Tuesday, May 15, 2018

8 Books of my Childhood

Guys, I am so excited to read this last book. The Penderwicks is one of the series I grew up on, and now it's going to be over. Batty and Jane and Skye and Rosalind were all like sisters I didn't have, and I could see so much of myself in all of them. This series was one of the series that I'll go back and reread when I'm old and sitting in a rocking chair because it holds so many memories - of the story, and of me reading them. 

After rereading this series (in anticipation of getting back into the Penderwicks' world), I thought of the other books that were important parts of - let's call it my childhood. Books I'd read over and over, and that I would still go back and read. 

I read Storybound during the November of my first Nano - November of 2012 (wait . . . that long ago?!). It's a sweet tale about a girl who is "Written In" to the world of Story, the world behind every book. Marrissa Burt's writing is very sweet, and reading it over again brings me back to my first forays in writing. 

Little Women 
Very similar to the Penderwicks (in fact, I'd say the Penderwicks in a modern Little Women), Little Women has been a special series to me since I was about ten years old. I devoured all of Alcott's books that I could get my hands on, and loved them all. Now, I cringe a little at how preachy Alcott can get, but when I was ten, twelve years old, Alcott's writing style was home to me. 

The Shakespeare Stealer 
This book was required reading in 5th grade, but I fell in love with it. This book is about Widge, a young apprentice who is ordered to infiltrate the company of actors that Shakespeare worked with and steal the script of Hamlet. Blackwood's writing in general is amazing (two of his other great books are Around the World in 100 Days and Curiosity), and this was an intriguing story.

Ah, Ramona. I had a love/hate relationship with this series. Reading one of the books again recently, I was hit with a huge wave of nostalgia. But Ramona was always a bit bratty for me - couldn't the girl understand that stopping and thinking was ever a good idea? But she was also relatable - don't we all make innocent mistakes? But this was a series I read a lot when I was in third or fourth grade. 

Pippi Longstockings 
When I was in second grade or so, I started getting an obsession with the country of Sweden when I did a project over it. And, naturally, that lead to me reading Pippi Longstockings and the other two books in the trilogy. The books tell about a young girl who lives in an old house in Sweden with her monkey, Mr. Nielsen, and the mischief that she and the neighbor children get up to. I think I read this book a dozen times, and the stories never got old to me. Now, the book reminds me about little nine-year-old True who loved the silly story and the country it came from. 

Caleb's Story

The book is one of the rattiest on my shelf, because it's been read so many times. Most people know this series by it's first book, Sarah Plain and Tall. But for me, the first and dearest book is the third book, Caleb's Story. When I was maybe four, I received four "big kid books" from some summer reading club deal at the library and this book was one of them. My dad read me it so many times. When my dad reads, he does voices for each character and can make a story come alive. Caleb's Story was one of the books he worked his magic on - and it's one of those books that I'll never forget. 

Charlotte's Web 
Another book that I got that summer was Charlotte's Web. My dad read my this one, too: and it also became a favorite of mine. Now, the book is almost as ratty as Caleb's Story. We watched the movie several times (not the newer version - I'm talking about the old animated one), and while it was one of my favorites, the book has a special place in my heart that no movie can ever do justice. 

Little House on the Prarie 
Little House was one of my first escapes. I remember my mom finding the first book at a library book sale and giving it to me. I thought the cover could have been prettier (I didn't like the red color), and hated the Indians (reading that part made my stomach curl from second-hand terror, and I'd usually skip it). But I loved the books. I'd read the Long Winter every summer, to try and imagine that it was anywhere close to cold. I remember measuring my age compared to Laura and Mary (and it's slightly frightening to think that I'm as old as Laura is in the last two books).

There we are. Eight books of my childhood - bound pages of stories, but also of unprinted memories. These books definitely shaped my reading preferences, but they also influenced other parts of my life. And I am so glad that I have them all in my mental shelves. 

I want to hear from you! Are there any books here that you have read? What are the books from when you were younger that you remember fondly? 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Facing the Dragon

Well, look who’s back from an unexpected hiatus! Honestly, I really wasn’t planning to take a break - when life got absolutely crazy one week, I decided to just skip one day, and that snowballed into almost a month and a half. But now with school wrapping up, I’m hoping to be able to take a breather and stick to a consistent posting schedule again.

But let’s back up a little. When I said that craziness in life stopped me from writing on this blog, that was only half accurate. I really needed to focus on school and life in the beginning, yes. But after a few weeks, I was caught up (mostly) and in a better position. I know that if I had tried a little harder, I would have been able to post. 

So what was stopping me? 

As usual, there was an element of fear. Little demons whispered in my mind, reminding me that this was for others to see. And soon, getting back to my writing schedule was like a dragon in my path - something that I was letting get in the way of my goals. There are so many types of dragons in our lives - things that we don't do because it's hard or not fun or scary. They're all actions I need or want to take but just . . . put them off. 

Sometimes there are dragons in our paths that are big and scary and you are pretty sure that you’ll get burned because - eep look at those flames! But these dragons might be in our paths for a reason. And the treasure that they guard could make you so much richer. 

The book The Hobbit illustrates this pretty well. In The Hobbit, Bilbo had two dragons. Smaug was the literal fire breathing one that did try to kill him a few times. But Smaug kind of represented the other dragon, the main obstacle that Bilbo overcame: the challenge of leaving the Shire and becoming more than just a hobbit who likes to make smoke rings in his front yard. 

Bilbo learned different things from these dragons: he took “classes," if you will. “Extreme Thievery 101,” “How Not to Get Killed By a Creature that Wants Dearly to Kill You” and “Intro to Coming Back from the Dead” were key things that he learned. He also learned in the abstract. “Bravery for the Fainthearted,” “Cultivating a Sense of Adventure,” and “Thinking Quickly in a Tight Spot” were only a few of these lessons. 

And after Bilbo faced his dragons, he grew. The dragons challenged him and forced him to change, to learn, and to grow. He changed as a person -er, hobbit - and became more. 

We all have Smaugs in our paths, dragons that guard things in our lives. That prevent us from just walking up and plucking the things we want off the shelf. There may be the, easier paths available to us - but if we take them, we won’t get to the treasure that the dragon guards. We have to work to get this treasure - and best of all, we get to learn from them. These dragons may be obstacles, yes, but they are also opportunities, if only we will take them. 

Because only by challenging our dragons will we move and will be able to grow. It’s all right if the dragons scare you, but don’t let them stop you from taking the path you want to take. You have a sword and you have an amazing mind and you can use those weapons to get past any dragon if only you try. 

This is a lesson I'm learning over and over, something I have to remind myself more and more often now. Change is scary. The adulating world is scary, and it's easy enough to sit in comfort. But I'm not pushing myself, and I'm not doing the best I can when I let my dragons keep me from pursuing the treasure I want. 

Whatever the dragons are that you may face, I encourage you to take the first step and raise your sword. Because while I know that you can overcome these dragons, you will never know until you try. 

Let's talk! What are the dragons you face? Do you know why they're dragons? And do you have any plans for the summer (with, oh my goodness, is almost here)? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Liebster Award 2018

Both Ivie and Audrey tagged me for this on the same day almost a month ago (I know, I take forever to do tags!), and I am so looking forward to doing this! Thank you both for giving me the opportunity do participate in this! 

- Thank the person who nominated you. (I've said it once but I'll say it again - thank you Ivie and Audrey!) 
Answer the eleven questions they gave you.
- Name eleven facts about yourself. 
- Nominate eleven bloggers for this and let them know. (Aaaand . . . let's see how that goes.) 
- Give them eleven questions.

Favorite candy?
Chocolate. I'm not very picky about candy, but I will always accept something with chocolate in it. White, milk, dark - I don't really have a preference beyond that. It's all chocolate! 

Favorite book? 
Ivie, you evil, evil person. You mean I actually have to chose one book!? Inconceivable. Fine . . . I'll chose some favorites. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Outsider by S.E. Hinton. The Memory of Light by Fransisco X. Stork. And The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. 

Favorite author?
Iviieee. Whyyyy? All right, to be fair, I've probably asked this question more than I should have. So I suppose I'll say . . . J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Gail Carson Levine. They've all influenced my writing in different ways. 

Would you rather have to publish your first draft or publish your third draft?
Easy - third draft. I've already gone through the horror of publishing a first draft and once was more than enough. (That's a story for a later date, though.)

Favorite movie?
I actually don't watch a lot of movies (and am working on correcting that!) but I'd say that that Howl's Moving Castle (and other Studio Ghibli films) is one that I really like, off the top of my head. The Greatest Showman is also really great. ;) 

Favorite Gif?

How long have you been blogging?
Less than two months! I started in very late January and now it's mid-March - it's been a neat journey so far.

Do you like candles?
Yes, though I rarely ever get the chance to use them! A friend gave me a really neat scented candle that I keep by my desk to light during special occasions, and I love the smell it gives off. 

Rainy day or sunshine?
Bright sunshine and crisp wind. But if it's a muggy, hot sunny day, then I'll take the rain in a heartbeat.

How long have you been writing seriously?
I've been writing seriously (which I'll define as "with the goal to finish a long project") since I was nine or ten . . . has it really been seven years? Wow. 

Reading or writing? 
Both. Consuming and creating stories are two necessities of life. I don't think I could give up one or the other . . . even if you forbade me from writing or from reading, I'll get my stories through audio and would make them up in my head and record them or tell them to whoever would listen.

What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try but never have?
Hmmm . . . I would love to go zip lining some day, or skydiving. I mean - that's as close as I'll ever get to flying, so . . . ;) 

Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
Confession: I watched my first Marvel movie a few weeks ago. (And I mean "watched" in the literal sense - I only heard about 15% of the movie because only a few of the people I watched it with were interested in hearing the movie. I need to go back and really watch it, considering I don't know any of the characters' names.)

But the movie was The First Avenger - so if I have to chose, I suppose Team Cap, considering I've never seen anything of Iron Man? 

What’s your favorite word?
And it may be corny, but I think it might be "yet." So much possibility and hope live in those three letters. Other words that I like because they're pretty or fun - "precocious," "iridescent," and "tintinnabulation." 

If it could only be one season for an entire year, which would you choose?
Spring. It has bright, crisp sunny days and cool rainy ones at the same time. The trees and plants aren't dead yet, but they're blooming and beautiful. And it's not scorching hot or freezing cold. 

Laptop or desktop?
Laptop. It's portable, and I can use it anywhere. (And, it's so sleek and fast.) But I do still use desktops when I need to. 

What’s your favorite joke?
I enjoy wordplay a lot, so the two that I can think of are puns. Highlight the text inside the parentheses to see the answers. What do you do with a dead chemist? (You Barium) And: What is Beethoven dong now? (Decomposing) 

What’s your favorite book of the Bible?
When I was younger, it was Ruth and Esther because those were the only ones where a girl was the "main character" of the story. Now, I like the poetry and wisdom in Psalms. 

What were your favorite novels in middle school?
Louisa May Alcott's works were some of my favorites (and still are). Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Angel in my Pocket by Ilene Cooper is another one - I haven't read it in a long time, but I remember reading it so many times. Caleb's Story and the other books in the Sarah Plain and Tall series. And Storybound and Story's End by Marrissa Burt.

If you could learn any language, what would it be?
It's hard for me to chose just one! I think I'd chose Japanese for a few different reasons. The main reason is because of my Japanese side of the family that I can't communicate with without a translator. And because the culture is amazing. 

Which do you like better: thunderstorms or blizzards?
I've never been in a blizzard (that I can remember), but I do like thunderstorms. Thunder's kind of comforting at times - unless it sounds like Zeus is trying to shatter the sky. 

What’s someplace you’ve always wanted to visit?

France. But I would love to go to London, or to Sweden! 

1. I can speak some French, and know bits and pieces of Esperanto, Spanish and Japanese. 

2. I consider myself a literature/language person, but at school I have the most fun in math classes and the least fun in English classes. 

3. I've donated my hair twice before. My hair is super thick, and I might donate it again soon. 

4. I love the smell of campfire smoke - it reminds me of camping with my family and thick woods. 

5.  I've done martial arts for almost four years now. 

6. I'm an introvert - I adore being with people, but when my "people battery" dies, I'm sitting at the sidelines, happily watching. 

7. I've sliced my thumb three times - the same thumb, the same way. Twice peeling apples for a pie, once with a peach for a cobbler. (I'm a menace in the kitchen. 

8. I've been to Japan a three times - and think it's one of the best places in the world. 

9. Playing chess is one thing that I really like to do but barely ever can. 

10.  I can't stand sweet tea - it's way too sweet for me. Because I live in the South, some people call me a traitor for not liking the "standard" beverage. ;) 

11. I've never been public schooled - I've been homeschooled my entire life. Now,  I guess I'm in a "school system" because I'm a dual credit student, but I still consider myself homeschooled. 

1. What's your favorite flower? 
2.  If you could be any character for a day, who would you chose? (And what would you do in that day?)  
3. Favorite part about blogging? 
4. Cats or dogs?
5. What song always puts you in a good mood? 
6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
7. Favorite ice cream flavor?
8. What's your favorite quote? 
9. What is one achievement that you are really proud of but might seem weird to other people? 
10. What book would you always recommend? 
11.  Who is your biggest source of inspiration? 

In advance - if I tag a person who's already been tagged, I'm sorry! 

Lila @ Red-Hooded Writer
Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings 
Lisa @ Inkwell 
Brianna @ No End of Books
Faith @ The Writer's Song
Nicole @ Wild Pennings
Catherine @ Rebellious Muse
Sarah @ Introverted Extrovert
Julian @ Saver of Memories 
Hannah @ Inkblots and Coffee Stains 
Sarah @ Sarah Plain and Average 

Wow - that was long - if you made it to the end, I'm impressed! Tell me - what is your favorite word? Favorite joke? What song always puts you in a good mood?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Little Gifts

We've just turned the clocks forward by an hour, and the evenings are sunnier and more and more like spring. The weather (where I am) still can't decide if it wants to freeze us or roast us, and tries to blow us away in the mean time.

And in all of this changing of the seasons, I want to take a moment to step back and just marvel at the beauty of it.

Spring isn't my favorite season, but looking out at the crisp sunny day ahead of me, I think that spring is an amazing gift.

The world around us - the man-made world that's called society - is full of so many dark, depressing tings. We hear about the stressors of adult life, and all we can see in the news is death and horror. We see people shaking their heads and sighing about how they're leaving so much trouble for our generation when we inherit the world.

It makes me wonder why I would want to inherit that world.  

Not a few weeks ago, it was cold and dreary (and - oh the horror - icy). Clouds hung low in the sky, and dead leaves and dull grass was all that you could see on the ground. Stark, bare trees stood still, only shaking their branches when the cold wind comes around.

But in a few short weeks, the world is all so changed. The sky is high and blue. There are colors - everywhere. Lush greens, and bright pinks and whites and yellows. I see crepe myrtles and dogwood in bloom everywhere, and the wind is playful instead of biting.

And these change in the weather reminds me to look out for the little things we might take for granted, because those things are marvelous.

Sometimes, we need to be reminded that there is beauty in the world. We take so much for granted that it's so easy to overlook the amazing things in life and bombard ourselves with the negative things. But when we start looking, there are so many things out there that make life worth living - and the world something that we might want to inherit.

And in the few days that I've been stepping back to really think about these little blessings, I've found so much that makes my life worth living. Sharing a family night with my family. Inside jokes. Flowers, warmth, and color. Sleeping in an extra hour. Blueberry pie. Books. Watching a sunset, or a flock of birds take off from the ground. Small, precious things, that might make up a "normal" day, but that can be so extraordinary. 

So go outside. Take a walk. Go to the store, to the library, to school. And stop, and look around, and listen. How many beautiful things can you see when you look for them? 

(I know this wasn't a normal post in a few different senses - and I know that it was late! It's been a hectic week, and I won't deny that I've been feeling lazy and antisocial recently. I apologize for not sticking to schedule!)

Talk to me! Can you think of small, beautiful things you take for granted? Are you on spring break right now? If so, how is it going? 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Comp Title Challenge

Madeline at Short and Snappy created this tag over a month ago, and when I saw it on some other blogs, I had so much fun doing some mental gymnastics to figure out comp titles for some of my own WIPs. Then Savannah over at Scattered Scribblings tagged me for this and now I actually get to complete it - and you guys get to see my "creations" - and some of my WIPs!

So, without further ado, I present -

For those of you not familiar with the term, a comp title is short for "comparison title." When you make a comp title, you chose a few different titles of other, already published (and probably well-known) works that you think your book is similar to. And these works don't have to be limited to books - TV series and movies work well as comp titles, too. Basically, you're trying to bring together the feel of the novel by comparing it to other works.

I'm picking four of my WIPs to craft comp titles for. Some of these I've edited, some of them I haven't even finished the first draft of. But here they are. (All the links lead to Goodreads pages for the books).

Soul Snatcher // Coraline meets Inkheart meets The Hobbit

Soul Snatcher
So . . . confession: I haven't actually read Coraline. I watched the movie when I was ten and it scarred me for life. But the feel of the movie, the horror and pacing and thrill of it, is what's pertinent to this book.

As for Inkheart - the characters and the style and maybe just a teensy bit of the storyworld? Storyworld is really why I picked Hobbit - the setting is supposed to be comforting and cozy even when it's trying to kill you, and the Hobbit is pretty much the epitome of that in my opinion.

Smarts, Hearts, and Courage // Wizard of Oz meets Seraphina

Smarts, Hearts, and Courage

In case the title wasn't a tip-off - this is kind of a Wizard of Oz retelling. (You know - the brain, the heart, and the courage.) I'm in the writing-the-first-draft-as-I-plot stage, and I'm not 100% sure if this project is going to succeed, but it's so much fun to write that I'm sticking with it for now.

So I chose Wizard of Oz for obvious reasons, but Seraphina was a bit more of a struggle. In the end, I chose it because of the storyworld - it's not quite a steampunk fantasy, but it's getting there. That's what I'm (currently) planning my Oz to be - a lot of jewelers and clockmakers and Victorian era-esque stuff (And yes, Victorian-esque is totally a world. Absolutely.) The idea of dragons morphing into humans also has a few parallels with certain things in my book.

Theater Ghost // Saint Anything meets Hamlet

Theater Ghost
In a nutshell, this is "modern theater ghost." This is the idea that's been rattling around in my head for a long time and has been dying to be written. Right now, the idea is "What if an actor died and came back to haunt their small-town theater?" Honestly, I think this one was the hardest comp title for me to come up with, and it's one of my weakest.

I chose Saint Anything because of the style and the tone of the book - it's a modern book, about characters grappling with coming of age questions, and it's tone is just slightly darker than a "gumdrops and beaches" book.  (You know what I mean. One of those light and fluffy modern YAs.)

I chose Hamlet because one, it's a ghost story and two because it's a play (that counts for something, right?), since this does take place in the theater.


This is an older project of mine that badly needs a rehaul and almost got it pretty recently. I've pulled up this little one and started working on rewriting the plot and fixing potholes that little twelve-year-old me thought weren't a problem at all. Basically, shapeshifters live in a world connected to this one by portals that humans call mirrors. mirrors. They're always guarding these portals, and when we try to go through the mirrors, their cold hands press back, to keep us out.

I'm choosing Lunar Chronicles because of the characters and the cool, slickness of Meyer's writing. Keeper of the Lost Cities is a little bit more light-hearted, which is one reason I chose it. The other reason is because it has a "group of people hides from humans but influences the humans without them knowing" thing going on.

And there we are! And I tag: 

Catherine @ Rebellious Muse
Danielle @ Snapper 
Ivie @ Ivie Writes
And anyone else who thinks they want to give this a shot. ;)

So what do you think? And do you have comp titles for your WIPs?