Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Art Museum Muse

I went to an art museum for one of my finals. There was an exhibit showcasing many famous art pieces related to gardens, mainly Monet, some Matisse. There were two Van Goghs that I fell in love with immediately. As part of the final, we had to write something in response to what we saw in the art hall. But I was stuck. I wrote a few crappy poems.

Then, the next morning I woke too early to function and wrote two prose poems. I don't write poetry. I don't consider myself a poet. But these poems wouldn't let me sleep. Because after I penned them, I went back to sleep perfectly fine. Here's what I wrote.


Weeping Willow

We swing among the branches of a tree that cascades green over the world. A fountain of leaves and vines. My feet graze the grass below the canopy of eaves as I grasp the vines and circle the thick trunk. Around and around, the branches twist over and over across my wrists and palms until I'm tangled in a crisscross net of green strings. But you... you soar above the world of green, gently wrapping yourself in a smooth cocoon of leaves and eaves. My feet hit the ground, jerk to a stop by the weight of my body. You unravel toward me, whispering, "Let's leave the weeping to the willow tree." And your eyes left me from gravity's graces until we're both caught in the tangle of the willows.


A World on Fire

The bridge hovers amidst a swirling storm of emerald and burnt orange. A glossy smear flickers the canvas into a wave of mystical fire and smoke. But there are shadows of reds--angry and passionate--and black--mysterious and dangerous. Vigilante color screaming into the dark streets of abandonment. Because it's not the brushstrokes that matter or how visible the bridge appears; it's not about the simmering shades or the time it took to get this far. It's about how it makes you feel. How the rage of fire forces you off the edge of a building to punch pavement and skulls until your hands are battered and dripping with the swirling storm of color. Until all you can see are the reds and blacks of a bridge on fire, of oil and canvas, of a world on fire, of chemicals and blindness.

Alone.


-Jaime

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Beautiful Books: December 2015

Ah, it's that time of the month again where I finally stop putting off my answers to the Beautiful Books link-up hosted by Sky @ Further Up and Further In and Cait @ Paper Fury. You can learn more about Beautiful Books here.


This month, we're supposed to discuss our editing process (click here for this month's questions). I'll be answering the questions about my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel: The Secret Library Society. Here we go...

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

I'd go with a 6 or 7? Technically, it's not finished. I hit over 50K, but I've yet to type the final ending because of the end of the semester workload. (But hey, now I'm free!) It turned out well. Obviously, I'll need to go back to edit because sometimes I overwrite or add things that don't need to be explained. However, a lot of things happened that I didn't expect (like characters who popped in or the side trip to Narnia...)

2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

I guess... The Book Thief (sort of) meets Inkheart with a hint of Narnia and something else...


3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

Yes and no. It helps me get my thoughts down in first draft, but if I'm trying to make it sound good, well, deadlines don't help. I do like to write "as inspired" but that is difficult to get away with in a professional writing world.

4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

I... don't? Haha... *cries* I've never fully edited anything I've written before. This semester of school has been the first where I've really sat down and edited/revised. I mainly, if I do it at all, rewrite. Otherwise, I try to get someone else to read it and tell me how to make it better.

5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?

Probably either character development or the plot progression. Or both. I'm a pantser/gardener, so while I've got ideas of where the story will go, sometimes unexpected things happen and the story veers off the original track or doesn't add up.

6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?

I love my characters, but I hope to flesh them out more and make each one distinct and important. I also love the world I created within the Library. There's lots of hidden surprises and interesting takes on real life library tasks. It was a lot of fun to write and imagine.

7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they'll need changes in edits?

Arthur: He's the adorable protagonist. He definitely grows and changes during the course of the story. He learns to believe in himself and to trust his abilities. It's cute.

Sam: She kind of disapprared during part of the novel when Arthur was caught up in the Library happenings. I would like to develop her character more and find ways to bring her into the story.


Recto: He kind of surprised me. I had an idea of who he would be, what he would do. But there were parts of his personality I hadn't discovered yet. He, and his sister, Verso, will need more development and to clear up inconsistencies.

Jacob: I didn't expect him. Yes, I knew there would be a character there, but I didn't expect who he would be or what he would do or how important and critical he would be to Arthur's growth. I didn't expect his name either. I think he'll need more development and more foreshadowing before his arrival in the story.

8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers
Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

I'm definitely looking forward to beta readers to help out. (I've got people who want to read it already.) I think once I've got a draft or two I'm comfortable with the only thing to help me is getting outside opinions. There's only so many times I can look at my own words before it blurs together. I think eventually, once it's been edited to the best it can, I would like to try to publish it. I feel this story has potential for me.

9. Share a favourite snippet!
Below him, he could see the center of the Library where the entrance was and the Archivist burrow was located. He could see the bookcases on the first level, row after row of them.
And they were all on fire.
The books were burning. The glare of the fire hit Arthur in shades of red and orange with the briefest glimmer of yellow. His face grew hot from the heat licking through the Library. Horror washed over Arthur. This couldn’t be happening. The Library could not be on fire!
10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

I plan to write an entire blog post about this soon, but my biggest goal is to edit/revise something I've written and find beta readers for it. :)


Did you participate in NaNoWriMo or Beautiful Books?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Saying Goodbye Means Forgetting

12-15-15
Today is the last week of my undergrad studies. On Friday, I graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. I'm not sure how I feel yet. It's a mixed bag of emotions. I finished one exam--which meant the final time I would be in class with one of the English professors. The other students discussed seeing her next semester, even if they won't have her in class. She said our final projects could be picked up any time next semester, but I won't be there. (It's a good thing my project was just a stack of papers.)

It was an odd feeling. I wanted to shout, "Except me!" I wanted someone to notice, someone to announce this was my last semester, that this was the last time I'd turn in a final, creative project as an undergrad. But nobody did. Nobody noticed. Will they notice when I'm gone next semester? Will they see an empty seat around the room and think, "I wish Jaime was here" or “Jaime would have an opinion to share on that.” Will it even matter that I graduated a semester early to save money (and my sanity)? Or will I become just another face to be remembered?

You see, I've slowly been cutting ties as this semester progressed. It sounds harsh, rude, even emotionless. But I've done it. I've stopped talking to people or didn't attempt to make more friends I would only say farewell too. Sure, I will keep in touch with some people; I won't lose everybody. But after I graduate, after they graduate in May, some of us will go our separate ways and become only memories, threads stretched thin and left to dangle. I won't mourn the loss of some friendships, as terrible as it sounds. Because I know it would be worse to feel neglected, forgotten, ignored in a few weeks when everybody complains about classwork on social media, and they pat each other on the back for their procrastination. I won't be a part of that. (I never actually was.)

I’ve still got two days of exams. I’ve got time to see people, to say goodbye. But I don’t want to say goodbye. In the words of Peter Pan, “saying goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.” I guess I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget the memories I’ve made, the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met. I don’t want to forget going to late night in the cafeteria and goofing around. I don’t want to forget working at the library and the fun (and shenanigans) that occurred. I don’t want to forget adventures to the store, to Ecuador, to other schools. I don’t want to forget midnight meetings to write poetry and look at the stars. I don’t want to forget the books I’ve read, the papers I’ve written, the stories I’ve dreamed. I don’t want to forget.

But I I feel as if it’s already slipping. I don’t remember the plot of the book I read my sophomore year in American Lit. I don’t remember how it felt to stand on the equator, on both hemispheres at the same time. I don’t remember the feeling of walking down that torturous hill in the cold, dead of winter. I don’t remember the words I’ve written, spoken, or thought. I don’t remember. I’ve already forgotten. And I haven’t even left yet; I haven’t even said goodbye.

How much will I forget in the next month? The next year? Will my time have been worth it? I don’t know. I hope to find out.

12-16-15
Today continued my goodbyes. There are three people I won’t see again until after I graduate (unless they see me tomorrow, which is doubtful). I didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t want to bring it up when everybody was going ballistic over the exam we were about to take. (An exam I wasn’t worried about nor felt was very hard.) I didn’t want to say “This is it.” I didn’t want the pressure of the last words or the thought that I don’t know when I’ll see them again. Yes, the one will be getting married next summer--I’ll see her then. But will I see her in between? Will I see her after that? I don’t know. The uncertainty chews at me, nibbling away my thoughts one by one. I fear losing this safe haven, which doesn’t feel safe any more. I fear losing everything I’ve tried to gain the last four years. I fear change.

If someone tries to say goodbye to me tomorrow, I think I’m going to (if I can remember) say, “No. Goodbye means going away. Going away means forgetting.” Because as I articulated, it’s true. Going away does make people forget. We’re human; we don’t remember everything, and nothing lasts forever. Life is dependent on one thing: change (or death). We’re supposed to be adaptable, but I feel I’m not. I fear change.

Change means stretching myself to fit the change. Yes, it means growth, but it also means something is different, I’m different.

As I sit here with only one exam (a highly unprepared for exam) between me and graduation, I try to think of everything undergrad has done for me. I don’t feel different. I don’t feel more knowledge or wise. I don’t feel like I’ve got anything going for me. Sure, I can write a pretty bangin’ research paper (if that’s possible). I can tell you the real story of Frankenstein or minute details from Middle-earth. I can even tell you the detailed history of Christmas in the world.

But what has college done for me? I honestly don’t know. I would hope my money is well-worth spent. My time used to the best of my ability. But I don’t know. People said college is where I would find myself. But I don’t know who I am. I’m still the person who questions everything and spends hours dwelling on my thoughts, words, or actions.  I’m still the person who gets caught up talking about TV shows and movies instead of figuring how who I’m going to vote for president. I’m still the little girl who gets lost reading books and dreaming up stories. I just don’t know if the world is ready to meet this girl, or if this girl is ready to meet the world.

I didn’t find myself. I learned some things, but who needs to know the history of Christmas or the plot to every Jane Austen novel or Shakespeare play? How is knowing the ins and outs of storytelling or poetry writing going to put food in my mouth and wi-fi on my computer? What will the classes I took three years ago do to influence me now when I can hardly remember what the topics of discussion and lecture were?

Maybe it’s disheartening to think about spending so much money without gaining anything in return. But I’m not here to be nice or impressive; I’m not here to brag. I’m here to be honest. I’m here to express myself. And right now, on the brink of exhaustion and overwhelming stress and slight anxiety for what comes after tomorrow, I’m feeling very dissatisfied.

My academic adviser had one last conference with me for my final class with him. For a while, I’ve felt at odds with him and other students based on my perception of how this semester went in the class. I felt unheard. I felt ignored. I felt whenever I spoke people didn’t listen or care. But he wrote something at the bottom of the paper I turned in for midterm. And he said it to me out loud, but it wasn’t until hours later when I looked back through his final comments and my peer review feedback that I read those words again. And I almost cried.

“Dear Jaime: You have everything you need to make it.”

12-17-15
Today, I didn’t say goodbye. I said, “See you later.” Because there will be a later. Because people do care. Because people, in the middle of an exam, asked to say goodbye. Because people celebrated my accomplishment and congratulated me.

I finished my final exam. I felt confident in what I did. I felt confident in the whole last week of the semester after I fought so hard to get through these past four months. But I did it. I finished. I’ve completed undergrad and now I have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. (I don’t physically have  the diploma yet, but I will soon.)

People ask me “What’s next?” My answer: “I’m just taking it one day at a time.” I have a few things coming my way, so we’ll see. One day at a time is how it always goes for me. I started a checklist of things to accomplish once I completed college. I’ve been able to cross off two so far. I’m sure more will be completed and more will be added to the list of things I should do.

-pay off loans
-watch Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (!!!!!)
-Read lots and lots of books (including: finishing Six of Crows and starting Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer)
-find a job?
-be happy

Later, I’ll be posting about my hopes, goals, and dreams about 2016. I’m going to also highlight books, moments, and accomplishments of 2015 at some point.

But for now, I’m going to sit back and let myself this moment to breathe. Because tomorrow is another day where anything could happen. Because today still feels like a dream world where I can’t tell if everything is happening. (Come on, I finished college and saw Star Wars Episode VII, this has to be a dream, right?) I felt surreal driving through campus one last time as a student, driving home from school and coming to the conclusion I won’t return in January (though my kind-hearted professor told me to have a good break), and sitting in the exam thinking: “This could be the last exam I take.” It’ll probably be the last literature exam I take.

It probably won’t hit me until mid-January when people discuss homework woes that I’m not there, that I’m not returning. That I’m finished.

It’s weird how when things change, the world still keeps going. I’m finished, but more students will study next semester and the semester after that and so forth for the foreseeable future. Star Wars is back and some people won’t see it, some people won’t care, and some people will never have the chance. I could say goodbye, I could say see you later. Both of those things or neither could happen. Because I won’t forget--not quite. I’ve written this moment down so it’ll be here as long as the Internet exists. Some people I won’t see again. Some people I will. And some moments will be remembered like they were a dream.

Because saying goodbye means going away.
And going away means forgetting.

But… the place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming... that’s where I’ll love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Fangirl Initiative Autumn Reading Challenge: Mission Complete

A few weeks ago (I know, I know), November ended. With it, The Fangirl Initiative's Autumn Reading Mission finished up as well. The goal was to read at least six of the ten creative prompts listed for the challenge. I successfully finished all ten prompts just in time. I would definitely call that success!


Here's what I read and a few thoughts about each.

1. Read something spooky: horror, Gothic, paranormal.

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Completed: October 28th

Duh-duh-DUN! Okay, so this was definitely spooky and weird. However, the whole "plot twist" of Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde wasn't so... plot twist-y. I knew it was coming because of pop culture. So the reveal didn't feel so "ta-da!" Still, I felt the story was intriguing to read since I'd never read the original tale.

2. Read something pumpkin related. (A book about pumpkins, a book with a pumpkin on the cover, a book the color of a pumpkin, anything.)

Frankenstein: The Graphic Novel (Original Text)
Completed: November 26th
(The cover was orange.)

I had to read this for school. It surprisingly told the original Frankenstein story very well. It stuck pretty close to the book.

3. Read something with less than 300 pages.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Completed: October 30th

I was genuinely surprised at how small this was. I thought it would be longer for some reason? It's basically word for word (?) the story I know. Like nothing is different from the story I know.

4. Read something with a place in the title.

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid
Completed: November 18th

Get it?

5. Read a book about sisters.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Completed: November 22nd

The sound you hear is the voice of fangirls in pain because of what I've done.

6. Re-read a favorite book. The first Saturday in November is dedicated to Book Lover’s Day.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis
Completed: November 8th

Once a king or queen, always a king or queen. Once a favorite story, always a favorite story.

7. Read a children’s book. The third week of November is dedicated to National Children’s Book Week. Bonus points if you read with a child.

Shake to Assemble by Marvel
Completed: November 5th

This is adorable. I read it to my nephew, who was a little too young to understand/pay attention. However, I think I'll keep it for when he's older. It's a must for Marvel fans.

8. Read a book with magic in it.

Among Others by Jo Walton.
Completed: November 18th

If you like SF novels, you should read this book. No, really. Go read it. Jo is a wonderful person I had the privilege of meeting. (That's right. I had dinner with a Hugo award winner.)

9. Read a book you’re thankful for. Read a book and thank it (or even its author?) for existing.

Winter by Marissa Meyer
Completed: November 15th

I'm thankful for this book because I've been dying to read it for over a year and it had everything I wanted, and more. I'm still not over Thorne and Cress or Winter and Jacin. This is a must read for lovers of fairy tales and YA fantasy. I aspire to write such a great story as Marissa Meyer.

10. Read a book related to fairy tales.

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson.
Completed: November 5th

You can find my review here.

What books did you read this fall?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beautiful Books: November 2015

You know how when you promise to post more on your blog, there tends to be this thing that happens, which includes not posting more? Yeah. I'm in the final month of my last semester of undergrad. Forever.

So I apologize for my continual absence. Fingers crossed I'll be around more in a month. I'm still writing for The Fangirl Initiative every week. And I'm thick into my novel for NaNoWriMo.

Since it's NaNoWriMo, I'm here to answer the next month of Beautiful Books questions! You can find out more about Beautiful Books here and participate yourself by answering this month's questions here. Since the questions are about writing processes, you don't necessarily need to be participating in NaNoWriMo to join in!


In the words of Disney's Peter Pan, "Here we go!" (I will be answering the questions for my NaNo novel, The Secret Library Society, which you can learn more about here.)

Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
Yes and no. It's going along the same vein I had originally hope, but it's definitely given me some surprises and twists I didn't see coming. Plus, it's becoming something better and more important than I thought possible.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
Arthur Benedict Williams was a very special boy. And he definitely deserved it.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
Panster the whole way. I've tried plotting, but I lose interest or don't stick to it. So I usually write with some ideas of what will happen (important plot points, scenes, or the ending/beginning, etc.) and let the rest just take over as I go. This is why lots of surprises and twists end up popping in and shocking me.

What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
Sleep. Food. More writing? It's hard because I just sit down to write and stop when I'm finished for the day. So far it hasn't been hard for me to sit down and write. It's hard to stop and go to sleep or get ready for the day (or do the things I'm responsible for).

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
I'm not sure what this question is asking. I usually just come up with a character and write down the first name that comes up. Sometimes I do go looking for names to fit specific characters.

For example, I've got two Pages in my novel (not like pages in a book but the people who shelf books). They're part of the Secret Library Society and their jobs are like "police officers" of the Library. They protect the Library. So I cleverly named them Recto and Verso, which mean the right hand side and left hand side of a book, respectively. (Oh, how I love play on words.)

Other names are taken from people I know who work in libraries.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
This is so hard to answer. It truly depends on the story for me. Sometimes I like the beginning because I get to launch myself into the story and into a  new world. Other times I like the ending because it's satisfying to write those final words, which wrap up the whole novel. But I've been enjoying the middle of this particular novel because I knew the beginning and end before I started. But I didn't know the middle. I've been having a blast exploring the middle.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
This is also so hard to answer. I adore Arthur because he's just this adorable little baby of mine. But Recto and Verso have been fun to write, as well as the other Inkling Arthur meets.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)
I've been researching a lot about books and libraries from before 1960. The book is set in 1960ish, so I can't have Arthur reading books that weren't out yet or weren't popular enough yet. Plus, the library system was quite different in the 50s-60s than it is today. I've also been looking up book covers of books for different years (though, I will probably need to fix this during edits).

I think the weirdest thing I researched were tools used in a library that could be used as a weapon. Hey, this is a fantasy! :)

Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
Definitely alone. I can generate ideas with others or talk to them about what is happening (like, oops Arthur just book-jumped to Narnia) but I can't write with other people around. It interrupts my flow. I will shares this with people eventually, but I like to keep first drafts--especially incomplete first drafts--to myself. When I started editing and need feedback, I'll share.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I don't have many habits. I don't write the same time every day. Sometimes I eat, sometimes I don't. I usually do have a cup of water nearby but I also usually forget it's there and never drink it. I like to listen to instrumental music to help the flow (8-tracks playlists are the best). But sometimes, I get so into the zone, I don't even realize the music has stopped playing for twenty minutes!  I also tend to write wherever I am (provided there are no people to bother me; dogs are ok). So my writing space is the WORLD.

Well, that's all of them. I hope you enjoyed. Let me know something interesting about your writing process in the comments. And tell me if you're participating in NaNo or Beautiful Books!

My current word total is: 38,085 (with plenty of time to spare!)

-Jaime

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson--Book Review

In Melanie Dickerson's later fairy tale re-telling, The Golden Braid, Rapunzel is on her way to Hagenheim with her mother, Gothel, after a village farmer proposed to her. All her life, her mother told her to be wary of men--that they would only hurt her. She's learned to throw knives to protect herself, so when they are attacked on the road, she does her best to save her mother. But they still need rescued from a local knight, Sir Gerek. This encounter thrusts Rapunzel into a high-stakes adventure full of love, learning to read, and dark secrets.

My first reaction upon finishing this book was mixed. On one side, I thought it was a decent re-telling with some interesting points. First off, Rapunzel can throw knives. Knives, people. She isn't afraid to defend herself or the ones she loves. Plus, her desire to read is touching. She also likes to paint and sing, which give her character fuller development.

The setting, of course, is lovely as ever. The details, the dialogue, the actions, they all fit into the medieval-esque world seen in Dickerson's other novels. This was the strongest development for the novel. The story also closely connects with the other re-tellings as well, specifically the events in The Princess Spy (book five). I would advise reading her others books before dipping your toes into this story.

However, I couldn't look past some of the obvious flaws as I read. Some of the plot fell into place too easily. I would have liked more build-up for Rapunzel being the lost princess (since it's such an obvious reveal if anyone knows the Rapunzel story-line in any form). There are a few cliche moments scattered throughout, such as the "beauty at first sight" moment even when she's covered in dirt, blood, and sweat. A lot of writing is bogged down by Rapunzel's thought processes instead of her doing something. She spends a lot of time avoiding asking the important questions.

Overall, this is an enjoyable and decent re-telling of a beloved story. Sure, I still think I'll choose the Disney version as my favorite still, but this one does a decent job (especially without magic). I'd definitely recommend it for middle grade and early high school students (it is YA after all) and anyone who'd enjoy a simple tale of love, adventure, and danger.

And hey, it's a fairy tale! It's allowed to fall into place easily.

-Jaime

I received this book for free through BookLook from Thomas Nelson publishing to give my open and honest opinion of the story, nothing more and nothing less.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Dear NaNoWriMo 2015

It's currently 12:27AM (according to my computer). Or it's 11:27, depending on time change (though my good friend told me time doesn't change until 2AM so technically I've legally begun).

Yet, I haven't written anything. No words. No thoughts. Nothing. Heck, I didn't even write the title or my name anywhere yet.

It's daunting, starting a novel. It's a task not easily accomplished. And for some reason, the excitement level to write this novel isn't high. Sure, I love my characters, I adore the story line, I drool over the world I've developed, but I'm not itching to write. I'm not itching to do anything (except maybe itch my kneecap from talking about itching).

So I feel like I've failed already. And I hate failure. Perfectionist that I am. I want to win. I want to batter through the skeptical beginnings, swoop through the middle, and run the home stretch full-force to stand atop the mountain of a manuscript, bloody, sweaty, but smiling fully. I want to hit 50K and the chapter of November 2015 with delight.

But I feel tired. I feel drained. And I'm worried I will fail. Already a half-hour of my time has been lost by this procrastination. Already, I feel the burden gaining heaviness upon my pen. Can I do it?

Between school, work, papers, projects, and many other things, I don't know if I can. I've done it in the past. But those years I've had a clear idea, a clear spark of what I wanted to write. How I wanted the story to unfold.

But for this story, I've got a handful of unknown characters and a tangled web of a plot holding it all together. It's thin; it's wobbly; it's stretched. It's hanging on by a thread of a though birthed long ago. The spark feels dull, faded, almost extinguished. How can I possibly write this novel? Or any the other dim thoughts in my brain? Where is the one thought jumping up and down in excitement and anticipation?

Since my brain feels like goo slathered across the floor, I want to start the novel in the morning. I'd like to think I could get up and write, hit a few hundred words before breakfast. But I've come to understand that is not how my process works. Nighttime feeds my creative juices. Half-asleep, I stumble through worlds, encountering creatures and characters. People tell me my writing is good--when it's a first draft, on the spot, struck with inspiration. I don't know how it works, but I'm counting on it helping me with this story.

I don't want to abandon it before I've begun. But I don't want to fail. My inner editor wants to claw its way through, to nitpick the beginning I've written in my mind. But then it will win and it'll come crawling through into my writing. So instead, I'm to push it back into the dark corners of my writing soul and I'm going to start with the first line of NaNoWriMo, the beginning:

"Arthur Benedict Williams was a very special boy."

-Jaime

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Fangirl Initiative Autumn Mission: Challenge Accepted

This week, the website I write for, The Fangirl Initiative, issued another reading mission: Fall into a Good Books The challenge is shorter, only ten prompts, but the prompts are just as fun. I plan to try to complete six of the ten (as required to succeed), but I hope I can find time for all ten! The challenge runs until November 27th, so you should definitely think about joining!


Here's my potential reading list for the next month. Since I'm still in school, I'm going to try to use the books I have to read for the list. We'll see. I've already completed one.

1. Read something spooky: horror, Gothic, paranormal.

I read Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson for my Mary Shelley class. It was definitely in the realm of... spooky. I enjoyed it immensely.

2. Read something pumpkin related. (A book about pumpkins, a book with a pumpkin on the cover, a book the color of a pumpkin, anything.)

This one has me stumped. I don't know of any books off the top of my head about pumpkins or even with pumpkins on the cover. I'm up for suggestions, but I'll probably figure something out. Or skip it.

3. Read something with less than 300 pages.

I've got multiple books I could pick for this one:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard

4. Read something with a place in the title.

To be funny I want to say A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid (for school). But I might find something else that actually fulfills the prompt.

5. Read a book about sisters.

Does Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography count?
(I'm sure I'll find some book to work for this. I just haven't specifically picked on yet.)

6. Re-read a favorite book. The first Saturday in November is dedicated to Book Lover’s Day.

Well. I've got plenty to choose from. I'll have to look through my list(s) of favorites to pick one! I might pick one of the Narnia books because it's been a while since I read it.

7. Read a children’s book. The third week of November is dedicated to National Children’s Book Week. Bonus points if you read with a child.

I've got plenty of books to choose from. Plus, my nephew is around a lot, so I'm sure I'll get to read to him. I'd like to read Crankenstein to him, especially if he's crank (get it?).

8. Read a book with magic in it. 

Among Others by Jo Walton. This author is visiting my school in November. I'd love to read her book before she comes. It contains magic. And it won the Hugo Award and an bunch of other awards.

9. Read a book you’re thankful for.Read a book and thank it (or even its author?) for existing.

Again, I've got plenty of books to choose from for this one. Though, I'm thankful for every book.

10. Read a book related to fairy tales.

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson.

So while I don't have every single book picked out, I've got a wide selection. Since NaNoWriMo is coming, along with the end of the semester (which means papers, projects, and more), it might be a real challenge to read six books. But I'm determined to try it!

Let me know if you're participating or if you've got recommendations for any of the categories.

-Jaime.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Not By Sight by Kate Breslin--Book Review

Synopsis:
Not by Sight by Kate Breslin follows Grace Mabry, a spunk suffragette in England during WWI, who is willing to do whatever it takes to help her country. However, there are plenty of people doing nothing help the country—such as Jack Benningham, a handsome, rich, able-bodied man who would rather swoon young ladies and party his life away. Or so Grace thinks when she gives him a white feather of cowardice at a masquerade. Then she joins the Women’s Forage Corps to help out and finds Jack Benningham holed up in a mansion, scarred and blinded from a fire accident. Soon her view on Jack, the war, and herself begin to change.

My Thoughts:
Here’s my thing with this book. I have confidence it’s good. I have confidence it’s great even. It just starts off slow. Too slow for my tastes, I must say.
I didn’t finish this book. I didn’t find anything to keep my going. This isn’t to say someone else out there couldn’t find something intriguing in it. I thought the synopsis was intriguing when I first picked it up. I wanted to see Grace and Jack interact in high society during the early 20th century like the back cover synopsis and cover photo suggest.
But that didn’t happen. The white feather, the masquerade ball, everything the book suggests from the start is over by chapter two. Then, the characters are off in the country of England doing things that aren’t interesting.
Grace’s character didn’t catch me as anything special either. If anything, I found her annoying, whiny even. She doesn’t seem to be heroic at all (maybe she changes by the end). When she finally interacts with Jack, I felt their scenes were stiff and boring. They go on long drives, they ask each other boring questions. I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to scream at all the characters, including the other ladies of the Women's Forage Corps.
I couldn’t find reason to keep reading this book. I hope, maybe, someday I’ll give it another chance. It might have potential (there are hints of undercover spy stuff) but after 158 pages of dull conversation and no sign of the plot thickening, I must give it up.
I think people who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a side of romance will probably enjoy this book more than I did. They might even enjoy it enough to finish it. I’m just not the right audience for this tale.

You can read an excerpt here to find out for yourself.

-Jaime

I received this book free from Bethany House for my open and honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Beautiful Books: October 2015

For the next few months, Beautiful People is on hiatus in order to introduce Beautiful Books. Essentially, Beautiful Books is the same concept as Beautiful People except we answer questions about our book(s), especially in preparation for November's National Novel Writing Month escapade (or NanoWriMo).

Check out this link for more information about Beautiful Books and to join the link-up!  :)



1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I was working in a library three years ago, and as I shelved books (or shelf read), I suddenly had the thought of someone sweeping his/her hands over the spines of books and being able to "sense" the magic books held. The basis of the story, a boy with dyslexia, came when I had to write a short story for my fiction writing class. I wasn't "allowed" to write fantasy, so I took out the fantasy and wrote about a boy with dyslexia desiring to read.

But I knew there was much more to this story. I knew my main character was much more special than a boy learning to read (and learning to love reading). I knew the library was much bigger than your average community center.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?
I've been thinking about this novel for a while now. I wanted to write it for NaNo last year, but my plans changed (I even answered questions about it for Beautiful Books last year before I switched up my idea). I also think the concept is something needed in the world. I want children, dyslexic or not, to come to love reading as much as I do. I want them to experience the magic and wonder books have to offer. I think this story will do that.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?
My novel is about a dyslexic boy, Arthur, who learns he has a rare gift when it comes to books: he can hear them talking. He soon learns there's a secret society that protects the library system, and he's one of them. Because of his rare gifts, he's known as an Inkling in this secret society. But the Secret Library Society is failing. Their enemies are to numerous and are crowding in. Arthur soon finds himself on a whirlwind adventure to save libraries, something only he, as an Inkling, can do.

The potential title(s) are: The Inkling, or The Secret Library Society (or a combination). I haven't quite decided. If ideas for more stories related to the SLS come about, I could call them the chronicles of the Secret Library Society with The Inkling as one title.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

Arthur: brave

Samantha, or Sam: dreamy


Unnamed Book Page character (I know, I know, the idea is so developed): loyal


The Library Director: mysterious



There are, of course, more characters that come in and out of the story. But right now, these are the most important and most developed. I'm a pantser/gardener writer, so many things may happen over the course of this next month.

5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!
I know Arthur has a special place in my heart. He's got a tough life and being unable to read only adds to his problems. But he's smart and adorable, so I think he'll be fun to get to know deeper. I'm excited to write about Sam because she's still kind of mysterious to me still. The unknown/unnamed characters will be fun to see develop as well. I've got "glimpses" of characters and how they work in the story but nothing is solid yet.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
At first, Arthur's goal is to learn to read. His dyslexia and trouble concentrating hinder him; other children at school bully him; and problems at home tend to dampen his spirits. However, he soon learns there's much more at stake than simply learning to read, so his goals change throughout the story to match the SLS's creeds and then his own approach to protecting the Library and the magic of books. (In the latter goals, enemies of the Library of all kinds get in his way.)

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)
Mainly in a library. XD It's going to be set in the 1950s-ish with possibly time-jumps here and there, depending on how the story goes. The story will go in and out of our world, such as Arthur's hometown library/school/home and the SLS world. There's possibilities of going inside stories as well.

 


8. What is the most important relationship your character has?
Arthur has a lot of relationships that keep the story intact, but his relationship with Sam is vital to the story and becomes special as the story progresses.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
He learns to read and to love books. He learns the importance of stories and the magic of books. And he learns about life and death and saying goodbye.

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
I definitely want people to understand the magic books hold. I want there to be a special connection to reading and the joy of reading with the reader by the end.

NaNoWriMo BONUS: Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
1. Write. Just write without stopping. Write until your fingers hurt. Write until you've got the story down in some shape or form. Don't stop.

2. Find time to write. This is serious business, writing a book (dangerous, too). You open the door and you don't know where you might be swept off too. Cut something out of your life for one month in order to find time. Swear off twitter or netflix or pinterest, if you must. Set timers for yourself so that you didn't just waste an hour "researching."

3. Take breaks. Write for a while but give yourself time to relax and breathe. Do word wars with people in order to feel like you've accomplished something. But then take a breather: eat a snack, take a walk, get up and stretch, allow yourself a moment. Then dive right back in. (Oh, do your homework too.)

That's it, I guess. Let me know if you've participated this month and whether you're doing NaNoWriMo. (You can find me here.) I'd love to hear about your novel!

-Jaime

Friday, September 18, 2015

Beautiful People: September 2015

Oh, look. I forgot about Beautiful People again until the half of the month has passed. I should just make it my routine to complete it midpoint of the month, eh?


So what is Beautiful People? It's a link-up hosted by Sky @ Further Up and Further In and Cait @ Paper Fury for writers. It's a list of questions to answer about characters we've created to get to know them a little more and to introduce them to the world.

I've done Beautiful People for over a year now (*cheers*). This month I'm going to highlight Fitz from my dragon story, A Girl and Her Dragon. He's been introduced on my blog before but through a different reading meme so I think it's about time he gets to have the spotlight.


1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?
I would have thought his go-to answer would be his mentor, Tiberius, but surprisingly, he'd like to see Killian when he's in a pinch. He knows Killian is smart and will help him out.

2. Are they easy to get along with?
Yes. Although he's quiet, he has no trouble with other people. He doesn't easily argue and he's pretty level-headed. Plus, his intelligence allows for him to enter any conversation.

3. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with?
Surprisingly, Killian again. He doesn't much like to discuss deep, personal things with Tiberius. Something about it feels off. So he defaults to someone else close to him, his only options being Killian or later Brielle.

4. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?
Slightly overwhelmed. He would much prefer the isolation of the library with the freedom to read and study. However, he's not so overwhelmed he panics. He keeps his chin up and gets through the overwhelming feelings.

5. Do they believe in luck or miracles?
No, not at first. He's starting to wonder if miracles could be real.


6. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
Since his "neighbors" are the royal family of Greene, I would say for the most part yes. He has his own opinions of certain actions of the royal family, but he does get along with them and respects them.

7. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
He's curious about the unexplored territories to the east and north, but stories of the far west, beyond the Sea, captivate him as well. In general, he fears becoming stuck to one place for the rest of his life like Tiberius.

8. How do they feel about their body?
He doesn't think much of it. He could hardly care unless it wasn't functioning properly. There are too many other things for him to worry over.

9. What is the cruelest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Since he doesn't interact with many people, the cruel things come from his own head. He tells himself he's worthless because he has no parents, no family, no choice in his future, no friends. He lives with the thoughts but he hopes something will change.

10. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?
Tiberius told him once that he believes Fitz is more intelligent than Tiberius ever will be. Fitz felt appalled because he could never imagine being greater than Tiberius.


Did you participate in Beautiful People this month? I'd love to read about your characters. Let me know if you did or if you're going to!

-Jaime

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Tale of the Slimy Frog

The Shrews of Shreve picnicked upon the grassy hills of their nookie knoll. A river of tarps ran with water and soap, dumping children and inflatables into a dirty creek dam. The day was warm with blue skies of water and drifts of chalk-drawn clouds. The bullfrogs bulled and hippity-hoppity hopped from one end of the small pond to the other. A snake slithered between the cool rocky sides, playing hide n seek with toes and the hands of frog catchers. One lone frog drifts aimlessly through the scum, sprawled out. Frog legs and all. A dragonfly commandeers its domain by circling the pond plants in a graceful path. The goats bleat over and over, crying out their confusion and hunger and desire for attention. They match the horse, who stands surrounded by girlish faces and reaching hands.

Hands grow covered with colorful streaks as sweet candy melts in dampness. Fire crackles, hot dogs cook, and a red welt pushes to the top of forehead bumped against metal. A slimy frog harasses the frog pond, catching frogs and terrorizing tadpoles. He slips down the blue river slide and splashes across the creek to the other side. Toting a fashionable pink inflatable, he breaks distance records. Bumps and mud spring from the ground as water splooshes over the bone-chilling water.

The slimy frog goes in for the kill and wraps his thick arms around an unsuspecting victim. Squeezed between two slimy frogs, the victim fights back and squirms for freedom. The slimy frog lays a wet smacker on the victim’s neck and released. Devious grin puffs the frog’s puckered lips.

The edu-ma-cated celebrates
With guests, goats, and food galore
Frogs bellow their congrats.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Blackout

You never really appreciate electricity and modern conveniences until something stirs your way of life. Take for instance, an evening blackout. Half a city without power, the other half with power. The sudden contrast sweeps you up as you drive from one end of town to the next. One minute, you pass by startling lights from yellow arches and golden bells; from gas stations and bars with open doors, spilling out light, music, and laughter. The streetlights even beckon a familiar warmth that suddenly drops you into the dead gloom of night.

Los Angeles

No streetlights to guide you down the familiar road which has suddenly become mysterious, alien, eerie. Maybe you’ve driven this path a hundred thousand times, once a day, even at night, but without lights from the cozy homes lining the asphalt and the overhead beacons shining down on the sidewalk, you feel oddly out of the zone.

It's only the headlights of another car in the back window that reminds you that you are not alone in the world.

The darkness is still. It’s quiet. No rowdy children playing, no TVs flashing through open curtains. Only the sounds of nature. Only the stars, the darkness, and a rekindling of humankind and the earth.
It makes you wonder if this is how dark it felt back with Laura Ingalls traveled across the country in a covered wagon with her family. Or was it darker because they didn’t have streets to follow or the shadow of homes waiting around the bend? Because despite the dark street corners, the emptiness of the houses you drive by, and the sense you’ve returned to a world that once was, there’s still light on the horizon. There’s light from the city ten minutes away where it still blazes like the day. There’s still light from the headlights, the light on your car clock, the solar lights in front yards, flashlights and cell phones.

Tokyo

Oh, the cell phones. Where you can still access the internet and tweet about not having Netflix or not being able to communicate with your friends, when all the modern conveniences are at your fingertips without any power from the city around you. Where you can get online and discuss the blackout without leaving your home or speaking to your neighbor. Where the blackout doesn’t really matter that much because you can still be social, you can still order pizza, you can still watch your favorite TV show with the press of a few buttons and the light of a bright screen.

Because just as you drive through the dark, feeling nostalgic for times you never lived in, the lights return. Not morning’s light. Not moonlight through the clouds to light up the world in a silver glow. But the regular old, take-it-for-granted electricity you thought for a moment you could live without. But you simply sit in your homes with the air conditioning set high, the lights all aglow and the wi-fi turned on and you forget what you had lost moments ago. You forget you never had light.

And you wonder could you ever survive without it? Could the world?

Are we ever really in darkness?

San Francisco
-Jaime

Photos from Thierry Cohen's "Darkened Skies" series, which recaptures how big city skies would appear without lights. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

TFI Summer Reading Challenge: Mission Complete

August has ended. Classes started this week, I said goodbye to my summer job for the last time, and my freedom to read what I wish has slipped away. But I didn’t waste my summer. I read. Oh, I read. Lots of books, lots of comics, lots of picture books to my new little nephew.


I participated in TWO reading challenges this summer (in addition to my year long one, which is coming along). One was through The Fangirl Initiative: the Summer Reading Mission. This encompassed any books I read throughout the challenge. The other was an August frenzy challenge. The goal was simply to read as many pages as we could. However, there were a few challenges to complete as well. I almost finished two of the challenges.
For TFI’s Summer Reading Mission we could only complete one of the prompts per book. I couldn’t use Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore for both “a color in the title” and “a book over 400 pages.” I had to choose one, which made the challenge a tad more difficult. For the August challenge, we could apply as many prompts per book as we wanted. Thus, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale helped be complete four or five of the challenge prompts.
It was fun to participate in both. I enjoyed the books I read, the comic arcs I dove into, and the thrill of finishing the challenges. This has been a very bookish summer. And I hope this fall and beyond continue this trend.

Here are the books I completed for The Fangirl Initiative: Summer Reading Mission (with prompts):

1. Written by an author with your first name (or the same first or last initial as you.)
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Completed: June 30
2. With a color in the title.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Completed: August 6
3. That's been sitting on your shelf for more than a year.
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Completed: August 13
4. That is historical fiction.
The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews
Completed: June 17 (see my review of it here).
5. You picked for the cover.
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Completed: July 10

Listen, Slowly by
Completed: July 21
6. That's first in a series.
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Completed: July 23
7. Involving time travel.
Soccer on Sunday (Magic Tree House #52) by Mary Pope Osborne
Completed: July 18
8. Featuring a love triangle.
This may be cheating but...
The entire Marvel Civil War story arc. Let's just go with it's one big love triangle between all superheroes and Ironman and Captain America. Brilliant really.
Completed: August
9. Set in the future.
Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa T. Bergren
Completed: May 10 (see my review of books 1 and 2 here)
10. With more than 400 pages.
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Completed: August 24
11. Narrated by a guy.
The Curse of the King by Peter Lerangis
Completed: July 1
12. Retelling a fairy tale.
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson
Completed: August 3
13. That is a classic.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Completed: August 4
14. Outside your usual favorite genres.
Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano
Completed: May 31  (read my review here)
London Tides by Carla Laureano
Completed: June 4 (read my review here)
15. Recommended by a friend or fellow fangirl!
The Neverending Story by Michael Dende
Completed: June 26

Here are the books I completed for the August challenges (with prompts for each challenge):

1. Read a book with a book on the cover. 
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. Read a book with something shiny on the cover.
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
3. Read a book with a character name in the title:
Sapphique by Cather Fisher
4. Read a book your mom/dad/Important-Family-Figure loves:
Little House Books (I think?) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
5. Pick a number, go to the library, find a shelf, and count from one end and get the book the number lands on:
I have the book but didn't get to read it :(
6. Read a book that you almost forgot was even on your shelf :
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
7. Read a book you never finished in another readathon (If you haven’t done a marathon before, do this for any book you’ve been meaning to read but keep putting off) :
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
8. Read a classic:
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
9. Read a sequel: 
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
10. Go into a book without reading the synopsis:
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
11. Read a book you can finish in a day:
Marvel's Civil War comics
12. Read that book your friends been threatening you to read for ages:
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
13. C’mon. It’s summer. Read a romance. Classic or not, just do it.:
The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson
14. Read a book by an author you’ve never read:
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
15. Pick out a book at the library just because of the cover (You’re welcome to read the back afterwards to make sure that it’s not an amish wearwolf romance):
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
--
“Mega challenge”
1. Read a book over 400 pages: 
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
2. Read a whole series (can be duology or trilogy, but it must be started and finished this month): 
The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
3. Read a book set where you live.: 
USA? The Little House Books XD
4. Pick out a two or three books where the titles make a sentence (Thanks to my mom for this one!):
The Long Winter By the Banks of Plum Creek (sort of a sentence?)
5. ‪#‎throwback‬‬‬‬! Re-read a book you read in the last marathon or read the sequel or book by same author. (If you haven’t done a marathon before, do this for any book you read last summer):
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher (I read book one, Incarceron, for TFI Summer Reading Mission).

Overall, I think I had a memorable reading summer. I read thirty-six novels (including all of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder), seventy-four comics (including the entirety of Marvel’s Civil War story arc and side stories), and multiple picture books or children’s chapter books.


Did you have a productive reading summer? What was your favorite summer read?

Jaime

Friday, August 28, 2015

Curious Wren Bookish Party Tag

Through a few friends' blogs I've learned of a new blog that launched this week: Curious Wren. You all should go check it out because Annie sounds like a fun and wonderful person. I think we'd get along great!
Part of her launch includes guest posts on other blogs, a giveaway, and a blog tag, the Bookish Party Tag. Anybody can answer the blog tag questions for fun (if you don't have a blog, you can answer them in the comments on her post). I think Annie, her blog, and these questions are fun, so I decided to answer them!

1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
The last book I finished (because I'm reading multiple books) was These Happy Golden Years, the eighth book in the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I would definitely recommend it. I love these books; they're dear to my heart. I used to read them over and over again when I was younger. I wanted to be Laura and to travel West on the open plains. I love her spirit, her adventures, and her love for the world.

I know these books aren't for everybody though, but I can't help but fall in love with the stories all over again as I re-read them.

2. Describe the perfect reading spot.
I've always imagined a window seat nook would make a lovely spot to read. Fresh with plump pillows, maybe a blanket, and a place to set a drink... sounds nice. Plus, I'd be able to glance out the window at the sun, rain, snow...

I also think a nice crook in a tree would be fun to read in, out in the menagerie of the world. But I don't know if tree-sitting is comfortable for long-term reading.

3. Favorite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?
Since I don't like coffee and I've never had tea (come on, I want to try it for the first time in Britain!), I'll go with hot chocolate. :) But even water works if I'm feeling parched from the parchment (ha!).

Tears of my readers would be fun to try as well...

4. Share favorite quotes from four books.
"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo." -Smaug, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
"Courage, dear heart."-Aslan, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
"Even those alive can still be dead." -Mortal by Ted Dekker
"It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart." -Finnick, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?
Fantasy: The Chronicles of Narnia
Dystopia: So many as of recent, but Incarceron was too beautiful for words
Contemporary: Hmm...
Sci-fi: The Lunar Chronicles for sure
Classic: I adore Peter Pan, but I love the Little House books too.

6. List three authors you’ve collected the most books from.
Lisa T. Bergren (18ish--do multiple copies of the same book count?)
Ted Dekker (20+)
Lewis or Tolkien (it's probably a tie if you count the Narnia books separate: 9ish each).

7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature?
I firmly believe it's necessary for life. I should write a post about it sometime. We need fantasy and elements of magic. Literature is magic after all.

8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.
Something pretty but mysterious. Gorgeous symbols, designs, objects. I hate books with people on them, drawn or photographs. Silhouettes or faraway shots are ok but up close ones where I can see details irk me. Here's a few favorite covers I've drooled swooned over:

Recently, I got a copy of this Peter Pan (below). There's a whole series of "chalkboard" cover classics. I love the look of it. 

9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.
When I first read this question, I thought of Lucy Pevensie. She was one of my first literary friends. She's a sweet, courageous girl. She believes in Narnia and Aslan despite what everyone else thinks. I hope I'm as strong, brave, and smart as Lucy.

Since finishing answering the question, I also thought of Laura Ingalls (hmmm, I wonder why) and Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief.

10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?
They are very important to me, but I do let some people borrow them. I keep track of who has what book and how long they have it, so I know I'll get it back. However, I do get upset when they come back worn... or damaged. I lend because I want other people to enjoy the wonders I've found between the pages.

You should think about answering these bookish questions. Let me know if you decide to do it so I can read your answers. And don't forget to stop by Curious Wren for the awesome blog launch fun and giveaway!

-Jaime

Friday, August 21, 2015

Beautiful People: August 2015

It seems every month begins and I eagerly await the revealing of Beautiful People questions only to find myself more than half way through the month without completing said character questionnaires. Why me?


Well, I've finally remembered to answer the questions and put the post together, so here we are: Beautiful People August 2015. Since the beginning of August was Friendship Day, all the questions are best friendship related. And I happen to love strong, bonding friendships between my characters, so it's been a hard decision on which friendships to highlight soo...

I'm going to be the crazy person who does more than one pairing. So get ready for a lot of emotions about best friends, brothers via bond, brotps, etc.



How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
Since birth, well Killian's birth. Gilbert was three when Killian was born. They've been by each other's sides ever since. They're closer than brothers (though they are cousins). The only time they've been apart was when Gilbert left to complete his knight training.
What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?
Killian remembers Gilbert sneaking into his room at night in order to "protect" him from the monsters under the bed. Gilbert remembers Killian getting them both in trouble for climbing over the sheep pen and getting stampeded by the ewes.
Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?
Sometimes they do fight because of butting personalities and opposite opinions. But after a day or two, they get over themselves and make up.
Are their personalities similar or do they compliment each other?
They're definitely different. Gilbert keeps Killian in check while Killian makes sure Gilbert livens up a little.
Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?
Both are equal, depending on the situation.
Do have any secrets from each other?
Yes, they both have secrets.
How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?
Better than they know themselves.
What kind of things do they like to do together?
Fencing, horseback riding, getting into trouble, going to the market, reading in the library.
Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different/similar?
They're very different. Gilbert is usually clean-shaven, smooth and properly fitted garbs, shiny boots, not one hair on his head out of place. Killian's clothes look like they should be falling apart, usually dirty, unruly hair, stubble on his cheeks.
How would their lives be different without each other?
Gilbert wouldn't have a job looking out for the crown prince and Killian wouldn't have the support and loyalty of Gilbert.



How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
They've known each other since they were six years old, when Emmett's family joined the starship crew Leezander's father worked for.
What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?
Emmett walked right up to Leezander and said, "Let's be friends."
Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?
It's rare they fight. They disagree on opinions, but it doesn't drive them apart. Both can be calm in their arguments.
Are their personalities similar or do they compliment each other?
They are wildly different in some areas but similar in others. Think Sherlock and Watson from BBC's Sherlock, only in outer space.
Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?
Leezander for sure. Emmett vows he'd follow Zander to the ends of the galaxy, if he had to.
Do have any secrets from each other?
Plenty. But they do try to tell each other the truth.
How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?
Well enough, though Emmett is still surprised by Leezander's perception skills.
What kind of things do they like to do together?
Hijack space pods, hack into starship computers, oh... and try to battle evil military officers.
Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different/similar?
Leezander keeps his style simple and in dark shades. He's not one for showy or extravagant styles. He likes to keep a low profile. Emmett is always in his academy uniform or engineer clothes. Covered in grease or clean as new.
How would their lives be different without each other?
Emmett certainly wouldn't find himself in the middle of so much trouble or so many adventures. Leezander would get a big head.



How long have they known each other, and how close are they?
They've known each other since forever. When they were young, they were two peas on a pod. After Juliet moved back to Port Blue, they slowly regained their friendship.
What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?
Juliet remembers playing jungle adventure in Adam's kitchen. Adam remembers playing on the beach for hours on end, the endless summer.
Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?
They don't usually fight. Only once did Juliet get mad at him and it was a big misunderstanding that was quickly resolved after a few hours.
Are their personalities similar or do they compliment each other?
They're both similar and different. They've got a lot in common with each other, but Juliet is more outgoing. Adam is definitely shy and introverted.
Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?
They're both equal. Adam usually is the one dragging Juliet off on adventures, though.
Do have any secrets from each other?
Oh, yes. Adam has a big secret he's keeping from her. ;)
How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?
Pretty well.
What kind of things do they like to do together?
Run around the beach, fishing, sailing, stargazing, adventures in every shape and size.
Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different/similar?
Adam is usually seen without shoes, wearing shorts and a plain colored t-shirt. If he must, he will wear sneakers and jeans. Juliet wears similar attire: shorts with a t-shirt but she’s usually wearing sneakers. She does admire vintage clothes and wishes she was brave enough to wear that style all the time.
How would their lives be different without each other?
For about ten years they lived without each when Juliet’s family moved to Alaska. Adam was pretty lost without her. He didn’t make a whole lot of friends until she came back. Juliet, however, got along fine. But when they rekindle their friendship, they both agree that whether they could live without each other didn’t matter: they don’t choose to live without each other. Juliet’s life wouldn’t be quite so adventure-driven, sensitive aware, or imaginative. Adam would probably lose part of his soul without Juliet. 


Whew! We survived. Find the questions and link-up here. Are you participating? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear about your characters' friendships.

-Jaime
P.S. I apologize for not writing as much on the blog as of late. Somehow summer has been crazy busy, but I hope I'll find some things to post soon. Find me over at The Fangirl Initiative posting about fandoms, fangirls, and everything in between. :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Diary of a Jackwagon by Tim Hawkins--Book Review

Better known for his stand-up comedy shows, Tim Hawkins continues his laughs through his book: Diary of a Jackwagon. He states in the introduction that this book is “random pieces of my comedy journal over the past twenty years. And when I say random, I mean I didn’t even take the time to arrange the entries in chronological order. You’re welcome.” This is exactly what this book is: a collection of Tim Hawkins journal entries, which shaped his comedic routine.

While I’ve heard of Tim Hawkins and seen some of his comedy on youtube or DVD, I’m not super familiar with every comedic line to come out of his mouth. Thus, I don’t know how much is similar between his book and his live shows.

But I do have to say, this book was hilarious. I usually ended up reading it in public settings and was almost in tears from holding in the laughter that demanded to come out. I’m not one to usually outward react to my reading (it’s hard for me to physically cry over books or throw it across the room). But this book had me snorting under my breath.

 Each chapter has some kind of topic yet there’s always a surprise. From marriage to parenting to crazy stories from his childhood and crazy stories from the other day, this book bumps from everything and anything related to life and living.

It’s easy to read; his style is like he’s sitting across the table talking to you. Most of the chapters are fairly short, which is perfect if you’ve only got a few minutes but you need a good laugh.

Overall, if you like good clean comedy or you’re a fan of Tim Hawkins, this book is for you. I’ll definitely be recommending it. Or you know you could sit and glare at the wall instead. You’re move.



-Jaime
I received this book for free through BookLook from Thomas Nelson publishing to give my open and honest opinion of the story, nothing more and nothing less.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beautiful People July 2015

It's summer. The air is warm, the sun is shining... oh wait! No, it's not. It's raining. Again. But still, rain or shine, it's summer.

But it's been July for twenty-four days and I have yet to complete Beautiful People, so here I am to answer questions about my characters. Since it's summer, I've been thinking a lot about a story I finished a few years ago (three years, it's been three years). Couple that with listening to my old Owl City CDs, and my mind has definitely wandered back to the story I started in the back of eleventh grade math class and finished right after graduating high school. 


It's called Sailboats and Stars (for now) and it's the adventures of two dreamers. Everything in it was inspired by the works of Adam Young (or if you know him better by Owl City). It's kind of a different genre for me--and possibly for the literary world. It's definitely has YA and romance in it, but it's not fully that. It's somewhat coming of age, but it's mainly just the adventures of two people. Sometimes I think it fits better under the genre of "Slice of Life," which is something popular in Japanese anime. "Slice of Life" doesn't always have a notable plot, but instead, it focuses on daily life of a few characters in a particular setting.


Anyways, I've introduced my two stars (see what I did there) once before through other character oriented blog posts. But I knew when I looked over the questions I couldn't just pick one of them; this story only works because of both of them. So I'm going to answer the questions for both Adam Byrd and Juliet Ford. Come join us on a dreamy adventure!


1. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour?
Adam: Vanilla because, according to Juliet, he's boring. :D
Juliet: Double Fudge Brownie because you can never have to much chocolate.

2. Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where are they going? What are they wearing? Who will they be with?
Adam: Out? Adam doesn't go out. Just kidding. If he's off for an adventure, he's dragging Juliet with him. He probably wouldn't dress up in anything fancy unless it was a formal event (and then he probably wouldn't be going). He'd probably where khaki shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops. As to where he could be going? Anything is possible.

Juliet: If it's something formal, she might make an effort, but it's doubtful. Most likely if she's going anywhere it's with Adam or her family. She'd probably just wear jeans and a t-shirt or plaid shirt with her Converse. If it's with Adam, she never knows where they could be off to. If it's with her family, it'll be out to eat and maybe to a movie.

3. Look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. Do they wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Are they in socks that are ratty and full of holes? What do they consider comfortable and what do they consider agony?
Adam: His feet are most likely bare and tanned from the sun. If he has to wear shoes, he'll wear plain black flip-flops if it's warm or ratty sneakers he's had forever. He hates dress shoes.

Juliet: She's probably wearing her worn yet still nice pairs of Converse, even if she's on the beach. Her socks come in various colors and types, usually never matching. She hates anything with a heel and she's not fond of flip-flops because they hurt her toes.


4. Do they have any birthmark or scars? Where are they and how did they get them?
Adam: He has a scar over his eyebrow from when he fell off his bike when he was nine.

Juliet: She has a birthmark on her right shoulder.

5. What kind of music do they listen to? Does it change depending on their mood or is it always consistent? (Feel free to share samples!)
Adam: He listens to a wide variety of music, pretty much anything that comes on the radio. He specifically likes instrumental music.

Juliet: She's a fan of pop, indie, and alternative. It changes depending on how she feels.


6. Do they have any musical talent? Play an instrument? How’s their singing voice?
Adam: He can sing fairly well. He's dabbled with piano, guitar, and saxophone but nothing has stuck. He'd rather write than sing.

Juliet: Her singing voice can get by in groups, but she's loves playing piano.

7. What kind of book would you catch them reading?
Adam: He reads mainly fantasy and sci-fi.

Juliet: She reads anything that comes her way.

8. How would they spend their summers (or their holidays)?
Adam: He spends his summers running all over Port Blue (their town). He especially likes to go sailing in his sailboat. He's always out of the house and near the water.

Juliet: She'd prefer to spend her summer reading nice, thick books. However, that doesn't always happen. She spends her time on the beach, searching for Adam's whereabouts, and chasing after her younger brother. She loves to go stargazing as well.


9. It’s Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. Ex. If they’re eating breakfast, what’s on the menu? Are they hiking, shopping, lazing around?
Adam: He's probably eating outside somewhere, maybe on his boat or on the beach.

Juliet: If Adam has arrived to drag her out of the house, she's inside making lunch for her younger siblings and deciding what needs to get done that day (house work, cleaning room, painting, moving things in, etc.)

10. Is there anything your character wants to be free of?
Adam: He wants to be free of his grief.

Juliet: She wants to be free of her fear.



If you've participated, I'd love to read about your character(s) so let me know in the comments. Also, if you haven't: what are you waiting for??? You can find the complete list of questions for the month here. I'd love for you to join me. 

-Jaime