Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Subplots and Storylines - July 2015

July has been a string of hot, humid days punctuated by rainstorms. Stepping outside was like hitting a wall of muggy air most afternoons--the temperature has hovered around 30 degrees Celsius (that's close to 90 Fahrenheit, for all you Americans).

Pea season and strawberry season have come and gone. Fresh sugarsnaps just taste of summer, and a slice of pie stuffed with just-picked strawberries confirms that yes indeed, we are in the midst of summertime. And we can't forget those few meals that were strictly composed of watermelon and rohl kuchen. (That's a Mennonite/German dish . . . a deep-fried doughnut-y thing that looks like braided/twisted bread. It's absolutely delicious with watermelon.)

You'd think these hot days would ooze by slowly, but noooo. July galloped by nearly as fast as May and June. I won't inundate you with all the details, seeing as much of what filled my month was the same as last time (and the time before that): work, family time, gardening, general life activities, etc.

However, a few new things did happen this month.

My family and I celebrated Canada Day with friends. Snacks, fireworks, more glow sticks than I knew what to do with, and all-around fun times.

I wrote like crazy for my Sleeping Beauty novella--have I mentioned how desperately that thing is trying to grow into a novel??--and am currently at 17k. I hope to reach 20k in the next day or two, if I push hard. Not like that will signify the end of the story . . . The prince is just now on the cusp of going off to rescue the princess. Sound like a problem? It is. Even so, I've been having a delightful time unspooling this story, untangling threads and plaiting them into a design that will need some tweaking later not. Plus, Luci and Hadrian and Aleida and all the rest have completely captured my heart.

Recently, one of my dearest friends spent two and a half days at my place, during which time we enjoyed catching up, goofing off, watching both Captain America movies (her first time seeing them!), and bike riding out to a park to do a fun photo-shoot in the heavy July heat. Yes, we made sure to guzzle lots of water.

My two sisters took care of a friend's little dog for a week, so we saw lots of that adorable pooch here during that time. (Do you know how hard it is to put her in her kennel for night and have to leave her whimpering there? Do you? She's like a bratty child at bedtime, but how can you say no to that sad little whimper? My sisters had to drag me away.)

It was quiet on the reading front this month--only two novels. Now I know all you bookworms are gasping in horror right now, but in my defense, I was busy and one of the books was Pride and Prejudice.
This is my exact copy, picked up in perfect
condition at a book fair. For $3, that's a win,
wouldn't you say?
It took me almost three weeks to read, and every chapter felt like an accomplishment. Not that it was a bad book--not at all! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's just not the style I normally read, what with long sentences and heavy narration. But the cast of characters is a delight. Spunky Lizzie, kindhearted Jane, enigmatic Mr. Darcy (oh, my dear Mr. Darcy), indolent Mr. Bennet, frantically flighty Mrs. Bennet, adorable Mr. Bingley . . . Plus, the book is surprisingly witty. Can't go wrong with formal, wordy insults.

The second book is Plain Kate by Erin Bow.
On a whim, I picked it up at the library because the cover was pretty and the blurb interesting. The simple narrative style is deceiving, though. I was expecting the story to sit comfortably on the younger YA level, but the darker themes and sparsely poetic prose nudge it up a bit. Seriously, Ms. Bow knows how to paint a stunning picture. I'm in love with her style. And with Kate herself, an orphaned carpenter thought by the townsfolk to be a witch. Simultaneously gutsy and fearful, this plain-featured girl possesses remarkable skill with a knife. Her cat, Taggle, winds up talking (don't worry, that's not a spoiler), and very quickly chose a spot in my heart as well. He's just . . . very catty. If you've met Eanrin from Tales of Goldstone Wood, you'll understand what I mean; yet Taggle is still his own unique self. Just hear him speak:
"Hello," he said, then rolled over and peered up at her appealingly. "I am fond of you and present my throat for scratching."
Besides, he offers to kill things to make Kate feel better. HE IS SUCH A CAT. Anyway, I'm nearly finishedThis last quarter is raising all sorts of questions about the "villain." Such as, should I remove the quotations and consider him an actual villain, or is he merely a sympathetic antagonist?

Well, that about sums up July. Not as much to detail here this time around, which is why I went on and on about books. But that's a topic we all love, right? (And if you don't, I must question why you read blogs in the first place, especially the blog of a writer. Stick around and I'll convert you.)

How was your July? Do you have plans for August? I've got a few, one of them being to actually finish Sleeping Beauty's first draft, title it, and start editing it (a.k.a. chopping it into pieces with my Big Editing Axe). Do tell! I'm interested to hear how your summer's going. And since we were talking about food--quick, what's your favorite summer dish?


  1. lol I know, it's like a billion moist degrees out. XD But we have a beach day planned in a couple days, so that'll be fun! :D Just curious; what province are you from? I'm ON. X) You don't have to divulge that if you don't want to, of course. Anyway, Plain Kate sounds pretty cool! And ah, good ol' P&P. I read the book....sorta. I've seen the BBC miniseries sooo many times, and it sticks so closely to the book, that I kinda just skimmed the book. XD WHOOPS! I'm a bad bookworm. X)

    1. No kidding! XD Ooh, a day at the beach sounds like so much fun. Enjoy yourself! I don't know how specific I should be online, but I will say I'm from a Prairie province. :) You're from Ontario? For some reason, I had thought it was BC... :P
      Such a great book! You might enjoy it. ;) LOL, P&P IS a long book to read through. I haven't seen the BBC miniseries, but I did watch the 2005 movie. (And I've heard differing opinions on which one is better.)

    2. I'm getting a Manitoba vibe from you, but what do I know? I've never been there. XD hehe anyway, yeah, I've seen both the movie and the miniseries. I think the miniseries is better for two reasons: Fabulous acting/costumes/settings, and the fact that with a miniseries, they had time to integrate more things from the book. :)

    3. I can't confirm or deny that. XD I reeeeally need to see the miniseries sometime--it sounds fabulous. :D And yeah, I noticed when reading the book that some of the scenes had been meshed together for the movie.

  2. Okay, you're making me hungry, Tracey. Shame on you! :P All those things sound (and look) delicious!

    Wow, so it gets that hot for you, too? Our summer has been BRUTAL and I've basically just spent the whole summer complaining about how hot it is... The heat and I just don't agree. Blegh!

    GAH. I NEED MORE TIME TO READ YOUR SB STORY. *collapses* I haven't even gotten up to the parts with the prince yet and I've been so anxious to meet him! I'm ALMOST done with Burning Thorns and once that happens I'm so delving back into your story. It'll be a happy reward!

    I absolutely understand the dog thing. When I got my little poodle the original plan was for her to sleep in a crate. Guess how long that lasted? Haha. Somehow she ended up in my bed and here 8 years later she still sleeps with me. I'm a pushover, what can I say?

    So I am not alone in taking half an age to read classics! See, I always feel so bad because I'm a book lover, and as a book lover I feel like I supposed to read classics and all. But...but... *whispers*I don't like them.*whispers* I have a short attention span. I want new YA books! Classics and I just never mix. (With the exception of things like Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Peter Pan, ya know, things like that of course.) I feel like a bad book lover never reading the classics but I just don't LIKE them. *siiigh* Now, I have read a few Jane Austen books and though they took some time and concentration I DID end up enjoying the stories. But still, give my a YA book any day! And wow, I did not mean to go off on that rant. Whoopsy! Sowwy! It's just so nice to see I'm not alone in this.

    Now this Plain Kate books looks quite intriguing. That is a gorgeous cover. O_O And the cat totally sounds like Enarin, oh my word. XD

    Favorite summer dish? Goodness...I don't even know. Can just good ol' fresh picked strawberries count? Because I looooove me some strawberries!

    I hope August is a wonderful month for you. ^_^
    (And I'm terrified to post this and see how long it is...oh me.)

    1. Goodnight! Yeah, I've got to practice making shorter comments...

    2. Oh, but that's the point, m'dear...mwahaha.

      It does get that hot, contrary to popular beliefs about Canada. XD But ah, my poor Christine is melting! I shall send you a personal air conditioning unit to strap to your back and cart around with you. Or not.

      You're close to meeting the prince, don't worry! And goodness, take your time! I want you to finish BT at least as much (if not MORE) than I'm looking forward to you reading my novella. Honest. And you're using it as a reward? You sweet thing. <3

      That's right, I nearly forgot you have a poodle. LOL, that's adorable.

      No, you're definitely not alone! I pick up maybe one or two classics a year, and they always take a good chunk of time. I just have to be extra attentive when I read them. I don't know, maybe they were written for a smarter generation...? :P I know I *feel* smarter when I can brandish a heavy old book like that. XD (Not that P&P was heavy, actually... only 325 pages.) But yes, YA is a lot easier to read. Plain Kate feels like a breeze now.

      Speaking of, I think you would ADORE this book! If only for the reason of Taggle, you would love it.

      Mmm, I love fresh strawberries too!

      Thank you, and same to you, Christine! ^_^ I love your long comments--they're nearly email-size sometimes, and it's wonderful. <3

  3. I heave a sigh and say goodbye to July. It was good, but not so much in the reading department. I was excited to find some books at my library- and then all but one disappointed me in some way or other. Maybe I should try reading 'Plain Kate'. Yes, you have inspired me to read it. As for summer food, I think I will say: fresh peas and beans from the garden. Although I could go on and on about food...

    1. That is disappointing. :( Which ones were a letdown, if I may ask? (You know, so I can avoid them in the future. XD)
      Yay! Plain Kate is wonderful! I'm within the final forty pages and just... I won't even say anything. It's too good to spoil. If you don't mind a superstitious populace and the existence of witches (all done fairly well, I would say; and I'm generally cautious with such things), I think you'd really enjoy it.
      Oh, garden-fresh beans and peas are the BEST. Especially little baby beans done with Italian dressing in a frying pan. ^_^

    2. Italian dressing, you say? Hm, normally I'm not one for dressings, but that does sound good.

      Anyway, about the books. They were not exactly terrible, but there were certain things that bugged me. The 'Shadow Hero' by Gene Leun Yang was a beautifully done graphic novel. But I found that two other graphic novels of his, 'Boxers' and 'Saints' (printed separately, but made to be read together), were too graphic- as in bloody graphic. Might have expected it really, they were about the Boxer rebellion and martyrdom after all. William R. Ritter's 'Jackaby' was interesting in plot, but I thought the characters were not very original (except for the duck). Jennifer A. Nielson's 'The False Prince' was one I heard many good things about. But my problem with it is personal. There is this character, see, who has a name and nature far too similar to mine. It was like I was reading about myself. When my doppelganger did some things I considered unwise, it un-nerved me. But maybe that's just me being silly.

      But there was another July book I can't believe I forgot! That one was The 'Case for Grace' by Lee Strobel. That one was good, and I recommend it along with his other book, 'The Case for Christ'.

      Well, that was long winded. But that is what happens when I get on the topic of books. I hope these 'reviews' helped.

    3. Italian salad dressing is one of my top favorites (and we usually have somewhere around 6 dressing varieties to choose from in my house).

      Hm, I hadn't heard of any of those except for "The False Prince" up until this point. But I can see they had some irksome qualities... :/ Too bad. But wait, a duck? Animal characters can definitely be amusing, so at least "Jackaby" had that one brighter spot, lol. As for "The False Prince," oh boy, that would be disconcerting! Especially if the character behaved somewhat similarly to you. o.o So far, I've never encountered a major character with my name before. The closest thing was a Tracy in the Christy Miller series, and she the annoyingly sugary/perfect type. XD

      I really need to read those 'case' books by Lee Strobel--I've heard they're amazing. My brother owns one or two, so I really have no excuse. :P

      Haha, no problem! You should see me go on and on about books. In person, online, either way, I seem to have lots to say. XD Thanks for the reviews, Blue!

  4. Wow exciting month! That's so so cute about the cat in the book. I love cats. ^ ^ My favorite summer food is peaches. I love fresh Georgia-grown peaches. And fresh cherries too. I love the fresh fruit and veggies. ^ ^


    1. It flew by, that's for sure! Yes, Taggle was completely adorable. ^_^ Mm, peaches. I don't have nearly enough of those as I'd like. Same with cherries. :)

  5. I always love your subplots and storylines posts. And that strawberry pie! Did your mom make that? It looks simply HEAVENLY!
    Ooh, Plain Kate. I stumbled across that one a few years back, but didn't pick it up due to TBR pile insanity. And school. I seem to do this to a lot of good books... but anyways, your description of the cat has converted me, and I am now itching to get my hands on a copy and devour it. Sarcastic "catty" characters are one of my favourites to read. :D

    1. Really? Aw, thanks. ^^ They're a lot of fun to write, even if they do veer off to the edge of my intended purpose of this blog...
      Yep, that was my darling mom's creation. Heavenly indeed!
      Ah, yes, the never-ending TBR insanity. *shakes head* I really hope you read it! The cat's sense of humor is of the sort I think you'd enjoy. ;D

  6. That strawberry pie looks divine. Sounds like you are having fun though. I honestly am amazed with the speed that your retelling is getting written. Your so fast.

    1. It wassss. Not rubbing it in at all, am I? XD Thank you! If I hadn't set a goal (which...*cough*...I didn't quite reach), I don't think I'd be half as far along. Thanks again for being a super beta reader!