Saturday, December 29, 2018

#AMCURRENTLY // december 2018


Welcome, friends, to a different kind of monthly wrap-up than usual! I got the idea of the format from Quill Pen Writer, the blog of the endlessly amazing Melissa (though I know the #AmCurrently hashtag is nothing new). In fact, I've had so much fun putting this post together that I'll proooobably be formatting all my monthly wrap-ups this way from now on.

And, just fyi, at the end of this post I have a VERY exciting announcement! So stay tuned. ;D
Christmas is a beautiful but hectic time of year, and I have to say that though I was excited for it when it started, I'm now relieved that it's ended. (That's usually how it goes, lol.) I got a bottle of perfume for one sister, a bookmark for the other sister, and a gift card to a dessert place for the brother. One magical thing about Christmas shopping, despite the stress of it, is that you can step into the mall having no clue what you're going to buy for family, then step out of it an hour and a half later thrilled over what you've found.

This month, I've been consumed by holiday church activities, last-minute school assignments before break, and lots of exciting email conversations. Oh, and I started driving, so that's fun! (for real, actually, I found it pretty fun.)

December was sort of up and down, as every month is, but it's truly been epic.

Memory of the month:  Watching It's a Wonderful Life while snow poured down outside the window, covering my world in a thick white quilt.
I recently finished book 3 of the Wingfeather Saga, The Monster in the Hollows, and I honestly think this might be the most emotional a book has ever made me. I didn't shed any tears, surprisingly, but you better believe my HEART was weeping. All I have to do is think for a single moment about a certain something (or two) that happened in the book and my heart shatters into a million pieces all over again.

Now I'm reading An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, which is kind of all right but NOWHERE NEAR as good as I was expecting it to be. After that - and I'm almost done, which is good because I need to finish just one more book to complete my 2018 Goodreads challenge! - I'm going to pick up A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Because I thrive on heartbreaking books, apparently.

Women's Black Zip Up Hooded Jacket
I've done some book 1 editing and book 2 plotting this month, but not a lot. In 2019 I'm going to hopefully be upping the editing game, though, and I'll also start first-drafting the sequel! *squeals forever and ever* If you've been around this blog for long enough, even my old blog, you know I've been waiting a LONG while for the right time to begin book 2. I started plotting, scrapped that and started plotting again, and did the same thing several times - with character sketches too. Now I've finally settled on what works for me!

I'm not quite done with the character sketches, but I'll try to finish the most important ones by the time I sit down to start writing. EEP.

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I wanted to finish plotting the book completely, but I just can't figure out the rest of the climax and the ending, no matter how hard I brainstorm. So I've decided to figure it out either as I write or when I get to the end of what I've already plotted.

Thus the pantser in me rears its head. XD


Other than Christmas music, December has been a month of Lauren Daigle's "Look Up Child" album and Matthew Parker's "Daydreamer." I almost guarantee you've at least heard of "Look Up Child" (who hasn't lol), but there's a good chance you haven't heard of Matthew Parker's new album. If you have, bonus points for you! Some of the songs sort of share the same sound, but they're wonderful anyway. "All I'm After" and "Paradise" are the BEST EVER.



"like an angel up above, i'll be with the One i love
just like a dream, don't cry for me"
paradise // matthew parker


"i can't stop thinking about, i can't stop thinking about,
i can't stop thinking about Your goodness"
remember // lauren daigle


"You're the only thing in the world that matters"
all i'm after // matthew parker


"i've searched the world to find my heart is Yours"
this girl // lauren daigle


Ice Cube Snowman With Headphones Ornament

Spiritually, I've been learning a lot about what it means to have that gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:3-4). I've been asking Him to soften my heart and strengthen my relationships, and He's been answering. I'm still so very flawed, of course, but the change I can see and feel happening reminds me that God does hear and He does answer.

Through that, I've also been learning the importance of praying for things consistently. Daily. Every time it pops into my head. God isn't annoyed by that; He WANTS us to be persistent in our prayer.

In a nutshell, December has been a beautiful month with Jesus. <3

~

My Blog Posts:

KNOW THE NOVEL - PART TWO // participating in a link-up one day too late

3 BOOKS GOD USED TO INSPIRE ME // that may inspire you!

TIPS FOR WRITING BITTERSWEET ENDINGS // at least... how i wrote one!

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS THINGS // songs, movies, & memories!


Favorite Blog Posts of the Month:
(of the blogs I follow XD)

3rd Place - WIP Special Part 5 || I harass my characters // Jem Jones @ Jem Jones, Writer

2nd Place - Loving Toxic People // Keturah Lamb @ Keturah's Korner

1st Place - a small dream // Olivia @ Important Nothings


~

And now for that announcement you've all been waiting for. I was going to wait until later, but after Tracey announced the same thing, I knew I couldn't keep quiet any longer.

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I'm getting a short story published on Havok in January! EEEEEEEEEP!!!

I'll have a post dedicated to that on the publication date to shout from the rooftops provide the link so you can read it. And you'll especially want to be on sharp look-out for that post because my story will only be free for ONE day. I'M SO EXCITED, YOU WOULDN'T BELIEVE.

So that's been a huge highlight of the month, for sure. XD


The Lord's Truly,

Well, that just about wraps up my December! And my year, come to think of it. How was your month? Have you read the Wingfeather Saga? Have you heard about Havok Publishing (you should definitely check it out 'cause it's the bessssst)? Scream with me about everything in the comments below! :D

Saturday, December 22, 2018

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS THINGS // songs, movies, & memories!



Everybody's screaming because there are only three days until Christmas, and honestly...

I'm screaming too.


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Obviously, I couldn't let Christmastime come and go without writing at least one Christmas-themed post, complete with holiday aesthetics and gifs. I'll simply be sharing four Christmas favorites from three different categories - songs, movies, and memories!



~SONGS~


First up is music. Christmas music is one of my absolute favorite parts of the holiday, and I could spend all day gushing about my favorite classic holiday tunes. <3 Fortunately for you, though, this list isn't comprehensive and focuses on songs that are more contemporary. Two are originals, and two are newer takes on beloved classics.


1. Peppermint Winter by Owl City



There seems to be a serious scarcity of truly funny Christmas songs. "Peppermint Winter" by Owl City combines hilarious with beautiful, and though I don't listen to it as much as a lot of other Christmas songs, I always have to smile when I do give it a listen. It's definitely a fave. <3

Some funny parts in "Peppermint Winter":

I twirl through the driveway with angelic grace
Till I slip on the sidewalk and fall on my face
~
I rip off the wrapping and tear through the box
Till I end up with 45 new pairs of socks


And now for the beautiful:

Hop in the sleigh, and we'll glide away
Into the night
And we'll sip on moonlight
~
And though this winter does nothing but storm,
The joy in my heart is a blaze, and it's keeping me warm



2. Kiss Me Babe, It's Christmastime by Owl City



I LOVE THIS SONG. Judging by the title alone, you may worry I'm gushing about something stupid, but I promise you this one's AMAZING. It's pretty much a personal Christmas tradition of mine to listen to it starting December 1st all the way until the 25th (though this year I keep forgetting to listen to it, how dare I??) It's a lovely holiday song, and I need you to go listen to it right now, m'kay? Owl Cityyyyy. <333


Little lights flash in your eyes
Glowing by the fireside
Leave the presents on the floor
'Cause you're the one I'm waiting for


I know it's called "Kiss Me Babe, It's Christmastime," but a lot of the lyrics always make me think of Jesus and how wonderful He is, and how much I love the way He holds me tight, and how when I let Him lead the way during the holiday, my soul always feels so fed. <3





3. You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Lindsey Stirling




I'm not ashamed to say I've been listening to this song quite a lot this Christmas season. Sabrina Carpenter does a highly impressive job with the vocals (she's PERFECT for this rendition, tbh), and of course Lindsey Stirling doesn't disappoint with the violin. Their collab is fresh but doesn't butcher the feel of the original song at all. Love iiiiiit.


Your heart's an empty hole
Your brain is full of spiders
You've got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch


I saw someone in the comment section on YouTube joking about how they'd never heard the phrase "seasick crocodile" sung so beautifully before, and I have to agree.


4. Mary, Did You Know? by Pentatonix



The more I listen to Pentatonix's Christmas songs, the more annoyed I become, but their version of "Mary, Did You Know?" is EXCELLENT. More than that, I can't get enough of the lyrics. They give me chills. Jesus is incredible, to have done what He did - gave up His throne and became a human being, born into the world as a baby boy. This song puts that amazing truth into a perspective that's enough to take my breath away. Just... wow.


Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod
And when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God




~MOVIES~


1. It's A Wonderful Life - has been and always will be my favorite Christmas movie of all time. It's a MASTERPIECE.

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2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - the sweetest, most precious movie. I watch it every single year without fail. <3

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3. The Polar Express - an underrated movie, in my opinion. It's SO good.


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4. A Christmas Carol (with Jim Carrey) - awesomely creepy, and so faithful to the original! (As far as I can remember, at least. It's been many a year since I read the book.)


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Runners-up: Home Alone and The Santa Clause


~MEMORIES~


For this section, I decided to peruse the December entries of my old journals to find some Christmas-y snippets to share. It's fitting because my very purpose in journaling is to preserve memories. <3

1.

Driving at night looking at all kinds of decorations and trying to spot Christmas trees in houses: "I just trespassed with my eyes!" Listening to "In the Bleak Midwinter." Being utterly SHOCKED when the life-sized angels on the walls of a church moved - I thought they weren't real, they were being so still, but it turns out the church was displaying a very cool live Nativity! ~ Dec. 27, 2017

2.

Just think about how a little crying infant with balled fists and a soft head and a cute face was the same God who created the entire universe, dethrones kings and raises kings up, parted the Red Sea, performs miracles, holds time and space and matter in His hands, and is EVERYTHING. Just think about it. ~ Dec. 27, 2017



3.

I'm sitting in Dad's chair, the tree behind me with its makeshift angel - courtesy of [sister's] creativity - perched on top. Classic Christmas music blares from Mom's phone in the kitchen, and the lights strung across the pictures of my siblings and me frame our fake smiles with multicolored holiday lights. I love this moment. ~ Dec. 10, 2016

4.

Yesterday was Christmas!! For breakfast, we had donuts and eggs and fruit salad. I wanted to get right to the present-opening as soon as we were done eating, but Mom tortured us all by making us do chore after chore after chore... ~ Dec. 26, 2015

~

So those are some of my favorite Christmas tunes, films, and journal snippets! Now I'll let you get back to that last minute shopping/packing/baking/whatever-else-you're-doing to prepare for Christmas. <3 Just don't get distracted from the true Reason for the Season, all right? I'll try to do the same.

Next time I see you guys, it'll be almost time to usher in the new year. O_o (I'm extremely excited for 2019, though. So much epicnesssssss.)


The Lord's Truly,

All right, you knew this was coming: What's your favorite Christmas song? Favorite Christmas movie? Favorite Christmas memory? I'm desperate to know, so comment below! (#poetry XD)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

TIPS FOR WRITING BITTERSWEET ENDINGS // at least... how i wrote one!


I've never been comfortable sharing writing tips here on the blog, which is why I tend not to post writing advice articles. For one thing, whenever I try to write writing-advice posts, I usually feel like a very amateur writer who doesn't know what she's talking about. And for another, I read a lot of blogs/websites whose primary focus is giving writing advice, and I don't want to end up unintentionally paraphrasing their epic words of wisdom. Especially if I don't have a whole lot of experience on the topic.

I hate being uncertain about these things. :P

Today, though, I have something to say. Advice I haven't seen before. A topic I have some experience with. And I couldn't say I'm completely certain about any of it, but then again, since when is anything about writing set-in-stone? The realm of storytelling is a vast ocean full of possibilities. Its flexibility is part of what makes it so fun, and so beautiful. <3

But I digress. Today we're going to talk about bittersweet endings. Why do I love them even though they're painful? And how does one write a bittersweet ending effectively? I haven't written a LOT of bittersweet endings - story conclusions that are a mix of happy and sad - but I've written one or two. So... I'm kind of wingin' it here, but not totally. :D


Why I Love Bittersweet Endings:

1) They're realistic. As a Christian, I know I'm going to ultimately have a sweet ending (and by ending I of course mean eternal ending, as paradoxical as it sounds). But temporally speaking, there's always going to be SOMETHING unpleasant, stressful, or downright painful going on in our lives, whether we're talking a pinprick or a tsunami. Most books, I'd say, end with at least a pinch of bitter along with the buckets of sweet. What I'm referring to by "bittersweet ending" in this post, however, is a more even division of the satisfactory and the sad. Like Allegiant, for example. (though maybe not quite so brutal as that, idk.)

2) They do things to your heart. Done right - and the rest of the book done right - bittersweet endings will TORTURE A READER'S FEELS. Something about that fascinating blend of satisfying and heartbreaking messes with us. And the realisticness of it only adds to the intensity of the feels punch, while at the same time solidifies once and for all our undying love for the book.

3) They're memorable. Ties in with #2. A bittersweet ending sticks with us more than a sweet ending does.

No one's going to forget the end of Allegiant.

White Sketch Pad Beside Cup of Coffee

~~~

Now that we've established why bittersweet endings are FTW, and briefly what I even mean by "bittersweet," the most important question now is, How does one write a bittersweet ending effectively?

Here are some things I think are important to keep in mind.


Tips for Writing Bittersweet Endings:

1) Make sure the bitter part of your ending is important to the story. Don't kill a beloved character simply for the sake of being able to say your story has a feelsie ending. If the bitter (sad, heartbreaking, etc.) part of the ending is thrown in with no relation to the main plot, doesn't have an equal or near-equal impact on the characters as the sweet part, or hasn't been foreshadowed/built upon throughout the story, then it's probably going to feel like it doesn't fit quite right. Which probably means that it doesn't fit right. Which probably means that your bittersweet ending is not effective.

By all means, lay on the bitter! Shatter my heart and squish my soul! But you've gotta make sure that feelsie ending is important. Make sure it fits.

2) Make sure the story has closure. Unsatisfactory ≠ bittersweet. Unless your story is the beginning or middle of a series, make sure you tie up all the loose ends. And whether there's a next book on the way or not, be sure the main storyline is resolved and complete. It's important to tie the plot together with its proper bow, because the sense of satisfaction it brings is what puts the sweet in bittersweet. 100% bitter will just leave a bad taste in the reader's mouth.

Don't leave me hanging. Instead...

3) Leave me with an ache in my heart but also with a smidgeon of hope. I don't care what horrible thing you did to your character(s) to put the bitter in bittersweet. By the very last page, I need a sliver of hope in regards to that horrible thing. I need at least a half-promise of healing and restoration, however small or gradual, to accompany the satisfaction of a well wrapped-up storyline and to tap the brakes on my broken heart.

The last thing you want is to leave your reader with a feeling of hopelessness. Leave them with tears in their eyes. Leave them soaked in feels. But please, don't forget to squeeze on a drop of hope that even after that terrible thing, maybe whoever or whatever was affected by that terrible thing will be okay.

Cappuccino Coffee Beside the Notebook


Examples of Books With Bittersweet Endings:

1) Allegiant by Veronica Roth (will never recover)
2) Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz (sooooo well-done *sobbing*)
3) North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson (a little different because it's in the middle of a series, but it still fits the bill)
4) Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (wouldn't recommend this one, but it CERTAINLY fits the bill)
5) Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer (eeeeeep <3)
6) Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker (I hope I'm remembering this one's ending correctly...)
7) Messenger by Lois Lowry (#ShatteredHeart #SquishedSoul)

~~~

So that's my two cents on bittersweet endings - the most realistic, most feelsie, most memorable story conclusions. So heartbreaking yet wrapped up so nicely. Sad yet satisfying.

Now comment down below with your opinion on bittersweet story conclusions! Do you love them? Hate them? What are some of your favorite/least favorite books that end bittersweetly? I would love to hear all your thoughts! <3


The Lord's Truly,

Saturday, December 8, 2018

3 BOOKS GOD USED TO INSPIRE ME // that may inspire you!


God uses so many things to inspire us. His Word, definitely. Other believers, for sure. Music, absolutely. And, hmmm... What else? BOOKS, OF COURSE.

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It's always super special when I feel God's encouragement, His comfort, His very presence in a book I'm reading. <3

My two topmost pieces of advice for experiencing this are 1) Be in tune with God! Make sure your relationship with Him is priority in your life and that you're communing with Him in the Word. After all, if you aren't hearing from Him in His own Book, what are the chances of hearing from Him elsewhere? And 2) Step away from secular books for a moment and read! Christian! Books! I'm not talking about those popular "Christian" romances, obviously. Noooo, what I mean is delving into a search for the real gems. Goodreads, Amazon, Google in general, friends and family. There are SO many resources!

Oftentimes, though, Spirit-inspired books don't have to be hunted for. For me, they tend to plop into my unsuspecting lap almost out of the blue. The three books I'm going to be talking about in this post - three of the many stories God has used to inspire me - came from three different sources not the result of intense search: a casual library find, a Christmas present, and an advanced reader/blog tour opportunity.

Let me tell you about my experiences with these books.


1.


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First, the casual library discovery. I honestly don't remember how I heard about The Door Within by Wayne Thomas Batson. What I do remember is that it was around Christmastime (like now! *turns up Christmas music*) in 2016. It had to have been 2016 because my mission trip to Honduras was coming up fast, and this mission trip was a BIG deal to me. (Reading this book was only part of the spiritual prep God led me through. XD)

The Door Within is about a boy living an ordinary life until he discovers an important object (I think it was some kind of scroll??) and ends up entering a different world, where he is challenged beyond anything he could have imagined. When he thought he would fall, he was given the strength to continue. When he pressed on even through darkness, he saw and experienced marvelous things. I don't even remember most of the book, it's been so long. Only the vaguest outline of it.

What struck me in the heart about this book was that this boy (I think his name was Aiden...?) and I were on a parallel journey! Both of us had been transported by our King into new territory, where things were so different from what we were used to. I hadn't gone to Honduras yet, but 1) I would soon, and 2) God had taken me to a brand-new place in my relationship with Him as well, almost like a breathtaking new world. As I followed this ordinary, flawed, so very HUMAN protagonist through his up-and-down, faith-testing adventure, I related soooo hard and drew such inspiration from it.

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It didn't have an original fantasy plot, and the writing may have been on the juvenile side, but the story holds a VERY special place in my heart nonetheless. And the Christian allegory behind it may not have been subtle, but I actually loved it for that. It's what I needed at the time.




2.


Image result for hidden blessings kim cash tate


Next up is the Christmas present. I hadn't put this book on my wish list - hadn't even heard of it - but I'm so glad I got Hidden Blessings by Kim Cash Tate because it turned out to be beautifully, heart-breakingly inspiring. A spring 2017 read of mine, I believe. :))

This story is an adult Christian contemporary about a woman living the dream, until her life is turned UPSIDE DOWN by a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer. Her fiancé backs out of their engagement even though their wedding was right around the corner, leaving her virtually alone and utterly broken.

Again, it's been a hot minute since I read this, but I can't say much even out of what I remember. It inspired me to find the warm light of joy even in the bitter cold, to reach for the already out-stretched hand of God even when everything seems to be going wrong. It inspired me with the reminder that God is here, and God is working, no matter what.

What also made this book so special was the new perspective it gave me. Stepping into the shoes of a main character whose main antagonist is cancer was a valuable, insightful experience. Reading it felt important, rather than just entertaining.

I give away nothing, but... I almost cried, okay??? There was something so raw and real, so brutal yet beautiful, about this story. And the title captures the theme SO WELL. <3


3.

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And finally... the advanced reader/blog tour opportunity. This one is the most recent, a read of mine from earlier this year (which is over in less than a month, wut)!The blog tour post, including my review of Dagger's Sleep by Tricia Mingerink, is linked HERE if you're interested.

This book is about a prince and a princess. Now, that may not sound like anything special, but I promise you, this prince has a character arc that BLEW MY MIND, whereas this princess broke out of the mold so many YA princesses are crammed into it. It's gorgeously written, and it combines two of my favorite types of books: 1) fairy tale retelling, and 2) Christian allegory. You know how Chronicles of Narnia has probably THE most epic allegory of them all? Well, it may have been waaaaay too many years since I read Narnia, but I'll venture to say that Dagger's Sleep comes close. At least to me personally.

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What made the allegory aspect so epic wasn't any originality or clever subtlety of Christian symbolism. What made it so epic was how it made me feel. There's one scene in particular that was basically God reminding me that nothing can take my breath away like He can. That He is omni-beautiful (I hereby dub it a word). That He deserves all praise and respect and reverence. That He is everything.

That, simply, is how God used Dagger's Sleep to inspire me.

~~~

Well, friends, I'll wrap up this post with a word of encouragement: If your reading life has been feeling sort of dry lately, maybe pick up a Jesus book. There are so many secular books I love, SO many I want and plan to read, but I think it's important to read Christian books too (Christian books that don't just have the label but are truly Jesus stories <3). They're the real gems, refreshing the heart and soul because they are SPIRIT-INSPIRED.

So pick up a Jesus-inspired story. Jesus wants to inspire you.



The Lord's Truly,

All right, friends, I wanna know... What's a book God has used to inspire you?? And have you read any of the books in this post? (IF NOT, YOU SHOULD. THEY'RE LOVELY. <3) What are you thoughts on secular book intake vs. Christian book intake? I'm DYING to chat with you in the comments!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

KNOW THE NOVEL - PART TWO // participating in a link-up one day too late



You know that moment when you wanted to finish your post on Friday, but then life threw a curveball and you ended up going out of town that day and not coming back until about 12:30 in the morning, and then you realize after sleeping through half of Saturday that the link-up you wanted to participate in has closed?

Because that's how I feel right now.

Well, all I have is this post, and I need to post something. So, I'm jumping into your feed this fine Saturday evening to participate too late in the Know the Novel link-up, hosted by Christine @ Musings of an Elf. I didn't do NaNoWriMo, and I didn't do Part 1 of this link-up earlier, but after reading these questions for Part 2, I just COULD NOT pass up the opportunity to join (even though it's now too late to actually link up with the link-up)! Also, a writer can only go so long before gushing about her WIP again... *cough* I don't even know how many posts total I've written about Dusted Red (including the ones on my old blog), other than it's A LOT.

Click here to read more about the link-up and about November's set of questions! Even though it's DECEMBER 1ST NOW, WUT. O-o


1. How’s the writing going?


You know that writing slump I was talking about in THIS post? Well, I'm finally out of it!! Been out of it since November began, actually. (I would like an eggnog latte for my efforts, please and thank you.) So you could probably say that the writing is going PRETTY DARN WELL up in here. XD School and life and a new love for writing flash fiction keep me from being completely consistent with it, but I'm working on macro-editing (and plotting the sequel, which I'm ALMOST done with!) a lot more again and it feels soooo good. I love my story to pieces. <3

And I'm actually super excited to get to certain sections later on in the story that need serious editing/rewriting, as crazy as it sounds. Maybe because it involves Neverland...


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2. What's been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?



Figuring out my characters. Getting to know my characters. Becoming attached to my characters.  Characters, characters, characters. :D


3. Has your novel surprised you in any way?


I pantsed this book several times, so YES, I'VE BEEN SURPRISED A LOT.

I can't really think of any specific way, though. Maybe there are too many cases to choose from. Or maybe school has rendered me utterly brain-dead.


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4. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who's your favorite to write about?


*huggles all my characters*

*especially Hansel*

I hate to play favorites, but looking at my novel as a whole, and if I had to choose one, I'd have to say that Hansel is probably my fave. Many... INTERESTING things happen to him, especially later in the story, that make writing him sooooo very fun. *sobbing in corner*


5. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?


I would probably have to be Delmy, since she's the MC, so I'm connected to her and her POV in a more intimate way than with any of my other characters. If we're talking about who I would want to be, I'd most likely say Tink. Tink is smart and doesn't get into much immediate danger throughout the book.

(Then again, the pressure hits her HEAVILY towards the climax... :P)

If I were Delmy, I probably wouldn't have the guts to inch even one toe into Fawood. So me being Delmy would end the story before it even truly began, lol. If I were Tink, I would most likely ruin everything by not being anywhere near as smart as her. XD

Hmm, am I selling myself short here? *taps chin*



6. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!



~FIRST SENTENCE~

We held the burning ceremony behind the baker's house.


~OTHER SNIPPET~
We're just going to go with one. I know, I'm a rebel.

"Makes me think of a shifter cloak, only red." He stressed the last word, putting extra emphasis on the oddity of my cloak's distinctive color.
I debated for a moment whether to tell him - and Gretel too, who ignored us but could definitely hear us - about the weirdest aspect of my cloak. Even if they were Fawood horrors, which I could no longer believe, what difference did it make whether they knew about my magic cloak or not?
"When she gave it to me at eight years old, it fit me perfectly." I fingered one edge of the red fabric. "As you can see, it still fits."
Hansel's eyes widened. Gretel stopped in her tracks, then whirled around. "Wait, you mean it's magic?"



7. Have you come across any problem areas?



Well, Delmy is one. When I read through my first draft (well, third first draft) I discovered that Delmy acts rather stupid, annoying, and selfish at times. Her character needs a little work - nothing drastic, but still necessary. It's just one challenge editing has thrown at me.



8. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?



Not tearing my hair out.

In all seriousness, though, I'm very proud of my edited beginning. It was an utter MESS before, but after much rewriting (and by the grace of God, no doubt), it is now much improved and I'm so happy about it, because I remember thinking, "How am I going to fix this mediocrity??" as I was originally writing said mediocrity.

Beginnings are tough for me. (Not as tough as climaxes, though. Yeesh.)



9. Be honest, have you killed any characters off yet?


Sorry, that's classified information. Do I kill anyone? Do I not? Do I torture them almost to the brink of death? Who knows.


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10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this particular novel has looked like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!


I hide in my hobbit hole bedroom most of the time, because then I won't have blaring television and chatterbox siblings to distract me. Sometimes, though, (read: rarely) I'll crave a change of setting and go into the living room.

Typically I like to be alone, lots of water is consumed, and no candles are lit. << I would love a library-scented one, though. Or book-scented one, or whatever it's called. As for music... ALWAYS. I need me some of them wordless tunes to get me into the writing mood.

As for procrastination, I've been doing better with it lately (I think), but you better believe it's happened to me MANY a time and will absolutely strike again. :P


~~~

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I said last post that I was back into blogging. I promise I actually mean that now. Why? Because thanks to a post by the ever-awesome Abbie, I have all my blog content for December and January all planned out. Get ready for posts by moi every week once again!


The Lord's Truly,

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A CERTAIN SORT OF MADNESS // review ft. aesthetic collages!


Oh look, it's Chandler! That naughty monkey crawled into my blog graphic while I wasn't looking. *is indignant*


Book reviews are waaaay less popular than other types of posts. At least, that's how it is on my blog and what I seem to notice on lots of others. I don't really have a right to criticize this when I myself will often pass over a book review post in my Blogger feed, especially if it's a book I'm not interested in or have never heard of. But it's still kind of sad?? I shall try to change my ways. :P After all, how else am I supposed to find new books for my TBR if I'm not reading reviews? My TBR list is always in DESPERATE need of more books, don't you know.

So anyway, for those of you who are actually reading this, I'm trying to spice things up a little bit! First of all, there's a monkey on my blog graphic. Not something you see every day. (Chandler is a character in the book I'm about to review, so his unprecedented appearance is relevant). Secondly, I made some AESTHETIC COLLAGES. We always make collages for our WIPs, but I don't often see collages for other books, so I thought... why not?? Besides, when I got this idea I had recently discovered the Pinterest board for this particular book and it is AMAZING.

I hope you enjoy reading all my flaily thoughts! (Yep, it's a five-star book, so... you've been warned.)

~ABOUT THE STORY~

Insanity is catching…
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Alicia Hareton is crazy. But that’s nothing new. Her insanity is inherited from her mother, just like her magical abilities and her blood ties to the strange and alluring world of Amar. She’s spent her life on Earth and yet Amar has always called to her, an intoxicating melody that she cannot ignore. Returning to Amar would put her life in danger, but Alicia has never let such technicalities stop her before.


However, when her mother is captured due to her reckless actions, Alicia will do anything to rescue her. That includes trusting her grumpy, sarcastic imaginary friend, who claims he doesn’t know her and doesn’t seem that imaginary anymore. Or that trustworthy. Together, with the help of her cousin and a band of misfits, they partake in an extremely ill-advised heist on the faerie court in order to find a way to defeat the most powerful mage in all Amar, who also happens to be Alicia’s grandfather. But not everything in the faerie court is as it seems, and soon this unlikely group find themselves fighting for their lives as well as the lives of those they love.


In a world of madness and magic, the lines between lies and loyalty are blurred and sometimes the only option you have left is to let the insanity loose.


See more about A Certain Sort of Madness on Goodreads HERE.

~~~

First things first...

Disclaimer #1: All pics in the collages below were found on Nicki Chapelway's Pinterest board, so I can't take credit for having found them all on my own. XD Srsly, guys, check out her board - it is GORGEOUS. (Feel free to follow her and love on alllll her amazing book aesthetics while you're at it. ;D I can't get enough of her My Time in Amar boards! *heart eyes*) 

Disclaimer #2: As aforementioned, I found the pics in the collages below on Pinterest. They are NOT mine. All credit goes to their original creators. Their sources can be found by locating the pictures via Nicki's board HERE.


~MY REVIEW~

So. A Certain Sort of Madness. Nicki Chapelway is a friend of mine, but I can assure you that this book hasn't received a glowing five-star rating just because of that. It can be easier than we realize to be biased in this way, but when I think about the characters, plot, setting, and other aspects of this fantasy story, I can't imagine giving it any less than five stars. I couldn't be more sincere in this: I found this novel to be AMAZING.

It's always a good sign when everything about the first few pages - the mood, the style, the main character - sucks me in and makes me feel like I'm THERE. The first few scenes took my breath away and already had my mind reeling like, I wanna keep reading. I wanna. keep. READING.

Alicia as a protagonist intrigued me from page 1. So many YA female protagonists feel like almost-clones, but Alicia is so incredibly different. She brings a unique perspective to the table, one that fits the mood of the plot and the vibe of the setting absolutely PERFECTLY. And most intriguing of all is that she's not all there. ;)




*see disclaimers above*

One smol gem I was delighted to encounter was how well-executed the respective POVs of Alicia and Olivia were. Their voices couldn't have been more distinct, and whenever the POVs swapped, each was like a breath of fresh air from the other. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed them both.

It's hard to talk about Dante because I legit FELL IN LOVE WITH THE GUY, s
o my brain sort of turns to mush when I try to formulate words about him. Suffice it to say that he's real and complex and soft and savage and quiet all rolled into one mysteriously attractive package. <333

In fact, ALL the characters are real and complex. Fun-loving Eugene wasn't just a blob of fun, like some comic relief characters can seem sometimes. He was funny, all right, but there are more layers to him than that. (He's like a puzzle trying very hard not to look like a puzzle. XD) Hector and Jane and Alicia's mother and even little Chandler... everyone had a fascinating edge to them.




As for the setting (I'm mostly talking about the fairy court here), it was descriptive enough for me to be able to picture it but vague enough that I had to wonder what exactly I was picturing. Which was an odd but also REALLY cool feeling! In short, the setting was a weird sort of aesthetic that I loved.

The plot was solid, sprinkled with clever twists that gave me metaphorical whiplash. XD Gotta love a delicious or devastating surprise, and A Certain Sort of Madness was full of such surprises.

The romance turned my heart inside out and had me SWOONING. *pause* Well, grinning like an idiot. The ships are just perfect. <3

It was just so, so, SO well-done in every way. The only negative thing I can say is that there were quite a few typos, but I did read an ARC, so the book wasn't in its final form. I expect that a lot of the typos were cleaned up before publication.

And as for the ending, all I dare say is that it stomped on my heart. I cannot WAIT for book 2.



~~~

So, does this book sound good to you? I assure you it is, especially for fans of fantasy that has dangerous heists and mischievous thieves and evil fairies. Comment below what you think about book review posts and - if you've read it - what YOU think of A Certain Sort of Madness!

The Lord's Truly,