nearing the end of The Office. It's been a fun Netflix Trip.

Some friends and I went to see Incredibles 2, which I thought was incredible (haha). Did you know the movies are set in the 1960s? I didn't notice the time period in the first movie, but it was evident in this one. It adds one more element to an already fantastic film.

This poster belongs to Disney Pixar
My friend and I just finished Netflix's Lost in Space. I have so many thoughts about this show that it will be its own separate post.

Last but not least, I watched the first episode of Babylon 5 last night. My dad and I are watching it "together." Even though we are 1,500 miles apart, we will watch an episode or three a week and then talk about it. My thoughts so far: it reminds me a lot of Deep Space Nine, but Star Trek has much better graphics (and better acting and writing, too, methinks, but I don't want to make a final judgement yet since I have only seen the first episode). I'm excited to keep watching!

I've been on a classical music kick over the past few weeks. I've been listening to a lot of Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky (Pictures at an Exhibition <3), Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Saens. Check out The Carnival of the Animals—it is so much fun! My favorite pieces are "Aquarium," "Pianists," and "Fossils."

I've also been listening to a lot of Twenty One Pilots. I'd never heard of them before coming to school, but they are now one of my favorite bands. They are coming out with a new album in October and have released three songs with music videos. I love Twenty One Pilots because they have created a whole world and story line within their music, and it is SO. COOL. because it is an extended metaphor for the singer's mental health. I can't embed their new music into my blog for some reason, so here is a link to their music video "Jumpsuit" (which I think is slightly more understandable than "Nico and the Niners," which is my favorite of their three new songs).

This summer, I have been making my way through the Minstrel's Song series by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt. I've been reading them on the Kindle app on my phone, usually in my fifteen minute morning breaks at work. I'm at my grandparent's house until school starts next week, however, so I am reading, reading, reading. I finished Yorien's Hand yesterday. Whooooaaaa. So epic! I am afraid for Oraeyn, Kamarie, Yole, Brant, and the gang, and my intrigue about Kiernan Kane continues to grow! I started Minstrel's Call this morning.

From Instagram
I am also reading a book of short stories by Willa Cather, which I am enjoying. The stories are about the disillusionment that creators sometimes feel. I am re-reading "The Garden Lodge" right now, which is about a practical woman who has a famous tenor to stay at her house. When he leaves, she has a breakdown as she remembers how her childhood was destroyed by over-sentimentality and how she refused to indulge in anything imaginative as a result. I didn't quite catch the meaning of the story the first time I read it; I understand it more the second time. The stories make me sad because the characters are misunderstood and purposeless artists, but it is a good kind of sadness because it reminds me that I do have a greater purpose when I am creative: I reflect God the creator.

From Instagram

I haven't been writing anything, but I do have several ideas floating around in my head... I am going to keep them in my head right now, especially since school is starting next week, and I definitely won't have time for personal projects then. I will tell you that one idea is sci-fi and one is fantasy and one is memoir(ish).
Also, there are exciting things happening on the blogging horizon...


So, what have you guys been watching/listening to/reading/writing? Are you excited for the Silmaril Awards? What do you think of the slightly modified name?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cover Reveal: Finding the Magic

My fellow blogger Jack Lewis Baillot is coming out with a new book soon, and I am participating in her cover reveal! 

Jack is an author, which is why she spends much of her time writing and little of her time editing. She likes to follow characters around and tell their stories even if they don't tell her everything they know about their stories.
She lives alone in a Hobbit hole and spends her spare time with her nose stuck in a book. When she isn't doing that she is busy baking bread and annoying her neighbors with bagpipes. 

The cover (of which I absolutely love the back):

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Belle is sent to the countryside to escape the London bombings of WWII. She knows she will miss her mother and worry about her father, who is away fighting in the war, but has no idea what awaits her in the manor in which she is to live. She finds friends in the staff but the mysterious and elusive master of the house frightens her. Can she teach him to find the magic in a world where magic seems to be long gone?

I read an unfinished version of this story a while ago, and I remember being delighted. If you are looking for a cozy read, check out this story when it comes out!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Brain Dump

Hello, and welcome back to my blog. I've been trying to write a "professional" blog post for the past week, but I haven't gotten anywhere, so here is a raw brain dump of what I've been thinking over the summer.

For those wondering, I did not finish Camp NaNoWriMo, but I did write 30,000 words (exactly) in July and figured out the direction in which to take Daniel and Varina, two of my oldest and most beloved characters. 
I was hoping that Camp NaNoWriMo would motivate me to be creative again, but August has come and I feel discouraged again. Since editing my fantasy novel (you know the one), I have been struggling with who my audience is. Since I started writing semi-seriously, my books have featured adult characters, but I have heard from multiple people that my writing style is more suited for middle grade readers. This makes sense as many of my favorite stories are middle grade novels. These books shaped who I am and made me want to be an author. I would love to inspire people like Sharon Creech, Erin Hunter, Eva Ibbotson, and Jeanne Birdsall inspired me.
That's hard, however, because, in college, I am learning to write literary fiction, which is alien to my natural style. It's good to learn, of course, but it also makes me question whether I am a good writer if I can't write literarily. 

I've never had an audience for my writing. When I was younger, I wrote because I enjoyed it. I liked exploring my imagination, but I've lost some of that whimsy since becoming an adult. If I am to be a full-time author, that means that I have to have an audience, but I don't. I don't have a specific age group that I write for, but I can't write just for fun anymore because I feel like I am wasting time... like I need to be doing something better. I guess writing isn't as fulfilling as it used to be, not to mention that college has sucked away my creativity and time, which makes it hard to do much of anything in what little free time I have.
Which brings me to blogging. I love blogging, and I love reading all of your blogs, but I am so brain dead from homework during the school year that it's so so so hard for me to keep up with a blogging schedule no matter how much planning I put into it. Maybe if I had more willpower, things would be different. I also feel like my posts have to be witty and happy and meet a certain standard of writing, but I don't always have interesting things to post about, or extra brainpower to make the words flow well, or even happiness to pour into a post.

I don't know where I am headed in life. Right now, I lack motivation, confidence, and passion, which makes it hard to do anything, especially if that something is creative. 
That being said, I will be participating in a few blog tours and also the Silmarillion Awards in the next month, so look out for those exciting things!
I don't know where this blog is heading in the future, but I wanted to say that I value everyone that I've meet through the blogging community. You all mean a lot to me, even though I don't always post or comment or keep up with you very well. 
Anyway, that's my brain dump. Maybe since I've gotten those thoughts out of the way, I can start to post more interesting things again. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

New Beginnings (Third Time's the Charm)

Hi, guys. We are three weeks into NaNoWriMo, and I started my novel over again.

Last time on Adventures with Abbey, I decided to focus on characters rather than plot and write from Varina's point-of-view. 
Something was still wrong, though. I started in medias res, which means in the middle of things, but this didn't give any context to my characters, their goals, or their motivations. I didn't feel any connection to Varina because I didn't have time to develop her before I threw her into a plane crashI felt even less connection to Daniel because I wasn't writing from his point-of-view. 
Even though I am trying to write a character driven story, I didn't feel like there was enough of a plot to support the characters. Daniel and Varina were on their way to a conference when their plane crashes. Varina decides to kidnap Daniel when she learns that he is the son of the man whom her father used to work for because she thinks that Daniel has information about her father's death.
By starting here in the storyline, I felt like I couldn't go anywhere. 

So I started over.


I rearranged the events of the story, such as the conference and the plane crash, so that the novel begins earlier in the storyline. This allows the audience to meet, and become comfortable with, Daniel and Varina before they are thrown into a dangerous situation. I also switched back to third person.
They say third time's the charm, and I can agree: this new beginning is going the smoothest of the three. I know my characters better, and I know where they are going in the plot. 

The moral of the story is that sometimes the pacing of your story is off. Sometimes you need to restart. Twice. Sometimes in medias res does not work and you have to start earlier in the timeline. And that's okay. 

Has this every happened to you guys? Have you ever had to start a project over and over and over again until you finally found the right beginning? Let me know! 

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Truth About my NaNoWriMo Novel

We are just over a week into Camp NaNoWriMo, and I am right on track. I have almost 15,000 words, but, the truth is, I don't like what I've written. I don't like my plot and I don't like my characters.

My original plot for this Camp NaNo centered on Varina: her father has been murdered and she wants to find out whodunnit. As she searches for clues, she meets Daniel, a wannabe pianist held back by controlling parents. I was scared about this because I have always written plot-driven novels, and this idea didn't seem like it could support 50,000 words of story unless it was a thriller, which I didn't want to write.

I decided to make the story character-driven and hoped that the plot would follow. But then I had an idea in the shower... and my novel changed into a plot-driven, magical realism complete with Bigfoots and an intricate plot. A week later, I am kicking myself for letting familiarity woo me away from trying something new. I'm also not sure I like the magical realism twist. Daniel and Varina's characters are meant to be in the real world, I think.

I did extensive character profiles on Daniel and Varina before I started to write, but they are not coming off like I had hoped. Daniel is needy and privileged, but he lacks the charisma that is supposed to draw Varina and readers (and me!) to him. Varina is supposed to be angry and logical, but she is not supposed to have a compassion deficiency! I don't like either of them, which means that you won't either. They don't like each other either, which is problem if they are to become best friends later.

I'm also not sure who is supposed to be telling this story. I started by alternating between Daniel and Varina's point-of-view, but something was off, so I tried doing first person from Daniel's perspective. I haven't written much in first person, so I quickly reverted to third person without realizing it. This was the second new thing I tried that didn't work because I didn't put in the effort of trying something new.
A wise woman once said, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" but I don't like any of those things, so I stay where it's familiar and safe. Several areas of my life are impacted by this, but my creativity suffers the most.
Which is why I've decided to start Camp NaNorWriMo over. I am ditching the magical Bigfoots and going back to my original idea. I am going to write in first person from Varina's point-of-view. I am also going to keep the 15,000 words that I've already written.

Oh, and guess what? My Camp NaNoWriMo novel does not have a title! I know, I know, you are all shocked, but perhaps you can understand that not every novel I write can have such a brilliant title as "Unnamed Fantasy Novel." That title took all of my creativity so that, four years later, I still can't come up with anything as clever.

Let's get a conversation started in the comments! Do you tend to write all of your stories in the same style? Do you think there is benefit to trying different styles? Am I insane for starting this story over again?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Going to Camp

"What makes good writing?"
"Does good writing have to be literary?"
"If I don't write literary fiction, does that mean I am not a good writer?"
"Should I even be a writer? Should I even keep trying?"

This is what I asked myself after taking a fiction writing class this past semester. I learned a lot of great things from this class, but I also lost my passion for storytelling as I questioned everything I thought I knew about writing. I didn't want to write. I didn't want to blog.
Weeks passed, and I started to think about maybe trying to blog about something—anything!
And then my friend texted me a crazy idea.
"Want to do Camp NaNoWriMo with me?"
"Okay," I texted back.

So, I am doing Camp. I've been thinking about reinventing some characters, and I decided that Camp NaNoWriMo would be as good a time as any. (For the unaware, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. There are "Camp" challenges in April and July.)

Some of you may remember Daniel and Varina from my previous blog. I wrote several (horrible, terrible) books about them from 2012-2014. They were spies working for a government agency, having adventures that would have fit well into a Get Smart episode. Daniel, Varina, and their cohorts have been my favorite characters since I created them, but I knew that if I was to go back into their world, I would need to change a lot of things to make them less (pardon the pun) campy.
So, instead of spies, Daniel is a pianist and Varina is a journalist. Instead of searching for Liberace's missing rhinestone, Varina is trying to discover who murdered her father and Daniel is along for the ride. Instead of waiting until the third book to introduce Varina's crazy-wonderful family, they are going to make their debut in this first book. Instead of actually having a semi-decent plot, I am going to make this story character driven and see what happens.

I realized (or, perhaps, re-realized) something as a result of the writing class I took this past semester: my creativity does not thrive when my imagination is limited. In my class, we learned how to write contemporary, literary fiction, which I can appreciate but do not enjoy (an explanation for another post?). I like to write what I like to write, and what I like to write is not literary and it is probably not publish-able either (another explanation for another post?). So, I am a writer, but maybe I am not an author. For Camp NaNoWriMo, I am going to write the story that I want/need to write to get my creativity back. I will see how it goes and report back.

Friday, April 13, 2018

In My Life #2

I've finally admitted to myself that I am a horrible blogger when I'm at school. I thought that I could do it all, and do it all well, but I just can't. I'm balancing classes, homework, a job, an internship, and a growing group of friends. I'm sad to say that blogging and all things creative have moved to the bottom of my priority list.
Just what have I been busy with? Let me tell you!


I've worked hard in my classes over the past two years, so you can imagine my excitement when I qualified for induction into Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honors society!
In addition to an English major, I added a History minor last spring... only, I've loved my time in the History Department so much that I decided to bump the minor up to a major. As of last week, I am a double major! Good thing I like to read so much...


Last year, my friend group was relatively small, but this year, I've developed deeper friendships with the girls in the English Department and made a few new friends in both the English and History Departments. We have a good time: late night drives to McDonalds... dressing up fancy for the Film Festival... going to see Ready Player One in theaters... hanging out in the dorm watching The Office... I am so grateful for the people I have in my life right now!


Over spring break, I went to Israel on a study trip! The picture above is taken from Mount Arbel, overlooking the Valley of Genneseret and the Sea of Galilee. It was an amazing trip. If you ever have a chance to go, don't hesitate: go. I want to do a full post on my trip eventually, but that might have to wait a month or so until I am on summer break.

And that is what has been taking up all of my time! Since I haven't posted in over a month, I figured that I should probably let you all know that I'm not dead, I'm just busy. I can't make any promises that I will be able to jump back into the blogging community any time soon, but I want you all to know that I care about you and miss you! Let me know what you've been doing in a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Minstrel's Call Cover Reveal

My friend and fellow blogger Jenelle Schmidt is releasing the final book in her Minstrel's Song series and I get to help reveal the cover today! Just take a look at the first three covers for this great series:

Gorgeous, eh? I'll just let those three covers sit with you for a little while until we get to the big reveal at the end of the post. ;)

Author Bio 
Jenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-Midwest. She now resides with her husband and their four adorable children in the wilds of Wisconsin. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family story-times when her father would read out loud to her and her siblings each night before bed. Her imagination was captured by authors such as Madeleine L’Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander. It wasn’t long before she began making up her own stories and sharing them with her family. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

Social Media Links:

Book blurb:

War threatens. The game board is set. But the Minstrel is missing...

Advancing his growing power, the Dread Prince breaks free of his prison and brings a faction of dragons under his control, stirring unrest and hatred in the newly united kingdoms of Tellurae Aquaous.

When the dragon wards of Kallayohm are targeted in a ruthless attack, the High King travels there to administer justice. But the trial results in a crippling blow that leaves him reeling.

On the heels of defeat, an unexpected message from the erstwhile Minstrel arrives, pleading with his friends for rescue. Together, the High King and his companions must follow the fragile trail, braving peril and darkness that will test the measure of them all...

And now... the cover! 

Isn't it GORGEOUS?! This series is so aesthetically pleasing. I think the cover for Minstrel's Call is my favorite one. Water and boats are two of my favorite things. 

Pre-Order Link:

The book comes out on February 28, so pre-order it now so that you can read it right away when it comes out!