I would like to remind you that I am a wizard. And a wizard is never late.
* Great excuse, right? But actually I have been going nonstop since Sunday morning, and these S&S posts are hard to put together until . . . you know, the month is pretty much over.
Life Etc.A few notable things happened this month. I learned how to make origami flowers and felt so proud of myself. A friend/co-worker is getting married in June, so I joined her and a passel of girls in making some of the dozens (hundreds?) of flowers she needs. Behold my handiwork.
And I've been greatly enjoying my new vehicle. It's officially in my possession now, and the first time I left work and laid eyes on it waiting in the parking lot for me, I had a thrill of that's my car!
Warm sun and frequent showers have turned everything green, green, green around here. And that means yard work, planting the garden, starting the flower beds, etc. But digging my fingers into freshly tilled dirt, clomping around in rubber boots, hauling watering cans, watching little bugs scramble away as I work--that's a totally different kind of labor than my job. It's more refreshing.
We hauled out our lawn croquet and set it up at a park. Let's just say that I finished fourth out of the six of us. My mom whupped us all severely. I had forgotten she was that good!
One of the biggest happenings this May, though, is the day I WENT TO A PIANO GUYS CONCERT! I'd heard way back around Christmas that their tour was bringing them close to home, and was naturally very interested in getting tickets. So was Sarah. But I procrastinated and did nothing about it for months. Two weeks before the concert, I checked online to see if tickets were still available, only to find out that $200 meet and greet passes were all that was left. (A little much for my sensible side to spend on entertainment.) But then it ended up working out that one of Sarah's friends had two extra tickets she could sell us for $50 apiece. This has got to be the only time in my life that procrastination actually produced better results than . . . well, being on top of things.
Anyway, the concert itself was AH-MAY-ZING, OH MY GOODNESS. The music was absolutely gorgeous. The Piano Guys themselves were hilarious and so down to earth and humble. This was apparently their first time touring Canada, which was pretty cool. They played some of my favorites, and threw in a few unofficial pieces. (Including a joking mash-up of the "two happiest songs on earth" according to them: "Don't Worry, Be Happy," and the main theme of Phantom of the Opera. They called it, "Don't Worry, Be Psycho." Too funny!)
I took a bunch of short videos with my phone, and I was hoping to upload one or two to this post, but sadly it's not working. Just imagine, though, a live version of this song . . .
. . . in which four bagpipe players come and join them on the stage near the end. Ah, 'twas glorious!
Another fun event was a girls day out with a dear friend of mine (the one who got married a couple months ago). We hadn't spent much time together since then, so it was awesome to catch up! Smoothies were also a plus. (But aren't they always?)
Once Upon a Time season 3 // My sisters and I finally finished! Great ending, but now we very much need the fourth season. Thankfully, I own it already. But ugh, why did that particular character have to come to Storybrooke right when a certain relationship was going so beautifully? She's going to ruin everything.
Sister Act // cheesy at some parts, funny at others, and even a little heartwarming in between. Watching Whoopi Goldberg play a casino singer who witnesses a murder and then has to hide at a nunnery (of all places) was pretty entertaining. Especially when she started teaching the nuns to sing.
The Two Towers // At last! I've been wanting to see it since I watched The Fellowship of the Ring a couple months ago. Being the extended edition, my bro and I went at it in two separate sittings. So. Good. Gollum's inner conflict was done really well, everything felt darker and more foreboding than the first film, the Ents were fun (but not as good as the book version, in my humble opinion), Legolas and Gimli's developing friendship was awesome, the battle at Helm's Deep was the most epic thing ever . . . I could go on and on, but there are other things to talk about yet. I feel it should be known, however, how much I love Aragorn. And Eowyn. And Merry and Pippin. (But--but--but Aragorn! Could he be any more awesome?)
War Room // I was half expecting it to be one of those tired, clichéd sort of Christian movies, but it was actually good. It started out a bit clichéd, but it turned into a good story with a more focused storyline than, say, God's Not Dead (which I did enjoy; it just had a big cast with lots of plot threads). And if the movie's intent was to inspire the viewers to pray more, then it certainly was convicting. Bits of humor, mostly supplied by the elderly Miss Clara, were also appreciated.
Sleepless in Seattle // My mom and I had a movie night, complete with my favorite kind of popcorn. It was a fun old "classic," which meant I could make fun of the hairstyles and music whilst enjoying the girly romance. Several sexual comments detracted from my enjoyment of the film, but otherwise it was a sweet movie. The dialogue of the main character Annie Reed reminds me of a more extroverted, reckless version of myself. I think it was the way she cobbled topics together and left others scratching their heads, or her random musings on little details about life?
Le BooksHey, guess who up and joined Goodreads? (I haven't figured out why we say "guess who" when it's completely obvious we mean ourselves. But I say it anyway.) Yes, this social media hermit finally ventured into that particular bookish corner of the internet! A hermit, you ask? Doesn't this blog count for something? Yes, of course it does, but as far as the imminently popular Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/what-have-you world goes, I am notably absent. I'm on Google Plus simply because, well, Google gives me Gmail and Blogger and everything on one account. Before you mention it, yes, I am aware of how lame Google Plus is. (Except Mary and I have great little conversations there, so that's a plus.) (Gosh, that was bad.)
But I was supposed to be talking about Goodreads. Yes. So I'm on there now, and still in the process of creating shelves and adding all the books of which I've kept a record. I'd love to connect with you over there!
One of the things I've been reading this month is Christine's Burning Thorns, which is so marvellously wicked in its treatment of my heart. It's a beautiful, heartrending story, and I'm currently having trouble imagining how things are going to get even worse than they already are.
The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate // A sweet, romantic story of a single mom named Tandi shored up with her kids in a quaint little coastal town. Her elderly landlady, Iola Anne Poole, dies peacefully and leaves behind a huge mansion and a lifetime's collection of prayer boxes--the prayers she wrote out since she was a little girl. These prayers are instrumental in Tandi finding healing for her broken heart. I give the story a bit of extra credit for the love interest's originality. Rather than being Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome or Rugged Outdoorsmen, he's a quirky lawn care guy who wears the worst flamingo shirts ever. (But he's sweet, so ya like him.)
Water Walker by Ted Dekker // Book 3 in the Outlaw series. This story was written in almost a parable style, I feel, which is a bit different than Dekker's usual method. It worked for this book, a short novel digging into themes of forgiveness and freedom through grace. Young Eden, who has no memory of her childhood, is kidnapped by people claiming to be her real parents. And let me tell you, those people are creepy. (What really struck me was how minimal the violence was--only one or two scenes, and only one of those made me wince--and yet how chilling the story was anyway. It was more of a psychological creep factor, with Eden's captors being obsessed with a twisted version of purity, cleanliness, and sacrificial lambs.) I caught a few typos, but the story was well worth reading anyway. The messages coincide perfectly with what I've been learning in Dekker's The Creative Way course.
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones // So a number of online buddies of mine have been recommending HMC to me for a couple years already. Very, very enthusiastically recommending. Threatening to throw books at me if I don't read it. Telling me my life will not be complete until I read it. I believed them, of course, because these people are rather discerning bookdragons. For the last two-ish years, I've been looking for HMC at every bookstore I visit, but never found it. You've probably guessed that I recently FOUND IT. (Technically, my mom and sister found it for me, sweet things.)
IT WAS GLORIOUS AND WHIMSICAL AND GAH, I NEED TO READ IT AGAIN. Everything was quirky and fun and seemingly random . . . until they started connecting in surprising ways. I also loved the fairytale setting with its scarecrows and talking fire demons and hat shops and magical doors in magical castles and curses and seven league boots ETC.
Can we talk about the characters? Like how I adore Howl? How spunky Sophie is, even (especially) as an old lady hobbling around and muttering to things? And how hilariously grouchy Calcifer is, and how he hopes Sophie's bacon burns, and how Michael is a pretty cool wizard's apprentice, and how everyone is just strange and wonderful? But Howl . . . he really does take the cake. He's different than I expected, but probably better. (Unbelievably vain. Secretly a big ol' softie. Dramatic as all get out. Howl being sick is so great, I have to say.)
So a humongous thank you to the folks who pushed me into HMC! You know how certain books or movies instantly snuggle into your heart and tell you they're being added to the list of happy places you can go to when you need a pick-me-up? HMC is one of those.
Le Writing6,170 words this month in The Prophet's Key. Not a whole lot, considering I wrote twice as much last month--but decent considering everything else going on.
I managed to do some more research in the realm of literary agents! My list of potentials is slowly growing.
And I spent a significant amount of time doing plain old research for TPK. There's a lot of globetrotting happening in this novel, and I am a person who has not ventured further than a few states south and a few provinces west. Needless to say, I haven't been to most of the places in my outline. Google satellite images, maps, and Wikipedia are my not-so-helpful friends in this endeavor to soak up knowledge. (Can I just book two months off work and fly to places like British Columbia, Scotland, and Australia? Pretty please?)
To make matters worse, the specific locations I'm looking for are supposed to be in the middle of nowhere, set apart from the general civilization. Good places for hiding. Which means they are not good places to Google, because the car that takes their streetview images doesn't trundle up the wilderness of the Rockies and snap pictures of the scenery, gosh darn it. Seriously, get your act together. (Just kidding. Kind of.) So I have resigned myself to getting a feel for a general area, and then making up the specifics. That gives me more freedom to get to the actual writing.
Oh, and I also completed two or three sessions of The Creative Way, including my first session on the module dealing with the craft of writing. Yay!
Now, some of you may have already heard this, but the fourth fairytale contest held by Rooglewood Press has been postponed until next year due to health concerns/busyness on Anne Elisabeth Stengl's part. Very understandable (and I hope she recovers soon from whatever it is), but the news was a bit disappointing. I gave the matter some thought, and have since decided that this may actually be a blessing in disguise. As much as I was looking forward to writing another retelling, it will be good to have the entire year to focus on Journeys of the Chosen, including agent research. Plus I'll be busy this fall (I have a college interview coming up!), so perhaps this is for the best. Besides, by the time June 2017 rolls around, I'll have that much more creative juice stored up for twisting another fairytale!
One last writing-related thing before I wrap this up . . . Because of the postponement, I'm joining Go Teen Writers' 100 for 100, something I've never done but am eager to try. The idea is to write at least 100 words a day for 100 days. The wordcount is easy. It's the every day part that will be a challenge, especially on the busy days. But that's the point of the challenge--to build discipline. I'm excited to give it a go!
Okay, I'm done.Sorry this was so late, folks. I meant to have it out much sooner.
I'd say May was a good month. There were a lot of subplots humming along rather busily, weaving through the weeks. How was your month? Any good books you read or movies you watched? (HAVE YOU READ HMC?) How's the writing life going, if you're of that particular bent? Grab an iced cappuccino or something yummy like that and let's chat!
P.S. I'm loving the discussion we're having on swearing in books, and I promise I'll get to your comments as soon as I have the time to give them the thoughtful responses they deserve!